A Christian group has hit out at the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney over claims gay men have worse health than smokers.

Earlier this month ACL Managing director Jim Wallace caused uproar for suggesting the life expectancy of gay men was lower than smokers.

Wallace’s comments were supported the following week on ABC’s Q&A program by Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen which provoked further backlash against the ACL and Jensen himself.

Christian group Changing Attitudes Australia (CAA) rejected the comments and said the ACL is not representative of all Christians, nor Jensen of all Anglicans.

“It is an attempt by the conservative lobby to de-humanise homosexuals, to try and paint being gay as a lifestyle choice,” CAA spokesman Reverend Andrew Eaton said.

“Being gay is not a choice. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex is naturally occurring in the human condition and should be celebrated as God-given and every bit as equal and normal as being heterosexual.”

Eaton said health statistics for gay men show a wide range of reasons why life expectancy may be shorter.

“The most stunning of which is suicide commonly associated with shame and depression from being demonised for being gay,” he said.

“Despite Archbishop Jensen on Q&A himself recognising that suicide in the LGBTI community could be associated with shame, stemming from statements made by conservative parts of the church including himself, he did not apologise that he may have contributed to the intolerable load on some gay and lesbian people.

“Changing Attitudes Australia wants to assure LGBTI people there are many in the Anglican Church who welcome all people into its life, and that the richness of God’s love is fully experienced when it does.”

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