Bad News for LGBT Anglicans, Mormons, Adventists, Norwegians, Russians, Georgians, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Saudis…

This week’s recap begins with three global churches affirming opposition to marriage by same-sex couples and in the case of the Adventists, even membership by non-celibate gays.

Anglicans: Archbishop of Canterbury: Gay Marriage = Death for Christians

Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the Anglican Communion, said that if the Church of England accepts same-sex marriage, it will lead to the killing of Christians in Africa.

Speaking on an LBC phone in, Justin Welby said he had stood by a mass grave in Nigeria of 330 Christians who had been massacred by neighbours who had justified the atrocity by saying: “If we leave a Christian community here we will all be made to become homosexual and so we will kill all the Christians.”

“I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America. We have to listen to that. We have to be aware of the fact,” Welby said. If the Church of England celebrated gay marriages, he added, “the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic. Everything we say here goes round the world.”

As the Guardian report noted, Anglican churches in Uganda and Nigeria have backed the brutal new criminal penalties imposed on gay people in those countries.

Mormons: Apostle Affirms Commitment to One Man-One Woman Marriage

Mormon Apostle Neil Andersen, speaking at a biannual national conference in Salt Lake City, affirmed the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage.    

“While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not,” said Andersen, an Apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve, the second-highest governing body of the church, according to the AP. “He designated the purpose of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults, to more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared and nurtured.”

Andersen also encouraged his fellow Mormons to remain steadfast in their convictions against what he said is an increasingly forceful pro-equality movement on social media.

Andersen reportedly said he admires those who “struggle with same-sex attraction” but “stay true to the commandments of God” by remaining celibate.

Today, April 10, the Tenth Circuit Court will hear the state of Utah’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex couples getting married.

Adventists: Church Leadership Adopts Anti-LGBT ‘Guidelines’

We have reported on a recent summit in which global leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church discussed the church’s response to LGBT people. This week, church leaders officially adopted “Guidelines for the Seventh-day Adventist In Responding to Homosexual and Other Alternative Sexual Practices.” The guidelines state clearly that pastors should not officiate at same-sex weddings but go further in saying that people who live outside biblical teaching on sexual conduct should not be admitted or retained as church members. The document was reportedly brought up at the very end of the day when about 80 of 200 delegates were still present, and without information usually provided about committees that had approved it.

Spectrum Magazine reported before the vote that the guidelines include the following language;

 “The Seventh-day Adventist Church will encourage all its congregations, employees, ministry leaders, organizations, and entities to uphold church teachings and faith-based practices in Church membership, employment, education, and marriage ceremonies, including officiating at weddings. These teachings and faith-based practices, built upon the Bible’s instructions about human sexuality, are equally applicable to heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It is inconsistent with the Church’s understanding of scriptural teaching to admit into or maintain in membership persons practicing sexual behaviors incompatible with biblical teachings. Neither is it acceptable for Adventist pastors or churches to provide wedding services or facilities for same-sex couples.” 

The document is presented as guidelines rather than policy because decisions about membership are made at the local congregational level. The General Conference may not be able to constitutionally enforce them, says a representative of SDA Kinship, but the guidelines will affect the climate in which local congregations and Adventist ministers, teachers, and nonprofits work. Last year, an Adventist pastor in Maryland was fired after he signed a civil marriage certificate in Washington state for his step-daughter and her partner.

Norway: Church of Norway Won’t Let Priests Marry Same-Sex Couples

This week the Church of Norway, a protestant denomination, rejected a proposal that it allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, reports Agence France Presse, even though most of the country’s bishops supported the proposal.  

Norway was among the first countries in Europe to grant homosexuals full rights, including marriage and adoption in 2009, but the Church does not marry same-sex couples.

Eight of Norway’s 12 bishops said in October they favoured such a move, but on Tuesday the Church’s highest decision-making body the synod rejected the proposal….

Delegates at the national synod also rejected proposals to allow priests to bless a gay marriage on the sidelines of a civil ceremony.

But they also voted against a proposal to maintain the status quo and reserve marriage for heterosexual couples, plunging the synod into chaos.

“It (the rejection of all options) is something that no one had foreseen and no one knows now what will happen,” bishop Tor Berger Joergensen told public broadcaster NRK.

“We must have a little time now to look into the procedures.”

