Bernárd Lynch is an “out” gay Irish
born Roman Catholic priest, author, and activist who has worked for the rights
of LGBTQIA+ people and people with HIV/AIDS for almost fifty years. He has an
interdisciplinary Doctorate in counselling psychology and theology from New
York Theological Seminary and Fordham University.
In 1982, he founded the first AIDS
ministry in New York City and was drafted onto the Mayor of New York’s Task
Force on AIDS. This was documented by Channel 4 U.K. in two documentaries,
AIDS: A Priest’s Testament in 1987 and Soul Survivor in 1990. He publicly
backed Mayor Ed Koch in supporting Executive Order 50 in 1984, which compelled
City contractors not to discriminate based on sexual orientation. AIDS: A priests testament
Bernárd publicly testified in favour of
New York City’s lesbian and gay rights bill that bans discrimination based on
sexual orientation in jobs and public accommodations, seeing it through to
passage by New York City Council in 1986.
As documented in the documentary film
by Channel 4 A Priest on Trial in 1990, his support for LGBT+ rights brought
down on him a false prosecution perpetrated by church and government officials.
He won total exoneration and was declared ‘fiercely innocent' by Justice Burton
Roberts in the Bronx Supreme Court on April 21st,1989.
He was honoured with the Magnus
Hirschfeld Award in 1988 for outstanding service to the cause of Irish LGBT+
civil rights. He was given the AIDS Interfaith Network U.S.A. award in 1990 and
the Moral Leadership Award that same year.
In 2006, he became the first Catholic
priest in the world to have a civil partnership marrying his partner Billy
Desmond in Ireland in 2017. This was the first gay marriage in County Clare,
the County of his birth.
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