At 10:45 this morning, Dylan Lindo, President of St. Andrews’s LGBT society, gathered a group of protesters outside St Salvator’s Chapel to protest Cardinal Keith O’Brien‘s attacks on gay marriage. The Cardinal recently angered Equal Rights groups for comparing the legislation of gay marriage to legalising slavery. The atmosphere inside the quad was upbeat – there were no stand-offs with anti-protest groups and there was no hostile chat of heckling or throwing mouldy tomatoes during prayers.
As they filed into the quad, the rainbow effect of their clothes became more apparent: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple were grouped together. A member of the church choir came out to kiss Dylan on the cheeks – a kind welcome. After some motivational words from Dylan, the group quietly entered the chapel and took the back seats. I managed to catch a few words from Dylan before he followed them in.
‘We have a right to protest. This statement is not about disrupting the service or arguing with churchgoers. As a Catholic that is not something I would ever want to do.
‘We are here to show the Cardinal that he can say what he wants, but we are still here.’
The service followed the theme of Discipleship. The Chaplain began by welcoming every visitor to the church, ‘if you are a regular at our Sunday Service or if it is your first time here, you are all welcome.’ One couldn’t help but think this was partly directed at the protesters, who had been to speak to him about their plan prior to today.
Only when the Cardinal stood to speak did three orange-clad protesters tentatively stand up. Slowly, but surely (and with much scraping of chairs,) did every member stand. Except one, perhaps provocative, participant laughing suddenly at the word, ‘tolerance’ in the Archbishop’s speech, there was absolute quiet maintained throughout their physical display of solidarity.
Student President, Patrick O’Hare, also made an appearance and sat at the back of the church with LGBT members. After the service he shook the hands of the Cardinal, Chaplain and the leading members of the protest before leaving.
The protestors then formed a line opposite the church and the Chaplain came out to shake some hands before leading the Cardinal into another building. Either the latter needs to get his eyes tested or he failed to notice the group on the lawn.
The Archdiocese and the University have yet to comment.