Russia: Legislator Calls for Saudi-Style ‘Morality Police’

Vitaly Milonov, the author of a regional anti-gay “propaganda” law that helped build momentum for the passage of a national law last year, has called for the creation of a “morality police force” that would fine people who violate “traditional values.” His targets appear to include not only gay people but those from minority religions.

According to Agence France-Presse, the Milonov said the force would be made up of “spiritually whole people belonging to traditional faiths for Russia, without rotten liberal values.” He says, “Children must be shielded from debaucher, propaganda of sodomy, asocial lifestyles and sects.”

Georgia: Prime Minister Calls for Constitutional Marriage Ban

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has introduced a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between one man and one woman in order to avoid “misinterpretation” of a proposed law against anti-LGBT discrimination. “If passed, Georgia would join six other EU Member states with constitutional same-sex marriage bans, including most recently Croatia, which in December 2013 passed its ban. Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also ban same-sex marriage.”

South Africa: President ‘Respects’ Ugandan Law; Gay Judge Publishes Memoir

In response to a parliamentary question this week, South African President Jacob Zuma refused to condemn Uganda’s anti-gay law, writing, “South Africa respects the sovereign rights of other countries to adopt their own legislation.

Also this week, Edwin Cameron, an openly gay judge who joined South Africa’s Constitutional Court in 2009, launched a book that traces his personal journey as well as the country’s journey toward justice.

According to an Associated Press report by Christopher Torchia, Cameron’s book, Justice: a Personal Account, recounts personal hardships, including his 1986 discovery that he is HIV positive and illness that was beaten back with anti-retrovial drugs.  Cameron told AP that he is troubled by the wave of anti-gay legislation in other African countries:“There’s absolutely no doubt that the end of this is going to be a recognition that homosexuality is as African as it is human anywhere in the world,” Cameron said. “Whether that’s going to take another 20 years or 30 years or in my grieving moments, 40 years even, I don’t know.”

Kuwait: Anti-Gay MP Calls for ‘Zero Tolerance’ But Willing to Seek ‘Cure’

Andrew Potts of Gay Star News reports“Kuwaiti MP Hamdan Al Azimi, who earlier this month called for the police to raid gay people in their homes has said he is willing to meet with homosexuals who want ‘solutions for their issues.’”

Kuwaiti MP Hamdan Al Azimi has called for homosexuals to come forward to have their ‘physiological and psychological issues’ ‘treated’ by health professionals just days after he called for police to raid homosexuals in their homes to catch them in the act.

Earlier this month Al Azimi called on the Interior Ministry to launch raids on apartments where ‘gay people indulge in their illicit debauchery that could not be tolerated under any pretext.’

He now says he wants to talk to Kuwaiti homosexuals seeking “solutions” for their issues, but that gay foreigners should be “deported promptly” because “our virtue-based society has zero tolerance for them.”

Al Azimi heads a national commission against “negative phenomena” and said he wants the Interior Ministry to deal more harshly with gay people: “‘We feel that if the authorities were stricter in dealing with them, we would not see these gay people continue their decadence and depravity.’

‘The commission aims to achieve reform, but at the same time, it cannot tolerate disgraceful behavior or allow practices that are contrary to Islam and to moral integrity,’ Al Rai reported him saying on Sunday.

‘We do know some people have physiological problems that could be addressed properly by experts,’ he said, ‘We will start sitting with those who seek genuine help starting next week.’

Egypt: Four Men Reportedly Sentenced to Prison for ‘Debauchery’ in Anti-Gay Crackdown

Conor Sheils, an Irish writer living in Cairo, reports for Cairo Scene:

Four men have been jailed for hosting gay sex parties as part of a brutal crackdown on homosexuality in Egypt. The men were stood accused of hosting so-called “deviant parties” and cross-dressing in women’s clothes. Three were sentenced to eight years and a fourth to three years behind bars on trumped up debuachery charges. 

The news comes after it emerged that three men arrested for so-called indecent acts (dressing in womens’ clothing) last month at a party in Nasr City, are still being detained in secret. Sources close to the men who were arrested for dancing while wearing female clothing at a nightclub in the busy resort. He said: “The men have completely disappeared. Even their families do not know where they are. They are really scared.”

Sheils quotes an anonymous source saying, “It is a very difficult time to be gay in Egypt right now. People are terrified, it is crazy.”

Saudi Arabia: Police Arrest 35 for ‘Gay Party’

Thirty-five men attending a party were reportedly arrested by religious police in Saudi Arabia this week. According to Gay Star News:

The police took the arrested men to the station and kept the dresses and music equipment until an investigation is complete.

