Small Victory in Uganda: President Blocks Anti-Gay Law

For some years now, Uganda has been held up (and with good reason), as a prime example of African homophobia, based on a proposed law that would have permitted the death penalty for gay sex. Slowly though, that extreme threat has shrunk. First, the original bill was withdrawn, and replaced with another which removed the death penalty, but applied instead lengthy terms of imprisonment. That law was passed by parliament – but in stunning news, the President has refused to sign it.

Catholics should note that in this instance, for once, the Catholic Church has intervened against discrimination, as New Ways recently reported in a blog post at Bondings 2.0.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni blocks anti-gay law

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has refused to approve a controversial bill to toughen punishments for homosexuals.

He has written to the parliamentary speaker criticising her for passing it in December without a quorum.

It’s not all good news: in explaining his action, the president spouted the nonsense, widely discredited by both the medical establishment and the Catholic Church, that homosexuals are “sick” – but this is Uganda, and this is still a long way from the death penalty, which was previously demanded.

Homosexuals were “abnormal” or were so for “mercenary reasons” and could be “rescued”, a local paper quotes his letter as saying.

The bill provides for life imprisonment for homosexual acts and also makes it a crime not to report gay people.

The promotion of homosexuality – even talking about it without condemning the lifestyle – would also be punishable by a prison term.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says the president is aware that if he signs the bill there will be an international outcry, which could see some countries suspend aid to the country.

Continue reading the main story at BBC News

 

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Discrimination and the Catholic Church: Nigeria

It’s not often that I agree with a Catholic Herald opinion piece on anything to do with LGBT issues and the Church, but here is one by Ed West, Deputy Editor, where I do. Catholic teaching is absolutely clear that discrimination, malice and violence against gay people is totally unacceptable, and should be strongly resisted. The obvious conclusion, as the writer points out, is that Catholics should be loudly protesting the anti – gay legislation in Nigeria. (What he doesn’t say, which i would add, is that we should also be loudly protesting against any discrimination, malice or verbal violence within or by the church and its institutions – as for, example, at Eastside Catholic High School, and other institutions that have unjustly fired excellent teachers, musicians and other staff).

Shouldn’t Catholics be protesting loudly against anti-gay persecution?

Nigeria’s new laws contravene Catholic teaching – and we should say so

Nigeria has become the latest country to impose extremely harsh measures on people in same-sex relationships. This is part of a trend towards a world morality gap and follows developments in Russia, Uganda and India.

The Catholic Church’s position on such laws are clear: they are are unjust. And it sometimes seems that the Catholic Church is standing atop two boats heading in opposite directions, with radical, illiberal anti-discrimination laws in the West and ultra-conservative morality laws in the developing world. Barbarism in one direction; decadence in the other.

Yet even educated people in Britain are hardly aware of the Church’s opposition to such laws (few noticed when the Church spoke out in India last month). They lump in the Catholic view on sexuality with that of the rabidly intolerant governments of Nigeria and Uganda. And Catholics don’t seem to be making much effort to dissuade them.

As one Catholic, Niall Gooch, wrote on Twitter: “Christians should be more vocal about laws & governments that encourage anti-gay hostility.” He has a point. Instead, it’s left overwhelmingly to secular, often anti-religious, campaigners.

Gooch points to Articles 2357 and 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which say that gay people “must be accepted w/ respect, compassion, & sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Catholics should see this as a matter of social justice. As Gooch has argued, as much as Catholics oppose discrimination laws that affect adoption agencies and B&Bs, and various other radical secularist measures, what’s happening in Nigeria is surely far, far worse than schools using the charity Stonewall’s material.

-read the full post at CatholicHerald.co.uk

(but be warned that reading the comments could seriously harm your blood pressure).


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The Miracle that Created a Southern Baptist Straight Ally

If the coming out process can be difficult, and coming out in church even more so, those difficulties can be even more so deeply religious parents of lesbian or gay people.  Lance Bass was raised in Mississippi by a committed Southern Baptist family – not the easiest environment for any religious family to discover that their son is gay – and very publicly so, on the cover of tabloid magazines. At Huffington Post, Lance Bass describes what happened after he came out, how his mother prayed for a miracle – and how the miracle granted was not the one she expected.

Lance Bass

Lance Bass

The bulk of the post is in his mom’s own words, the text of a speech she delivered to a local church congregation. These are the central paragraphs of that speech  (read the full text at Huffington Post Gay Voices).

