The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is facing strong criticism for participating in a carol service at a church that admits to carrying out “exorcisms” of gay people.
Johnson attended the service yesterday evening (9 December) at the Jesus House church in Barnet. It is led by Pastor Agu Irukwu and is part of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
The Church carries out “exorcisms” of people who are sexually attracted to members of their own sex, but insists that such “exorcisms” are done only with the calm consent of the person concerned. This has failed to satisfy critics, who are comparing the incident to a decision by the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, to host the anti-gay Muslim preacher Yusaf al-Quaradawi.
“Boris Johnson has made a big mistake by agreeing to attend a carol service hosted by a homophobic clergyman,” said the human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, “Pastor Agu Irukwu is a long-time opponent of gay equality”.
The Mayor’s press office said that he was attending the service “to kick off a host of festive celebrations across the capital” and that he will later attend services in Southwark Cathedral and Trafalgar Square.
But Tatchell said, “Boris should investigate the people who invite him before accepting their invitations. He should not attend this church, for the same reason that he should not attend a church where the pastor preaches against black or Jewish people or against equal rights for women or Muslims”.
Irukwu campaigned against the Sexual Orientation Regulations in 2006, which gave gay, lesbian and bisexual people protection from discrimination in the provision of goods and services. He signed a statement rejecting the notion “that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality”.