Monday, 3 November 2014

A footballing hero turns sour

Today is a day of mixed feelings for me.

First there is the great news that the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and Marriage Equality Ireland have all joined together to launch the ‘Yes Equality’ campaign ahead of next year's referendum in the Republic of Ireland.

But also one of the greats of the time that my team Livingston spent in the Scottish Premier League has actually taken than support of at least this one football fan and thrown it in his face.

Marvin ten years ago when Livingston won the CIS Cup
Marvin Andrews, who came from Raith Rovers to Livingston before moving on to Rangers, a return to Raith Rovers and stints at Hamilton Academical, Queen of the South, Wrexham, Albion Rovers, Forfar Athletic, before currently playing for Elgin City has always been known as God's footballer. He famously in his first season at Rangers instead of taking the normal course of treatment for a cruciate knee ligament injury which should have seen him out of action for nine months turned to prayer and was back on the field in 2 weeks!

But it is his comment in defending his pastor Joe Nwokoye at Zion Praise Centre International in Kirkcaldy who has blamed natural disasters on same-sex marriage. In the defense of his Pastor, Marvin has said:

"For a man to see a man or a woman to see a woman in that way is a spiritual sickness and it is the Bible – not Marvin Andrews – that says that is an abomination.

"I am not going to contradict my beliefs. I don’t care if 100,000 people are against me – I’ll stand on the word of God."

Now if the man that we sang from the stands as "Marv, Marv, Super Marv, Super Marvin Andrews" would care to explain to me what all those natural disasters before same-sex marriage were introduced were all about. And maybe go a little further back what about the ones that occurred before homosexuality was actually legalised. Or maybe he'd like to explain why more natural disasters happen in the states in the USA that are most likely to be fighting equal marriage, or indeed in Africa which also seems to be in opposition?

Yes natural disasters are happening all around us all the time and have been since time immemorial. Now if Marvin really believes what it says in the bible he will now that the reason these things started is because Eve was tempted to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and persuaded Adam to follow suit. These were not as a result of same-sex marriage or activity in any form, so stop passing the buck on natural disasters.

Sadly it is not the first time he has said something like this. In 2006 when former Liberal Democrat MSP Margaret Smith announced her Civil Partnership plans and just before he left Rangers he said:

"There is a demon in their [homosexual's] spirits, their spirits are ill. But God can help them through his church and anyone who doubts this can check the Bible"
Such negative and prejudicial opinions from churches and their leaders is actually still doing the opposite and too often it is too late for many young people to have any such help and many brought up with such religious vitriol are tempted to commit suicide than be open about their sexuality in faith settings.

But we are also trying to rid football of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, just as we are still striving to rid it from under representation of racial minorities at the top level of management and boardrooms around the nation. Comments like this from a respected veteran of the game in Scotland do not go down well to the LGBT fans and players in the leagues.

While he is allowed to say whatever he wants, surely his believes are also that God loves everyone. There is no love in his words only condemnation. It is like the chants that opposing fans have given him through the years with the exception of him turning up at Almondvale on his first appearance in a Rangers shirt when he was applauded loudly. That is the love that is unconditional that he should be showing to everyone.

To stamp out homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in football Stonewall have for the last two years run their rainbow laces campaign. Next year when they run it, if Marvin is still playing I am tempted to send him a pair with a letter explaining how I'm upset as a gay fan who has cheered him from the stands that he is behaving in the way that he does and is lacking in Christian love when he talks about LGBT issues.

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