The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay… and the ‘Miracle’ That Occurred After

Seven years ago, we found out that Lance is gay. We were totally blindsided and devastated because never in a million years would we have guessed it. Also, because it was such a public thing, the situation was so much worse on the family. I do not want to go into the personal details of that revelation, but I will tell you that the first thing I did was fall to my knees and ask, “What would Jesus do?” I almost immediately knew the answer… love my son. And that is what I have done. Never once did I ever think about turning my back on him. Never once was I ashamed or embarrassed. My feelings were more of sadness and just sheer disappointment in life.

If you believe that being gay is a choice, then the rest of what I say will not matter. I do not know why, but even as a staunch Christian, I personally never believed that being gay was a choice. I never knew a lot of gay people, but the ones I did meet I felt compassion for because I could feel their pain of being rejected and my heart always went out to them. Even though I never did believe Lance chose to be gay, I did not accept it as quickly as my husband did. His attitude was “It is what it is.” My attitude was “Yes, it is what it is but my God can perform miracles so I’m going to beg for a miracle to zap Lance and change him to straight!” And I did just that. I continued to love my son, stand beside him, and defend him, but for several years I continued to pray relentlessly for a miracle.

Well, Lance is still gay. However, I did get a miracle. It is just not the miracle I prayed for. You are looking at the miracle tonight. The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven’t marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church’s role. My son is a Christian and wants to be able to worship, but he does not feel that the church cares about him and has pretty much disowned him as a fellow believer. There is something terribly wrong with that and I have to speak up on behalf of my son and others who find themselves in the same situation. When I was a little girl, I went to a celebration with my grandparents on the courthouse lawn in Laurel. I was thirsty and ran to drink some water from one of the water fountains. My grandmother screamed at me to stop. When I looked at the fountain it had the word “Colored” on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that. Just as my heart told me something was wrong that day on the courthouse lawn, my heart is telling me that something is wrong with the way the church treats those who are gay.

I could tell you many stories that gay young people have told me about how so-called Christian people have treated them but I will only share one. One of the young men told me that he was searching for God and visited a large church one Easter Sunday. He was enjoying the beautiful service and feeling so drawn to what he was experiencing.

Everyone was standing singing a hymn and when he sat down there was a note in his chair. It said, “You know you are going to hell.” He told me that he never went to church again. I don’t blame him, but to my knowledge, he has not accepted Christ and is lost.

via Huffington Post –  Lance Bass.

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British Supreme Court Rules: Anti – Gay Discrimination is NOT Permitted

They’ve already lost a series of court applications, and the resultant appeals, to allow them as Christians to discriminate against same – sex couples. Now, the British Supreme Court agrees: discrimination is not permitted under British law.

(Hazelmary and Peter Bull insist that in their defence that they are not discriminating against same – sex couples, but against all unmarried couples. In British law, however, civil partners are in effect, “married”).

Cornish B & B Owners Continue reading

LGBT Employment Protection in the Catholic Church

In principle, the Catholic Church’s social teaching includes strong support for workers’ rights, and protection from any form of injustice or unfair discrimination. Except, that is, where they are the employers, and the workers are LGBT. In such cases, the church insists on their own protection from the standard provisions of employment law.

Francis DeBenardo reports on one case where the judge clearly disagrees, which could have widespread implications for other cases around the US.

marla-krolikowski1

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Reclaiming Christianity from the Religious Right

There have been several recent reports of a petition to CNN, demanding that it no longer give Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins the credibility of exposure on its air time for his anti-gay views. What I did not originally appreciate, is that this petition did not originate from an LGBT group, or from marriage equality activists – but from a group of Christians, angry that people like Perkins, who misrepresent their prejudices as based on Christian obligation, are giving Christianity a bad name.

Christian Group Obtains 33K+ Signatures Asking CNN To Stop Hosting ‘Anti-Gay’ Tony Perkins

A Christian group has obtained more than 33,000 signatures for a petition demanding that CNN cease putting Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins on its airwaves with his “anti-gay” views.

The group, Faithful America, describes itself as a “community dedicated to reclaiming Christianity from the religious right,” refusing to “sit by quietly while Jesus’ message of good news is hijacked to serve a hateful political agenda.” As such, one of their causes is to put an end to the cable news outlet’s use of Perkins as a “voice for Christian causes.”

“Even as church bells rang out to celebrate a victory for equality,” the petition reads, “CNN once again turned to a hate-group leader to speak on behalf of America’s Christians. Tony Perkins doesn’t speak for us, and CNN needs to stop giving him a platform to spread anti-gay hate.”

