The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Updated: Watch - X Factor audition raises ire after contestant describes gay marriage a 'sin'

Monday, 22 October 2018, 16:20 Last update: about 12 months ago

An audition by one of X Factor Malta’s hopefuls has raised ire across social media after he described anything that isn’t a marriage between a man and a woman as a “sin”.

Matthew Grech, who is a singer and vocal coach, spoke about how he had been gay and how he used to lead a “homosexual lifestyle”, but then “found God”. 

"For a long time, I stopped following my passions to follow Jesus. There can be love between two men and two women, yes - but only friendship love. Everything else is a sin”, Grech said in the clip shown before his audition was aired by Malta’s national broadcaster TVM. 

Grech is a member of the controversial, anti-gay movement River of Love. River of Love had been in the news for allegedly carrying out what they called ‘gay conversion therapies’.  The promotion of such supposed therapies was made illegal in 2016.

Grech passed through to the next round with three yeses, with Ray Mercieca, Ira Losco and Howard Keith Debono giving him the thumbs up.  Alexandra Alden gave him the thumbs down.  In judging the contestant, none of the judges made any reference to what Grech had said in the filmed clip.

The video of the audition, complete with the clip in question, was uploaded by the programme on Facebook and Youtube, but has since been deleted following the backlash received.

On Monday X Factor also published a statement addressing the incident saying that no part of Grech’s original audition was intended “to cause offence” and that “nor were the views expressed those of the producers of the programme”.

The programme emphasised that its focus was “talent” and “music” and that they would never want anything to “get in the way of that”.

Grech’s words provoked outrage on social media, with many lambasting Grech and also TVM for including the clip within the final cut for the X Factor episode.  Amidst the outrage, various public figures also took to social media to show their distaste.

The Government whip Byron Camilleri said that he personally knew youths who had suffered because their families had not accepted them because they were gay, and said that he could never accept that somebody appears on the national broadcaster and tries to “sell” the idea that a person can “convert by finding God”.

Andrew Azzopardi, the dean of the faculty social wellbeing, also lambasted X Factor Malta and demanded an apology for airing the contestant’s clip. 

PN councillor Alex Mangion, who is transgender, said that it was “disgusting” that the national broadcaster allows “certain disclaimers which are anti LGBTIQ to be given any air time at all”.  He said that he agrees with freedom of speech but that such things were “not on”, and questioned what such a clip would have done to someone who is gay and may be afraid of coming out.

The Government meanwhile released a statement on Monday, condeming any "homophobic" comment and said that the broadcast of such a clip did great damage and put at risk many youths who are vulnerable for gay conversion practices.

The statement read that that all LGBTIQ persons don't need any form of healing or forgiveness because of that which makes up an integral part of their personality.  "Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle", the statement said.  The government said that any youths going through the process of coming out and are facing difficulties should seek support, as should parents who are finding it difficult to accept their children coming out.

River of Love founder: "Hypocrisy made in Malta"

The founder of the River of Love movement, pastor Gordon-John Manche, also took to Facebook but expressed decidedly different sentiments, saying that this case was "hyprocisy made in Malta".

Manche said that in Malta, freedom of speech meant that it was "ok" to swear, to offend thy neighbour, and to humiliate the name of God and of other public persons; "but if somebody says that Jesus Christ changed his life", it is not acceptable.

 

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