Pastor Latzel: I do not oppose homosexuals


Central Europe


Pastor Olaf Latzel. Photo RD, Sjaak Verboom

"I definitely don't oppose people, including homosexuals. There are homosexual members in my congregation, in my family, and among my acquaintances. I speak with them normally. What I oppose in my role as minister is a certain type of behaviour; I call that sin."

These are the words of pastor Olaf Latzel on Monday during a court hearing in Bremen. There the appeal of the German pastor took place between 9.00 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. (and next Friday and next week Monday). Latzel disagrees with the verdict of the court in Bremen, which fined him 8,100 euros for incitement on November 25, 2020.

Pastor Latzel was found guilty one and a half years ago because he said during a seminar on marriage in his congregation, the Martini congregation in Bremen, that the LGBT ideology is "gender junk" and that militant gay activists are "devilish." In addition, he called the activists that vandalised his church, scratched his car and threatened members of his congregation "criminals."

Latzel and his lawyer argued on Monday that the article on which he is condemned was introduced in the German criminal code. It aimed to criminalise the acts of the Nazis after the Second World War: incite the German people to hatred against Jews and homosexuals. Latzel: "But I always resisted excluding any people, of Jews, of homosexuals or which other group they may be. That is the red thread in my life. In my last congregation in Siegen, we organised an Evangelising campaign. A homosexual member joined as well. Some other members wanted to exclude him. But I said: That is not going to happen. If he is not allowed to do this work, I am no longer your pastor."

No verdict

The hearing on Monday did not end with a verdict. Much of the time was spent reading the verdict from 2020. In addition, the judge read aloud the motivation for the appeal, which was written by Latzel's lawyer, Dr Sascha Böttner. This text included long Bible quotes from the Pentateuch, the Gospels, and Paul's letters.

Latzel. Photo EKD Hannover

Furthermore, two witnesses were invited to testify: both were members of the Martini congregation and joined the marriage seminar at the time. One of the prosecutor's questions to them was whether they understood Latzel's statement of that time about militant homo activists. Both of them confirmed they did. During the hearing, they said that this statement was not about all homosexuals but only referred to aggressive activists. Both of the members themselves experienced the negative consequences of the threatening actions of these activists.

The hearing will continue on Friday morning. A theological expert will speak during the next session, and more time will be spent on further exchanges of thought.



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