Tag Archives: LGBT equality

Caribbean Priest Urges Constitutional Protection for Lesbians, Gays

The Caribbean is not noted for its tolerance of LGBT rights, but as Trinidad debates a proposed new constitution, a Catholic priest has caught national attention for speaking up in favour of building LGBT protections into its Chapter on Human Rights:

Trinidad

 

PRIEST BATS FOR GAYS

‘They should have rights as other people have’

A Catholic priest has come out in support of the gay community, saying their rights, including the right to love whomever they want, should be included in the Constitution.

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Dr Fr Stephen Geofroy captured the attention of the audience with his comments during consultation on the draft Constitution at the University of the West Indies Sport and Physical Education Centre, St Augustine, on Monday evening.

Geofroy said the matter should not be debated further and instead Government should be embracing of all its people.

“Now on the issue of sexual orientation being subject to further national discussion…discussion about what? Aren’t LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), aren’t they not humans still, yes or no?” said Geofroy.

“Yes? Then they should have rights as other people have,” he continued as he received loud applause from the packed hall.

Geofroy said there was no debate on whether gays are people or not as they have expressed themselves clearly that they are part and parcel of this country’s culture.

“We’ve come over a long history of slavery and indentureship and now it is time to break the many things that denigrate the person,” said Geofroy.

“This is certainly one of the things we have to do and we have to be very decisive of it.”

Geofroy said there has been discrimination on the basis of race, colour and class in this country.

“…I don’t see the difference with sexual orientation. We are citizens of a country and people have the right to love who they want irrespective,” said Geofroy .

He said to continue discussing the issue at a national level without taking a decision was to go the way of other countries such as Nigeria and Uganda as part of a political agenda.

“I think we should avoid that like the plague,” he said.

Geofroy said the rights of a minority should not be suffered because of the majority as the bill of rights speaks to upholding the dignity of all.

“We do not belong to a theocracy, neither are we in a religious oligarchy where people impose their beliefs on others,” said Geofroy.

He said if it was this way then moves would be made to criminalise adultery, masturbation and the use of condoms.

“Then all of these things should be looked at and in my tradition I would say first, they are all sins so I think we have to be very careful on human rights and our rights to our own belief but not the right to impose it on the rest of the population,” he said.

via  Trinidad Express Newspaper 

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Catholic ‘Dignity’

According to “Vatican digs in after gay marriage advances” (Tribune, Nov. 11), the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriages because “Catholic teaching holds that homosexuals should be respected and treated with dignity but that homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered.’” If you truly believe the former, how can you believe the latter?

If you believe in treating blacks with dignity, but that they should also be slaves, what kind of dignity is that?

Being polite and kind is not treating someone with dignity, which means “the quality of being worthy or esteemed.” How is denying a life of committed love to someone wired to be attracted to the same sex treating them with esteem?

Of what worth do you esteem them to be worthy of? Of being an emotional eunuch? It’s that self-fulfilling approach that makes them “disordered.”

Catholics aren’t treating gay men with dignity; they aren’t treating them as worthy men created with liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness in their own way. No, with marriage, it’s the pursuit of happiness the Catholic way — even if you’re not Catholic — or not at all.

That how it was in the Middle Ages, not in 21st century America.

Dean Spencer

Salt Lake City

-letter to The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Why the Church Should Fight Anti-Gay Bigotry

Last week, I called attention to, but did not write about, an important article by former Ambassador Thomas Melady and the Reverend Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical leader. The two men wrote about the need for Christians to oppose efforts in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality, including life-time prison sentences and even death as penalties in certain cases. I think Melady’s and Cizik’s article is very important.

Many gay men and women see the Christian Church as unjust and bigoted towards them. For purposes of this article, I will only consider the situation of the Catholic Church. Just today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in publishing its notice about Sr. Margaret Farley’s book on sexual ethics, reaffirmed the teaching that: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” It is not difficult to see how gay men and women could find these words hurtful and even demeaning, even though the CDF precedes this bit about “intrinsically disordered” by affirming the fact that the Church also teaches gay men and women “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

I should like to see the Catholic Church, and the broader Christian community, do more to focus on the teaching about “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and think Melady’s and Cizik’s article does this. It does not ask the Church’s leaders to do something they do not think they could, i.e., change the Church’s teaching. It does not ask the Church to reverse its views on marriage. Instead, the call to oppose unjust discrimination against gays in Uganda asks the Church to do what it can.

Michael Sean Winters

-full post at National Catholic Reporter

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61% of UK Christians back equal rights for gay couples – Survey

There is extensive evidence that the US is moving to embrace full equality for lesbian and gay couples, and that Catholics are more supportive than the population at large. American Evangelicals though, remain (mostly) hostile. There has not been nearly as much polling for the UK, but a new survey shows even more support than in the US – including from 61% of all Christians.

