Adventists Cancel ‘Holy Sexuality’ Confab; Egyptian Court OKs Deportation of Gays; Mongolian Trans Activist Gives TV Interview; Global LGBT Recap

A Russian nonprofit group, the St. Petersburg-based Coming Out, celebrated April 17 International Day of Silence by releasing a video “Break the silence,” which ends with “silence can break us / but we can break the silence.” A small Day of Silence protest last Sunday was reportedly broken up by police as “unauthorized.”

Shortly after a public celebration of the half a dozen gay U.S. Ambassadors now serving, BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reports that “multiple” LGBT foreign service officers said they need more support:

 “But, for many career staff, the department has not leaned hard enough on other countries to allow gay and lesbian diplomats to bring their families with them to overseas posts. Instead, they find they are sometimes shifted to less desirable posts in order to avoid conflict over their partner’s status or told the U.S. government will not help them bring their family members into a country that doesn’t recognize their relationship….

At last weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, President Barack Obama raised “rights for gays and lesbians” and said,

“We know that our societies are more likely to succeed when all our people — regardless of color, of class, or creed, sexual orientation, or gender — are free to live and pray and love as they choose,” said Obama. “That’s what we believe.”

Vatican: Church ends takeover of nuns’ organization

The Vatican has “abruptly ended its takeover of the main leadership group of American nuns two years earlier than expected,” reports the New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein, who reminds us that “Under the previous pope, Benedict XVI, the Vatican’s doctrinal office had appointed three bishops in 2012 to overhaul the nuns’ group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, out of concerns that it had hosted speakers and published materials that strayed from Catholic doctrine on such matters as the all-male priesthood, birth control and sexuality, and the centrality of Jesus to the faith.” Goodstein suggests the Vatican and the American bishops were eager to end the profoundly unpopular inquisition before Pope Francis’s U.S. visit this fall.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Cancels ‘Gay Cure’ Conference

Pink News reports that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had been planning to host a five-day “Holy Sexuality Conference” later this month, which was to include “ex-gays” and promoters of “healing” people of homosexuality. Organizers cancelled the conference in the face of public outcry, which included a petition that collected nearly 40,000 signatures. Organizers’ statement:

A decision was taken on Monday, 13 April to cancel the ‘Holy Sexuality’ Conference originally planned for London, 21-25 April 2015.

Seventh-day Adventists are a people of peace who believe in hope and dialogue. However, it appeared that rather than drawing people together the conference had the potential to divide. The Adventist Church recognises that the individuals invited to speak at the Holy Sexuality Conference have compelling life stories to share but equally appreciate that there are those who take a different point of view.

We are disappointed that in a society that values freedom of speech and divergence of opinion that there are those whose wish it is to silence individuals who hold a different point of view to their own.  We do not believe that the potential disruptions that were being planned for this event would have been beneficial either to the participants or to our friends in the LGBT community.  As such a decision has been made to cancel the event which had been locally organised by a group of members in the South London area.

The Adventist Church strongly subscribes to a belief in freedom of speech. This also includes the freedom to hold different views. The Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks to minister to all men and women in the spirit of Jesus, recognising that every human being is valuable in the sight of God.

As a Bible believing Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms the dignity of all human beings, and as a Church is well known for its commitment to community work both globally and locally in London.

A spokesperson for the British Union Conference of the SDA Church told Spectrum magazine that the conference was not cancelled because of the public protest “but because of a decision made by leaders of the South England Conference in concert with the British Union Conference.” Notes Spectrum:

Although the “Holy Sexuality” conference has been called off, “Coming Out” speaker and co-founder Michael Carducci is still scheduled to speak to the Youth at the North England Conference “Strong Families, Strong Churches” Camp Meeting, scheduled for June 8-14. Carducci is billed as “a ministry leader addressing his history from living in the Homosexual Culture, and being sexually addicted for over twenty years.”

Guam: Catholic Governor stalls on marriage equality in spite of Attorney General opinion

In Guam on Monday, Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero, having been denied a marriage license, sued the government, which falls under the legal jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Wednesday, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson ordered the department of public health to issue licenses based on 9th Circuit rulings, but Governor Eddie Calvo has stalled while his legal team does more research, earning the governor blistering editorial condemnation from the Pacific Daily News.  The Associated Press reported that the official biography of Calvo, a Catholic, says, “He is a man of deep faith, guided more by Christian values than any rule of politics.”

The Catholic Church weighed in in the voice of Father Francis Walsh speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese of Agana. He called marriage equality “a major social catastrophe,” linkening it to the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision. He said “what has to be done is total resistance for the good of the whole society.”

Egypt: Court says interior ministry has power to deport gays

An administrative court ruled this week that Interior Minister Gen. Magdi Abdel Ghaffar has the power to deport people accused of being gay. Judge Yahia Dakrory wrote that the ministry had the power to protect “the general benefits, religious values, social morals of society and to prevent the spreading of social ills,” according BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder.

Northern Ireland: Will ‘conscience clause’ bring Indiana-style backlash?

