Australian Mansor Almaribe faces 500 lashes for blasphemy

THE family of a Victorian man sentenced to 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia has made an emotional plea to bring him home, fearing he will die in jail.

The Shepparton family of Mansor Almaribe, 45, who was also sentenced to a year in jail for blasphemy, will head to Canberra to plead for help.

Isaam Almaribe, 21, said his father suffered from diabetes and had broken bones in his back and knees from a car accident in Australia.

"Dad told us 'Take me out of here as soon as possible because if I stay here I will die' - that's how bad his situation is," Isaam said.

Gay vows not so queer

Religion’s baulking at homosexual marriage is utterly sanctimonious.

THE reaction by conservative religious leaders and political com-mentators to the decision by the ALP on gay marriage has been that this tilt will imperil the party at the next federal election. It may well do. But the reasons supplied are shocking arguments against a call for legitimising gay marriage.

Religious pilgrimage turns into nightmare

THIS time there will be no love letters.

During the seven hard years that Wafaa Almaribe struggled to survive with her children in Iran and Iraq, her husband kept them alive by sending money from Australia - and poems.

But they received word yes-terday that Mansor Almaribe, a father of five, who was last month charged with blasphemy while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to a year in prison and 500 lashes.

Pastor supporter of gay marriage out in the cold

MATT Glover, the Lilydale Baptist pastor who supports gay marriage, has been sacked at a secret church meeting to which he was not invited.

The Lilydale church office yesterday confirmed that Mr Glover was no longer senior pastor, but said the congregation had been instructed to remain silent.

The Age reported last week that the church was in turmoil over Mr Glover's support for same-sex marriage on a gay website two months ago.

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Church revolt at same-sex policy

LABOR'S official support for gay marriage will cost it the next election, predicts the Australian Christian Lobby, which vowed yesterday to work hard to make sure it happens.

The lobby group will turn to the Coalition to try to ensure it stays committed to its policy on marriage, and gear up for a lobbying campaign next year when a vote is taken, according to managing director Jim Wallace.

Mr Wallace said the group would highlight the differences between Labor and the Coalition on same-sex marriage.

Catholic church failed to tell police of sex abuse

A CATHOLIC brother has escaped justice for more than three decades over his alleged serial abuse of Victorian children and teenagers in the 1970s and '80s, due partly to the failure of the church to notify police of complaints about his conduct.

More alleged victims of Brother Bernard Hartman have contacted The Age after Saturday's report about the fight of alleged victim, Mariead Ashcroft, to have Brother Hartman charged by police for his alleged sexual abuse of her in the '70s.

Rally presses case for inquiry on priests' abuse

PRESSURE is mounting on the Baillieu government to launch an inquiry into child sex abuse by Victorian Catholic priests after a demonstration on the steps of Parliament yesterday.

The crowd of about 100 heard that at least 35 men abused as children by Brother Robert Best and Father Gerald Ridsdale had committed suicide, and there were calls for urgent action to prevent more deaths.

The pressure for an inquiry included comments by a former manager from the church's social welfare arm last week and a victims' group.

I do: Labor to gay marriage

A BILL to legalise gay marriage will be rushed into Parliament early next year after Labor voted overwhelmingly yesterday to adopt marriage equality as its official policy - but granted a conscience vote to its MPs to avoid a damaging split.

The legislation is doomed to fail unless the Coalition grants its MPs a free vote too, with as many as 10 Labor senators and between 10 and 20 Labor members of the lower house likely to vote against it.

Labor backs gay marriage

The Labor Party has voted resoundingly to change its policy to one of supporting gay marriage.

But federal MPs will not be forced to support gay marriage when the issue comes before Parliament next year because the party also voted to endorse a conscience vote for its politicians.

The votes were held this morning after passionate debate for and against the changes at the ALP national conference in Sydney.

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A plea for an inquiry and a tale of the one who got away

A MANAGER from the Catholic Church’s social welfare arm has accused the church of mishandling its response to sexual abuse by clergy and is urging the state government to launch an inquiry.

Alan Baker, who works for CatholicCare, has revealed how he unsuccessfully fought church officials for three years to improve the
support given to victims of clergy abuse.

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