61% of Christians back equal rights for gay couples

Results of a poll released today say 61% of people in the UK who identify as Christian back fully equal rights for gay couples.

The 2011 Ipsos MORI study explored the “beliefs, knowledge and attitudes” of people who identified as Christian after the nationwide census last year.

74% of respondents said as Christians they thought religion should not have a special influence on public life.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Six in ten respondents, 61%, agreed that gays should have the same rights in all aspects of their lives as straight people.

Only 29% said they disapproved of sexual relationships between gays. Nearly half said they did not actively disapprove.

– full report at  PinkNews.co.uk.

A word of caution here, is that the survey was sponsored by the explicitly secularist Richard Dawkins Foundation, which is using the results to demonstrate that the UK is a secular society, and not a “Christian country”. It does not appear to have released the full questionnaire or tables. The only results currently available are those selected for inclusion in the press release by the Foundation. In particular, the description “Christian” appears to be used for those who describe themselves as such – many of whom do not actively practice their religion.

There is no reason to disregard the main thrust of the finding though, which is in agreement with what previous research is available. British opinion is firmly on the side of LGBT inclusion – and that includes those who think of themselves Christian.

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Oz State Premier Stands Up To Cardinal Pell, Secures Gay Adoption for NSW.

Breaking news today is that the New South Wales state assembly has narrowly approved a bill to put LGBT and heterosexual couples on an equal footing for adoption procedures. There are still a few hurdles to clear before this becomes final, but (as far as I can tell), with this one, the biggest has now been cleared. This is big news for queer Catholics. The formidable Cardinal Pell made clear his strong opposition – but the equally strong support of the Catholic NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, appears to have been decisive in providing just enough resistance.
Kristina Kenneally, Catholic and Advocate for Adoption Equality

Perhaps it was the full-fledged backing given to the Bill by New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, which took the wind out of the sails of opponents. “In forming my position on this Bill, I have considered my experiences as a mother, my responsibilities as a parliamentarian and my conscience as a Christian and member of the Catholic faith,” she told lawmakers. Instead of proving divisive, it served to unite New South Wales’s main political outfits with Opposition Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell also voting in its favor.

This is an important reminder to all of us that the “Catholic Church” is far more than the bishops and cardinals who claim to speak for us. They are fully entitled to speak on behalf of the Vatican and Vatican doctrine – but when they claim to speak on behalf of “the church”, research evidence consistently shows that they deceive. On numerous issues of sexual ethics, ministry, and papal authority, the evidence is that right across the globe, most Catholics simply do not agree with orthodox Vatican doctrine.

This decision is also important as another indicator of an Australian paradox. In the global march to family equality, Australia stands out as an oddity. Although surveys have shown that a strong majority of Australians support full marriage and adoption rights for same sex couples, there is still no national provision for either, and both of the major political parties opposed full equality during the recent election campaign. Below the surface, however, there have been increasing signs of a gathering groundswell of support that could soon force the issue. The election result, which produced a hung parliament with increased influence for independents and a stronger Green Party, may show the major parties how mistaken they were – and may pave the way for a major rethink. It is significant that the NSW result came after a “conscience” vote in the assembly (that is, members were permitted by their whips to take their own decisions, rather than following a party line). It is believed that a conscience vote on marriage in the national parliament could attract significant support.
Meanwhile, even as Canberra dithers, there are regular advances at state level, with the adoption decision in New South Wales just the latest of several.   Earlier this week the Tasmanian lower house voted to recognise same sex marriages conducted elsewhere, which means that Tasmanian couples will be able to secure secure legally recognised marriage easily enough – provided only that they are willing to travel abroad for the wedding. (Several countries which currently recognise marriage equality do not have residency requirements. Nepal could soon be another.)
Gay adoption is already recognised in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, which is also the only state to conduct formal civil partnerships. (New South Wales and Victoria maintain less formal domestic partnership registers, which makes it easier for same sex couples to achieve the de facto recognition that in principle they are entitled to – but which in practice can be difficult without suitable documentary evidence of the relationship.)
Each separate move at state level inevitably leaves the population that much more accustomed to the idea of family equality, and queer families increasingly visible as ordinary members of society, deserving equal treatment before the law, just like everyone else. Each advance bring the next one closer, eroding still further the resistance. Even before the vote in last month’s election, the Greens were promising to introduce a bill to provide for national gay marriage. When they do, they and the newly influential independents in the hung parliament will aim to secure a conscience vote. I suspect that even if they get one, it is unlikely that gay marriage will pass just yet. However, it is clear that Labour at least lost votes as a result of their stand against equality. The coming vote on a Green bill for marriage equality will not be the last. Sooner or later (and probably the former), the politicians will realise they are on the wrong side of history, and stand up for justice.
Cardinal Pell will soon have a lot more to worry about than adoption equality in one more Australian state.