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An artist's rendering shows the design for Spirit Place. ((Spirit Place))

A community group in Halifax is hoping a vacant church will be replaced with a seniors complex that will focus on welcoming gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered seniors.

St. John's United Church, on the corner of Windsor and Willow streets in Halifax, has been vacant for two years.

Some members of the congregation have applied to the City of Halifax for permission to tear down the building and replace it with a seniors residence complex — to be named Spirit Place.

"GLBT-positive is the way that we would say it," said Louisa Horne, a Spirit Place board member.

"In all aspects of the complex — while we are welcoming and open and celebrating the diversity of our community and wanting to reflect that diversity — that will be a specific designation."

Horne said no one from the gay and transgendered community is turned away from traditional nursing-care homes, but she said life is different for them.

"I liken it a little bit to, perhaps, something that we might hear about in the American military. Sort of a 'Don't ask, don't tell' situation for many folks."

Church included

In addition to the seniors residence, the proposed development includes a church, green space and underground parking.

Lynn Murphy, a board member with the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, said many senior members of the gay and lesbian community often deal with people who are well-meaning but insensitive.

"People will say, 'Oh, were you married? Where is your husband or your wife? Do you have children?'

"They only mean to express their interest and their care for you, perhaps, but it's just the presumption that you are going to be straight. That everybody is going to be straight," she said.

The project is awaiting approval from the municipality.