Judge not or you will be judged: Marco Rubio warns Christians over treatment of gay people

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has told Christians not to judge homosexuals.Reuters

The conservative Republican Marco Rubio has told an evangelical conference in Florida not to judge the gay community and said that Christians have failed to represent Jesus when they have alienated homosexuals.

The Florida senator, who remains opposed to same-sex marriage, said to the America Renewal Project: "Do not judge, or you will be judged". He added: "Abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbours is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfilment of it".

Rubio's speech on Friday came two months to the day since 49 were killed in a mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub in which the gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, targeted gay people. Rubio has said that he changed his mind about stepping down as senator in the wake of the shooting. There is a Republican primary for the seat at the end of this month, which Rubio is expected to win comfortably.

Rubio began his speech with a reaffirmation of his traditional position on marriage. "It is now undeniable that there is a growing number of Americans who seek to expand that definition to include the union of two people of the same sex," he said. "I continue to support the traditional definition of marriage."

The senior Republican said he believed "the union of a man and a woman is a strong relationship with an extraordinary record of success in raising children and strong and successful people."

He defended "the right of Americans to no be forced to violate the teachings of their faith in this matter," adding: "This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy."

However, Rubio then went on: "I must also speak to you about the rhetoric and actions of some of us who believe in traditional marriage too. As we engage in the civic life of our country we are called to two important tasks: Yes, to stand for what our faith teaches, but also, to love people." This meant "you have to listen to them, you have to understand their perspective, their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their pain."

Rubio said that some in the gay community were alienated by Christian voices. "Sadly, many of them had come to believe because of what they heard in the press, because of what they read, because of what somebody told them, that Christianity had no place for them," he said. "And if any of us, myself included, in any way, have ever made anyone feel that Christianity wants nothing to do with them, then I believe deeply that we have failed deeply to represent our Lord Jesus Christ who time and again went out of his way to reach out to the marginalised and to the forgotten of his time."