LGBTI rights in Saudi Arabia are non-existent. Homosexuality is taboo and punished with jail, flogging, chemical castration or even death.

Trans men and women are considered gay and suffer the same fate.

Entrapment by the religious police does not necessarily lead to prosecution, but often results in life-long financial and/or sexual blackmail.

Ali, a 31 year-old gay law student in Jeddah told Gay Star News: ‘Once the Hay’ah [religious police] have your identity on record for being gay, you are very likely to face financial and even sexual blackmail.

Argentina: President will Godmother to Child of Lesbian Couple

President Cristina Fernandez, who led Argentina to becoming the first South African country to legalize same-sex marriage, over the objections of the Catholic Church, has agreed to become the godmother to a lesbian couple’s baby, Pink News reports.  won a battle with the Catholic church four years ago and Argentina became the first South American country to legalise same-sex marriage.

World Congress of Families Slams Obama Admin for Sanctions on Backer of Russian Adoption Ban

Don Feder, communications director for the World Congress of Families, told the right-wing WorldNetDaily that head of the Russian parliament’s committee on families Yelena Mizulina was included in the U.S. government’s list of Russian leaders sanctioned in the wake of the Crimea annexation because the Obama administration is “controlled by the gay lobby.”

Mizulina is among the organizers of the WCF’s 2014 summit, which is scheduled to be held in Moscow in 2014, though planning is now on hold. She promoted the anti-gay propaganda ban and the ban on Russian children being adopted by American parents.

Feder told WorldNetDaily that Mizulina was “absolutely right” in her push to ban American adoptions because children could end up adopted by same-sex couples. “The Russians are very traditional people,” he added. “They have a strong religious orientation. They haven’t got caught up in the whole politically correct thing that has captured so many people in this country.”

“They don’t want to see Russian children placed with homosexuals,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t blame them.”

Serbia: US and EU Ambassadors Meet with Activists 

This week the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) met in Belgrade with US Ambassador Michael Kirby and Head of EU Delegation Michael Davenport in the wake of death threats against the leaders and members of the group. Kirby reportedly said “We talked to their activists about what had happened. We will continue to support the work of human rights of LGBT people, which for us is a basic human right.”

Caribbean: Dennis and Judy Shepard Meet with Officials and LGBT Activists

The Washington Blade reports that the parents of Mathew Shepard are meeting with LGBT rights activists and others in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica this week.

“We’re going again to talk about human rights and equal rights throughout these countries at the behest of organizations and human rights activists within those countries and with the support of our own government,” added Dennis Shepard. “If Matt was alive, we wouldn’t be doing this. It would be him.” 

The Shepards’ visit to Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica is their fourth trip abroad with the U.S. State Department. 

The couple traveled to Singapore, Taiwan and Sweden late last year. The Shepards visited Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Hungary in September 2012. 

UK: Protest Against Planned Deportation of Lesbian Nigerian Asylum Seeker

Activists are planning a Friday protest against plans by the Home Office to deport 46-year old Apata Adejumoke, who claims she was subject to violence and her girlfriend was murdered in Nigeria and that she fears for her life if she is returned there. Anti-gay violence and official persecution has been on the rise since passage of a harsh anti-gay law in January.

Amnesty International Panel on LGBT Rights

This week a Ugandan LGBT rights activist Clare Byarugaba participated in a panel at an Amnesty International USA national conference in Chicago. Other panelists included All Out co-foounder Andre Banks and Chicago transgender educator Trian Alexander. According to a report in the Windy City Times, Byarugabe said, “I don’t feel safe in my own country. Our leaders have sanctioned homophobia and intolerance of the LGBT community. [Our] leaders are calling for prosecution rather than protection.”

More from the Windy City Times’ Jason Carson Wilson:

Religious influence, particularly the U.S brand of conservative Christianity, has created and exacerbated issues facing LGBTI people in the United States and abroad, which Byarugaba and Alexander have learned from experience.

“I’m uncomfortable in those spaces,” Alexander said. “I’m not sure how I’ll be perceived.”

Their experience has made religious institutions suspect to them. Byarugaba said only one Ugandan clergy has shown support for LGBTI people.

“We don’t have enough visible faces,” she said. “We’re not after your children. We just want to hold hands with our partners.”

 

 

Peter Montgomery, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches, is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he was on staff for 15 years. Before that he was associate director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause and wrote for Common Cause Magazine, an award-winning journal featuring investigative reporting about the federal government.

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