The group laments that “CNN host Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge Perkins’ lies” in a segment about the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act. “[N]or did [Blitzer’s] segment feature any Christian leaders with a different point of view — despite polls showing that a majority of Christians actually oppose [DOMA].”

The plea concludes: “With America moving decisively towards full equality, it’s time for CNN to stop portraying Christians as voices of anti-gay hate.”

Originally the petition sought 15,000 signatures, but it has more than doubled that amount, garnering more than 33,600 signers since its posting nearly three weeks ago. Though CNN’s use of Perkins has led to this particular petition, the FRC head has also appeared on Fox News and MSNBC in the past.

No word on whether CNN will respond to the petition’s specific request.

via  Mediaite.

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LGBT-friendly Christians urge Hong Kong to protect sexual minority rights

Eighteen east Asian pastors and clergy urged the Hong Kong government to enact anti-discrimination law to protect LGBT citizens.

The clergy were speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the last day of the fifth annual Amplify conference in Hong Kong for LGBT-inclusive Christians in the region, attended by 300 people.

Many Christians in Hong Kong have actively opposed even a consultation looking into bringing in a law criminalizing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Christians organized a protest against the consultation last January.

Rev Silas Wong, head of Hong Kong’s Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship, who organized the conference said ‘true Christian belief is accepting of all including LGBT believers’.

‘It’s really amazing and encouraging to see so many people to come together for a conference like this one,’ said openly gay Singaporean pastor Rev Miak Siew to Fridae. ‘It’s the first few steps to healing and reconciling our faith and sexuality.’

Siew challenged anti-gay Singaporean pastor Lawrence Khong in January, but Khong refused to debate the issue of homosexuality and Christianity.

Malaysian born Rev Oyoung Wen Feng (also known as Rev Boon Lin Ngeo), who caused controversy when he held a celebration of his gay marriage in Kuala Lumpur last year, was also at the conference, as was openly gay popstar and member of Hong Kong LGBT rights group Big Love Alliance Anthony Wong.

The world’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, spoke at last year’s Amplify.

via  Gay Star News.

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EU Court Ruling Upholds Suspension for LGBT Discrimination.

Three British Christians who claimed their religious rights were violated by employers were told by European judges today that they could take their rejected cases no further.

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele saw their discrimination claims rejected by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg earlier this year.

Mrs Chaplin was switched to a desk job after she refused to take off a crucifix which hung round her neck, while Miss Ladele was disciplined by Islington council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

Mr McFarlane was dismissed from his role with the charity Relate after indicating he might have a conscientious objection to providing therapy to a same-sex couple.

The claimants attempted to take their appeals to the Grand Chamber of the Court but the judges have rejected their request.

Mrs Chaplin’s claims were rejected on the grounds that the removal of her necklace was necessary to protect the health and safety of nurses and patients.

Appeals by Miss Ladele and Mr McFarlane were dismissed on the grounds that disciplinary proceedings against them were justified.

The ruling stated that both Islington council and Relate were bound by duties not to discriminate against their clients and meant they could not support staff who refused to work with homosexual couples.

 – The Independent.

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‘Considerable opposition’ to homosexual’s priest training

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland says he was simply following church rules when he turned Eugene Sisneros down for progressing with a priest training programme because he was in a same-sex relationship.

Bishop Ross Bay

Bishop Ross Bay told a Human Rights Tribunal hearing in Auckland today he advised Mr Sisneros that entering the programme would be a dead end because of “considerable opposition” from church leaders on the matter.

It is the second day of the hearing over the alleged discrimination, which is being held at Auckland District Court.

Mr Sisneros claims he was barred from entering the programme because of his sexuality – a claim the bishop has denied, saying he was simply following the church’s doctrines.

Bishop Bay told the hearing he would not be opposed to changing his stance should church leaders alter the rules regarding the ordination of homosexual priests.

“There was no formal decision in effect … rather the bishops and I agreed together they would uphold such a policy while coming to a decision on this matter.”

Bishop Bay admitted he had licensed gay and lesbian priests working in Auckland since becoming bishop, but denied any inconsistencies in his upholding of the church’s doctrine in doing so.

In 2006 Mr Sisneros, 38, began a Bachelor of Theology degree and started signalling his desire to enter the training programme by writing to then Bishop of Auckland John Paterson, who said there was opposition to the ordination of gay clergy.

continue reading  – NZ Herald News.

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