Sydney concert venue City Recital Hall has been deluged by homophobic comments over its hosting a Mardi Gras event which presents a queer interpretation of a traditional Latin mass.

City Recital Hall’s CEO Elaine Chia today posted an open letter condemning the comments, affirming the organisation’s commitment “to be inclusive, to champion diversity by engaging with all genres, all peoples, and all ideas.”

In comments obtained by Star Observer, users on social media labelled the event – titled Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite – “evil” and “satanic”.

“The devil cannot help but to invert truth, beauty and goodness,” one said.

“Sodomites are a plague,” said another commenter.

One commenter suggested that “the only way to solve this is to go to that hall, take the hammer, smash all their equipment, throw all their books out and burn it,” while another said, “There is a special place in hell for this assault on our faith.”

City Recital Hall’s Facebook post, which sparked the influx of comments, called Requiem Mass “a radical re-imagination of the formal Latin Mass that adds Queer voices to the canon.”

“Experience a healing musical journey as we reflect and honour those that have been loved and lost to us, showing that although there have been souls that have been persecuted, they are not destroyed. Truth, love and inclusiveness is at the heart of us all.”

On its website, City Recital Hall describes the choral work, written by Holcombe Waller, as a way to “reflect and honour those that have been loved and lost to us, and those who suffered persecution for their gender expression or sexual orientation, particularly in a religious context.”

In her open letter, Chia said that she was not surprised by the presence of some backlash but was alarmed by the “vicious, discriminatory and hurtful words, including threats.”

“I expected there would be some who were not in favour of this concert, and of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but freedom of speech should never be discriminatory or abusive.

“The spiteful comments have made it all the more clear that we need to present works like Requiem Mass on our stage,” Chia wrote.

“We need to move past hatred, embrace dialogue and do our part to build a society where all people can express themselves without discrimination.

“This work is not a satire, nor is it disrespectful of anyone’s faith, including mine. It has been performed in venues worldwide, including churches and cathedrals. Music has the power to heal. That’s why this concert will proceed.”

For more information on Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Right, head to City Recital Hall’s website.

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