The Legion of Mary says it "knows nothing about" a poster distributed at NUI Galway which has led to the suspension of the group's branch at the university.
The university is to conduct a “full investigation” into the distribution of the A4 sized posters which called on people with same-sex attractions to “develop an interior life of chastity” and “move beyond the confines of the homosexual label to a more complete identity in Christ”.
The “Courage Community group” posters included a quote: “I’m a child of God, don’t call me gay” and credited a “Purity Matters Initiative in conjunction with the the NUIG Legion of Mary Society”.
The posters, one of which was pinned outside the college library, have been removed following over 70 formal complaints, and NUIG suspended the Legion of Mary society this week “with immediate effect”.
The university said in a statement that the Legion of Mary had “apologised for any distress caused and said that it was not their intention to offend or upset any person or group of people”.
“NUIG has a pluralist ethos and will not condone the production and dissemination of any material by students which discriminates against other students, ”the college said in its statement. “ Discrimination or implied or direct harassment, on the basis of sexual orientation and/or religion, is contrary to Irish and European law,”it said.
It said that the university's vice-president for the student experience Dr Pat Morgan had initiated "a process of inquiry to review the actions of the society in question in the context of the university code of conduct, the university policy on harassment and Irish and European equality law".
It said that the university societies co-ordination group met on Tuesday of this week and “suspended the society named the NUIG Legion of Mary with immediate effect”.
The Legion of Mary headquarters in Dublin said it “knew nothing” about the poster or the Courage Community group. It said it had “no contact” with the college’s branch on the issue.
The college branch was initiated in September and had been given temporary status, having applied for recognition as a society. This temporary status is “now in abeyance until the investigation is completed”, the college said.
The society had not fulfilled the application requirements which involved stating its aims and objectives, according to the university societies co-ordination group.
It had not received funding, but had been given access to college administrative services, including use of email and the college website. This access has now been removed.
The branch was not available for comment and efforts to contact the “Courage Community” proved unsuccessful.
The GiGsoc which represents the university’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community said it was happy with the college’s actions.
Fr Sean McHugh, communications officer with the Galway diocese, said that the matter was one for the Legion of Mary and the university.“It appears that the poster is about the call to live a chaste live, which is part of Christian teaching,” he said, but the poster’s statement,”I’m a child of God. Don’t call me gay!” was offensive, he said.