American Evangelicals Attend Anti-Gay Summit in Moscow
We noted last week that the World Congress of Families’ planned summit seemed to be going ahead generally as planned, though without the official WCF imprimatur. That’s exactly what happened this week, with WCF officials Don Feder and Larry Jacobs in attendance, along with Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Miranda Blue reports at Right Wing Watch that the event, whose them was celebrating the role of large families in the preservation of Christian civilization, ended with summit delegates calling for Russian-style “homosexual propaganda” bans to be passed around the world. At Mother Jones, Hannah Levintova asks, “Did Anti-Gay Evangelicals Skirt US Sanctions on Russia?”
UN: Human Rights Office Reports on Free & Equal Campaign
The UN Human Rights office has produced a video commemorating the first year of its Free & Equal campaign to promote the rights of LGBTI people. According to the video, “In the past year, more than a billion people around the world have read, seen, or heard the campaign’s message of respect and acceptance.” It says UN country teams around the world are preparing or have launched their own campaigns. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among the human rights advocates who have recorded messages for the campaign; he says he opposed LGBT discrimination “with the same passion that I opposed apartheid.”
Cameroon: Stereotypes Land LGBTs in Jail
We have reported previously on the plight of LGBTs in Cameroon. This week Zack Ford at ThinkProgress interviews attorney Michel Togue, who says that people often face prosecution for homosexual behavior when the only evidence is an allegation backed by stereotypes, such as a man drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream.
The Catholic Church is one of the strongest forces reinforcing anti-gay stigma in Cameroon. Back in 2012, Simon-Victor Tonyé Bakot — then-Archbishop of Yaundé, Cameroon’s capital — said that homosexuality is “shameful, a disrespectful criticism of God who has chosen to create man and woman.” Before he was replaced in 2013, Bakot had also joined with Cameroon’s other Catholic bishops in issuing a statement condemning homosexuality, including the claim that “homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it.”
This stigma is also having a negative impact on health care in the country, particularly when it comes to HIV outreach. “They can’t go to the hospital for the treatment or even for a test because they’re afraid,” Togue explained. He knows of at least one case where an individual admitted to a nurse that he’d had same-sex relations and she called the police on him….
Togue finds it odd that his fellow Cameroonians rely on tradition to defend their anti-gay beliefs from Western influence. “You have a country like Gabon. We share the same culture and tradition… but in Gabon, homosexuality is not an offense! Can you imagine that?” He says it’s simply “wrong” to claim that anti-gay beliefs are inherent to their culture.
Gambia: Uganda-Like Anti-Gay Law Moves Forward
Gambia’s brutally anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh has called gay people “vermin” and threatened to kill Gambians who seek asylum in Europe. The Washington Blade and Associated Press reported this week that Gambia’s National Assembly has passed an anti-gay bill that includes life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality.”From the Blade:
Amnesty International said in a press release that lawmakers in the West African country passed the bill on Aug. 25.
The Associated Press said the bill’s “aggravated homosexuality” provision would also apply if the suspect is a parent or guardian of the person with whom they are accused of having same-sex sexual contact or is in a position of “authority over” them. The news agency further reported the measure is nearly identical to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act the country’s Constitutional Court overturned last month on a technicality.
“This bill is part of the rising tide of homophobia in many African nations, whose government leaders are working to deny the rights of their LGBT citizens through a campaign of misinformation and discriminatory laws and policies,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First, a Washington-based organization that advocates for LGBT rights around the world.
England: Church of England Plans Bishops’ Confab on Sexuality
The Church of England’s College of Bishops will hold a two-day meeting next week to discuss how the church can discuss sexuality issues without a “predetermined trajectory.”
A Church of England briefing paper for the meeting reads: “Under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, Canon David Porter, a team of around 20 trained facilitators will support a process of conversations across the Church of England. They will bring the skills necessary to ensure that the process provides a safe place for all viewpoints to be expressed and to keep the conversations to the objective of seeking understanding rather than having any predetermined trajectory.
“The process will begin at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September where the bishops will spend two days working in small groups with facilitators.”
Last year the Pilling Report recommended the church adopt a more conciliatory approach to same-sex marriages, but the House of Bishops refused to back formal blessings, and forbade gay clergy from marrying.
Ireland: Bishop Questions Catholic Group’s Donation to LGBT Center
The Independent reported last week that Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan sent a letter to the Society of St Vincent de Paul “demanding clarification as to the grounds” of a donation made by the group to “a Galway LGBT group which is trying to establish a resource centre in the city.” The SVP’s response reportedly says the support is based on an element of SVP’s ethos, which is “to be non-jundgmental when its assistance is sought.”
