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

Police will prosecute right-wing Catholic cleric David Muscat over online hate speech in January

David Muscat (centre) seen at a birthday celebration for Nazi apologist Norman Lowell, flanked by Partit Popolari leader Paul Salomone (left)
David Muscat (centre) seen at a birthday celebration for Nazi apologist Norman Lowell, flanked by Partit Popolari leader Paul Salomone (left)

Police will issue charges of online hate speech against a priest who posted a comment on Facebook claiming that “gayness” was worse than supernatural possession.

Reports were filed with the police against Fr David Muscat, a Mosta cleric, by both the minister for social inclusion Julia Farrugia-Portelli, as well as the gay rights consultative council and the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

He will be arraigned in court towards the end of January.

“There are consequences to words. The consequences of fundamamentalism is hate. There is a line of hate speech that cannot be crossed. This priest knows this well. I want the authorities to take action, because this speech incites a negative sentiment on a minority in our country,” equality minister Owen Bonnici said on One TV’s Pjazza earlier this week.

The right-wing priest is known for his diatribes in the press that often take to task ‘liberal Catholics’, and even joined an event organised by the far-right Imperium Europa to celebrate Nazi apologist Norman Lowell’s birthday.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna also issued a formal warning against Muscat, instructing the priest to cease making “inflammatory and hurtful comments” in public. 

Muscat was instructed to delete his Facebook comment claiming that “being gay is worse than being possessed”, in what is referred to in Canon Law as a penal precept. 

The priest was instructed not to use insulting or hurtful language against any group or individual.

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“The Archbishop also reminded Fr David Muscat that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, members of the clergy are required to display respect, compassion and sensitivity to people from all walks of life,” the Archdiocese of Malta said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Archbishop Charles Scicluna apologised on behalf of the Church to all gay people and their families over comments made by Muscat.

Muscat’s comment was posted on a social media thread discussing murder suspect Abner Aquilina, the man suspected of raping and killing 29-year-old Paulina Dembska on 2 January, a murder that shocked the nation, and put issues of misogyny and women’s safety at the forefront of public discourse.