Protestors outside the LDS Temple in New York. (Fox 13)
Protests against a ban on “same-sex romantic behaviour” at a university run by the Mormon church have reached New York, 1,000 miles away from the university itself.
Last week, Brigham Young University (BYU), in Utah, backtracked on removing a ban “homosexual behaviour”, announcing that “same-sex romantic behaviour” will still be outlawed.
BYU’s Honor Code, which students can be expelled for breaking, used to state: “Homosexual behaviour is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code.
“Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
In February, the entire section of the Honor Code on “homosexual behaviour” was removed and LGBT+ students at the Mormon university celebrated by kissing friends and partners of the same gender in various places around campus.
But on Wednesday, March 4, a letter was sent to all students and staff by Elder Paul V Johnson, commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES), addressing the updated Honor Code.
The letter said: “One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on ‘homosexual behaviour’.
“The moral standards of the church did not change… Same-sex romantic behaviour cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.”
The policy flip-flop has been branded “cowardly”, “manipulative”, “gaslighting” and “incredibly cruel”.
One student wrote on Twitter: “Dangerous move. So many kids came out because they thought they were safe.
“Now they’re on your black-list of apostates. False hope from false teachers of love.
“Sad that my university would backpedal with such possibly life threatening consequences.”
Protests originally took place on the BYU campus, but as more people have expressed opposition to the archaic Honor Code, demonstrations have now spread as far as New York, 1,000 miles away.
The protest was organised through social media, and took place outside the LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormon) temple in New York City.
Caleb Jenson, a former BYU student, told Fox 13 at the event: “We just see this as not just a BYU issue, but a human rights issue.
“We are standing in support, and we want to hold BYU and the church accountable for attempting to mask this homophobic policy.”
Tanner Forbes, a gay alumnus, added: “When I was there, I was turned in, and I was in trouble with a lot of different things. But one of them was LGBT+… being gay and dating.”