Israel: Gay Rabbi Installed at Conservative Synagogue
Gay Asia News reports that Rabbi Mike Goldstein, a native of England who has lived in Israel since 1989, was installed as the leader of Adat Shalom Emanuel, the only non-Orthodox synagogue in the city. According to the report, Israel’s Masorti (Conservative) movement approved the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis two years ago.
Goldstein, now 49 come out at the age of 24, when he was living in Israel where he attend rabbinical school in a bid to help loosen the hold that the ultra-religious have over Judaism in Israel.
“My motto is to give Judaism back to the people,” Goldstein told timesofisrael.com. “I feel that the Orthodox establishment in this country has hijacked Judaism.”
He attended the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary that trains rabbis in Israel for the Masorti movement, and since they were not admitting LGBT students then he went to New York to be ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary that was ordaining openly gay and lesbian students in the Conservative Jewish movement.
However, Israel’s Masorti Movement changed its own stance two years ago allowing for Israeli-trained lesbian and gay rabbis to join the Conservative movement in the country and committed itself to supporting and embracing gay and lesbians at every level.
According to Gay Asia News, Rabbi Goldstein’s partner serves as Israel’s ambassador to the Ivory Coast.
Latin America and Caribbean: Regional LGBT Summit
“Nearly 300 LGBT rights advocates from Latin America and the Caribbean attended a meeting in the Peruvian capital last week designed to encourage their further participation in the political processes of their respective countries,” according to the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers, who reports that attendees included activists from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Spain and the U.S.
Lavers recaps the regional context of change and continuing problems for LGBTs:
Same-sex couples are able to legally marry in 19 states and D.C., Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico City, French Guiana, the French islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy and the Caribbean Netherlands that includes the islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Lawmakers in the Mexican state of Coahuila on Sept. 1 overwhelmingly approved a same-sex marriage bill.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in May publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples ahead of his country’s presidential election. A handful of same-sex couples have exchanged vows in the South American nation since July 2013, but Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado has challenged these unions in court.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet last year backed nuptials for gays and lesbians during her election campaign. Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, has also spoken out in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples on the Communist island.
The Ecuadorian government is in the process of implementing a law that will allow same-sex couples to legally register their civil unions. Lawmakers in Peru and Chile are also considering the issue.
The Colombian Constitutional Court late last month ruled gays and lesbians can legally adopt the biological children of their same-sex partners if they meet certain requirements. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012 ruled in favor of lesbian Chilean Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband because of her sexual orientation.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2012 signed what many advocates describe as the world’s most progressive transgender rights law that allows trans people in the South American country to legally change their gender on official documents without surgery and an affidavit from a doctor or another medical provider. A bill that would allow trans Chileans to legally change their name and sex without sex reassignment surgery advanced in the country’s Senate earlier this year.
Cuba in 2008 began offering free sex reassignment surgeries to trans Cubans under the country’s national health care system….
Angélica Lozano, a former councilwoman in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, earlier this year became the first openly LGBT person elected to the Colombian Congress. Jaime Parada Hoyl in 2012 became the first out political candidate elected in Chile after he won a seat on the municipal council in Providencia, a wealthy enclave of Santiago, the country’s capital….
Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
China: British Diplomat Marries Boyfriend at Ambassador’s Residence
Last Saturday’s wedding between British consul-general to Shanghai Brian Davidson and his American partner Scott Chang is has reportedly “sparked a fierce debate over gay rights in China.” The wedding took place in the garden of the official resident of Britain’s ambassador to China, which is legally British sovereign territory.
Hong Kong: High Court OK’s ‘Right to Dance’ at Protests
This week Hong Kong’s highest court ruled in favor of LGBTI activists who had been fighting a three-year battle with police over the right to dance at political protests. The activists had staged a performance at an International Day Against Homophobia rally in May 2011, according to Gay Star News. Police had interrupted the performance saying that dancing was a form of entertainments that required an entertainment license. An attorney for the dancers told GSN:
This decision comes at an important time in Hong Kong – not only for Hong Kong citizens seeking to exercise their right to demonstrate, but also for LGBT members of the community wishing to express their views free from police harassment.
‘Our highest court has now sent the police a clear message that they can no longer use this piece of public entertainment legislation to restrict the rights of those seeking to exercise their constitutional right of assembly and protest.’