The fallout of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was felt in Northern Ireland, where lawmakers were warned that proposed “conscience clause” legislation could subject Northern Ireland to economic boycotts. Economy Minister Arlene Foster said she does not share those concerns. The legislation, which would “effectively exempt people with ‘strongly held’ religious convictions from equality laws” — is supported by the Catholic Church

Malawi: New marriage law protects children from forced marriage, discriminates against LGBTs

Human Rights Watch praised a new marriage law, which sets 18 as the minimum age for marriage, as an important step in protecting children from exploitation and preventing child marriage. But HRW said the government should seek to “revise provisions of the new marriage law that discriminate against transgender and intersex people as well as same-sex couples.” IGLHRC also criticized the law’s discriminatory features:

Jessica Stern, executive director of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: “It’s appalling that a law that attempts to address a serious human rights abuse like child and forced marriage would then also target Malawians for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It is stunning that the United Nations so far has been unwilling to state unequivocally that it rejects the discriminatory aspects of this law.

“It’s especially distressing because these discriminatory provisions discredit a bill that otherwise would provide much needed protection for girls—including gender non-conforming girls—from early and forced marriages.”

Chile: Civil Unions signed into law

On Monday April 13, President Michelle Bachelet signed a civil union law that had received final legislative approval in January.

Iran: Documentary on gays forced into gender reassignment surgery

HBO’s VICE documentary series, has taken on “a terrifying cultural landscape” with a report on gay men being compelled to have gender-reassignment surgery as a “cure” for homosexuality and means of avoiding execution.

Malta: Priest blesses gay couple’s rings, gets chastised by his superior

Father Mark Montebello was summoned by Archbishop Charles Scicluna after a news story broke about Fr. Montebello blessing the rings at an engagement party for two Catholic men. According to the Independent,  a church statement said that Mr. Montebello was encouraged to carry out his pastoral duties with homosexuap people, but always to abide by the Church rules and discipline. A spokesman for church leaders said:

“In terms of Church practice and discipline, the ritual blessing of engagement and wedding rings, and of engagement promises and marriage consent, is only allowed for engagements and marriages between a man and a woman.”

Bernice Bugeja, director of events for Gay Weddings Malta, commented:

“Priests bless boats, cars, houses and businesses, is it really such a big deal in our modern world that a priest decides to bless the love between two human beings?”

Ireland: Former President McAleese, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, endorse marriage equality

Former President Mary McAleese and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams declared their support for marriage equality, which is the subject of a May 22 referendum. Adams was quotes saying, “If you go back to the Proclamation [of the Irish Republic] it talks about all the citizens – it doesn’t say ‘unless you’re gay’ – it talks about all the children of the nation equally.” More from McAleese, who was president from 1997-2011:

The prominent Catholic also expressed frustration with the Catholic Church, saying it was “likely to change in future” on the issue.

She said: “Our thinking, the world’s thinking, about homosexuality is changing.

“The sheer weight of medical evidence, the sheer weight of psychiatric evidence now is challenging views that were formed, you could say, in ignorance, and I think they will change over time.

“They’ve already changed elsewhere and we’ve seen in many, many countries now embracing the idea that homosexuality is a perfectly normal human sexual expression and that it is, as it has been thought in the past, a skewed, or in the words of the church, the rather regrettable words of the church – when I think back to what Benedict has written about it when he described it as ‘intrinsically disordered’.

“Many of us do not believe it to be ‘intrinsically disordered’ but believe it to be a perfectly normal human adaptation.”

The Church has threatened to stop performing the legal or civil parts of a wedding if the referendum passes, which would require Catholic couples to have both civil and religious ceremonies.

Meanwhile, pro-marriage equality murals have been defaced.

Mongolia: Transgender activist gives deeply personal TV interview

There’s a remarkably open Interview with Anar Nyamdorj, a transgender man, a trilingual lawyer and founder and director of the LGBT Centre, the country’s first nonprofit created to address discrimination faced by LGBT people. Nyamdorj discusses his own childhood struggles, his transition, and the difficulties facing LGBTs in Mongolia.

Bahamas: Poll shows strong anti-gay opinion

The Nassau Guardian reported this week that roughly 50 percent of Bahamians “strongly disapprove” of homosexuals being permitted to run for public office. The survey was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, and asked people to indicate their approval on a scale of one to 10, with one being “strongly disapprove” and 10 being “strongly approve:

The survey shows that 50.2 percent of the participants strongly disapprove.

Another 23 percent indicated varying levels of disapproval.

Nearly 15 percent chose numbers five or six, suggesting that they didn’t have strong feelings either way.

Roughly 12 percent of the participants indicated varying levels of approval for a homosexual’s right to run for office.  Of that figure, 5.2 percent strongly approve.

The results are a part of the Americas Barometer survey, which is the only scientifically rigorous comparative survey that covers 28 nations, including all of North, Central, and South America, as well as a significant number of countries in the Caribbean.

During a press conference last year in February, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said the sexual preference of a politician should be irrelevant. He made the statement when asked if an open member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community could ever be elected to Parliament or as leader of the country.

“Martin Luther King said it is the content of your character,” Mitchell said. “That’s the only thing that matters. That’s what this country stands for, the content of your character.”

In response, Bahamas Christian Council President Ranford Patterson said the country is not ready to elect someone who admits to being a homosexual.

The survey also delved into Bahamians’ approval of same sex marriages. The responses were less favorable to the homosexual community with 74.5 percent indicating their strong disapproval of same sex couples’ right to marry. Another 14.7 percent indicated varying levels of disapproval. And 5.1 percent didn’t have strong feelings either way. Another 5.7 percent of those surveyed indicated some approval, of which, 2.8 percent indicated strong approval.

Brazil: EU backs effort to alleviate poverty among LGBTI people

Micro Rainbow International, a London-based nonprofit, announced that it had secured funding from the European Union “for a three-year project to help alleviate poverty among the LGBTI communities in Brazil.”