Mosta priest David Muscat charged over homophobic comments on Facebook

Right-wing cleric who celebrated birthday anniversary of Holocaust denier Norman Lowell, reported for claiming homosexuality was “worse than demonic possession”

Right-wing cleric David Muscat has been charged with hate speech and misuse of electronic communications technology, over a Facebook comment he had made earlier this year, in which he said that homosexuality, which he referred to as “gayaġni”, was worse than demonic possession.

Muscat pleaded not guilty to the charges before Magistrate Ian Farrugia this morning. He was arraigned by summons, not under arrest, and so bail was not required.

His lawyers Mariah Mula and Christopher Attard said they would not be denying that the reply to the post had actually been written by Muscat, but said they would be contesting the assertion that it constituted hate speech.

Prosecuting inspector Kylie Borg exhibited the criminal complaint filed by representatives of Malta’s gay rights community. It was not strictly necessary as the police were legally permitted to prosecute hate crimes without the complaint of the injured party, said the court, but accepted it nonetheless.

The defence informed the magistrate that it had summoned an auxiliary exorcist to explain the issue of demonic possession to the court today. Magistrate Farrugia said that it would be interesting to hear the witness, but questioned the relevance of his testimony to the case, as the issue at stake was a legal, not a theological one.

The case was adjourned until 4 March for notes of submissions to be exhibited. 

Before sending him on his way, the magistrate reminded the cleric that he was a well known figure and his words carried weight. “What happened, happened, I must decide on it unfortunately, but going forward I don’t want any more cases,” warned the magistrate.

READ MORE: Priest who said ‘being gay is worse than possession’ to be charged with online hate speech