Wagga’s LGBTQI residents, their families and friends were left outraged after a monthly support meeting was “invaded”.
Rainbow Riverina communications officer Kat van der Wijngaart said two strangers had attended Monday night’s meeting with the sole purpose of distributing “religious propaganda” to members.
A letter, penned by Paul Bosman, titled: “Good news for the gays, their families and supporters”, encouraged readers to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Mrs van der Wijngaart said many members were children, who often came along with their parents.
The incident comes as residents across the country cast their vote to change same-sex marriage legislation.
Mrs van der Wijngaart said it was hypocritical for members of the Christian faith to complain about homosexuality being pushed through education systems, when they could turn around and do the exact same thing.
She said the letter contained nothing offensive, but the purpose of pushing a belief system onto a vulnerable community was a violation of the group’s “safe space”.
“We promote the meetings as a safe space where (LGBTQI youth and adults) wont be judged,” Mrs van der Wijngaart said.
“It was a gross invasion and highly inappropriate.”
She said it was hard to understand why the pair would not have introduced themselves or sought to discuss their presence and intention with someone beforehand.
“We don’t want to say that LGBTQI people aren’t believers in God or that he hates all LGBTQI people,” Mrs van der Wijngaart said.
“(But) if they knew about our meeting then they would have also had access to our email, Facebook page and phone numbers.”
Wagga Gideon member Paul Bosman, who also attended Monday’s meeting to “share the good news”, said the last thing he intended to do was cause offence.
He said there was no accusation, criticism, condemnation or malice in his actions or words.
He said he only wanted to share God’s love; a love he said had changed his life.
“I’m passing on knowledge of the facts,” Mr Bosman said.
“I’m not limiting myself to any group or people.”
Mr Bosman said he felt for the LGBTQI community, who were under a lot of pressure because of the postal vote.
Having been through tough times himself, he wanted to share the peace he had found through his faith.
“We don’t want to be pushy in any way,” he said.
“We have the greatest news in the world that our life here has a purpose.”
Rainbow Riverina president and meeting chair Max Lyons said what was in the letter was not offensive and Mr Bosman may have had the right intentions, but the way he went about it made some members feel attacked.
“It’s a safe space for the LGBTQI community and allies,” Mr Lyons said.
“It was not a personal attack though. They were just spreading the gospel.”
My Lyons said he felt it was a simple miscommunication and a case of poor timing.
“I think with the same-sex marriage postal vote, some people are feeling particularity vulnerable at the moment,” he said.
“This letter wasn’t about marriage equality but it’s been brought into the spotlight.”
Mr Lyons said if members of the LGBTQI community were feeling stressed about anything or needed to talk, they could contact Qlife on 1800 184 527.