The pastor of the LGBTI-inclusive Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Brisbane has labelled a spate of homophobic and racist graffiti on the property “hate crimes” over the past six months.

Reverend Alex Pittaway, who leads the New Farm church, said that the vandalism won’t stop the congregation from worshipping and promoting inclusivity, Quest News reported.

MCC has been repeatedly targeted by vandals, with a swastika spray-painted over a rainbow flag on one of its signs and other homophobic messages.

“We have been subject to what I would call hate crimes in the past six months,” Pittaway said.

Pittaway said that on the day of the Brisbane Pride parade last year, the church was vandalised, and that the vandals returned two weeks ago to graffiti the MCC sign with a swastika.

Pittaway said they returned last week to spray-paint “‘clobber’ passages”, meaning the anti-gay verses from the Bible.

“We are a church that is not unfamiliar with persecution as we are made up of mostly members of the LGBT community,” he said.

The MCC Brisbane congregation is made up of around 100 people, with 50 or so typically present at the church’s Sunday services.

“I want to send the message to our congregation and the LGBTQ community that love is bigger than hate,” Pittaway said.

The church, which is on Merthyr Rd, is looking into ways to prevent further vandalism with the help of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Police, including CCTV.

Police appealed to the community for help over the two most recent incidents, the first of which took place between 5pm on February 13 and 12pm on February 14 and the second between 4pm on February 23 and 10:30am on February 24.

“Anyone who may have information is urged to contact police or CrimeStoppers,” police said.

Pittaway last year spoke out against the government’s reluctance to remove discrimination exemptions which made LGBTI students and staff vulnerable at faith-based schools.

“We need laws protecting vulnerable LGBTI kids in schools. It is unfortunate that these schools leave behind the inclusive love of Jesus by viciously defending their right to expel on the grounds of sexuality,” he said.

During the postal survey in 2017, residents of Brisbane suburb Highgate Hill reported that their homes were vandalised with swastikas for displaying support for marriage equality.

Extreme anti-LGBTI posters, sourced back to the neo-Nazi group The Antipodean Resistance, were found in Townsville last year.

Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dr Dvir Abramovich called the MCC vandalism an assault on our “values of inclusivity”.

“As Australians, we should all be outraged and distressed by this,” Abramovich said.

“Those who target houses of worship with homophobic and bigoted slurs have hate in their heart.

This cowardly and deplorable act is a sad reminder that the virus of racism and white-supremacy still remains a serious problem in our country.

“The Nazi swastika is a universal symbol of pure evil, and is aimed at instilling fear and intimidation within members of the LGBTIQ community and other communities.

“All leaders must send the message that that there is no place in our nation for such unbridled prejudice, and that there will be a high price to be paid for such reprehensible crimes. We hope that QLD police apprehends the perpetrators and that they will be appropriately prosecuted.”

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