Anglican Communion Gets Anti-Gay Secretary General; Black Gay Christians Challenge Conservative Evangelicals in Africa; Global LGBT Recap

Anglican Communion: Anti-Gay Bishop Chosen as Secretary General

The Anglican Communion has picked Nigerian Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon as the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office. Karen Ocamb at Frontiers notes that while Idowo-Fearon might be bridge-builder when it comes to Christian-Muslim relations, “he has already burned bridges with the LGBT community.”  Last year, Idowu-Fearon praised the government for criminalizing homosexuality, asserting “out battle is not against human beings, it is against the devil.”

Ocamb points to a 2007 interview with the Dallas Morning News:

“My grandparents had practiced traditional religion before they became Christian. Now, in African traditional religion, if I had an attraction to a male person, that is considered as an abnormal thing, a spiritual problem. …

Now, when my grandparents met the English, who introduced us to the Christian faith, they read the Bible to my grandparents, and said, look, this thing you’re talking about, the Bible agrees that it’s sinful. So for us, the Bible supports our pre-Christian theology. We accepted it. We became Christian. And that is why in Africa, generally, if you have an abnormal sexual orientation, you don’t brag about it….

That’s why we feel we are deceived, we have been cheated by the people the Lord Jesus Christ used to introduce us to the Scriptures, to bring us to a new faith in the Lord Jesus. They are telling us that it’s not wrong after all, that it’s a natural way. But we say: You are wrong; the Bible is right. So it’s not just a question of human sexuality. It’s about the authority of Scripture. For us, Scripture judges every culture. What I hear in the Western world is that culture judges Scripture. That’s the basic difference. It’s not a question of sex or no sex.

Africa: Black gay Christians mount challenge conservative evangelicals

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and The Fellowship Global announced this week that they have “launched a month long tour of key African nations where LGBTI communities continue to experience extreme discrimination and persecution. These countries include: Uganda, Rwanda, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) and Kenya.” More from the press release:

Until April 30, 2015, Pastor [Joseph]Tolton will be on the ground working to counter this effort and provide an uplifting alternate narrative. The message advocates for inclusion, economic justice and the reconciliation of all people of African descent globally. “As black gay Christians who identify with Pentecostal worship and as people of social justice, we are countering the work of conservative, mostly white American evangelicals who are doubling down on their attempt of spiritual colonization of Africa,” said Pastor Joseph Tolton….

One of the tour’s primary goals is to clearly articulate the inextricable link between the global agenda of US conservative Christians like Rick Warren, the future of Christianity, and the fate of LGBTI people in Africa. The future of Christianity is not Europe or North America, but Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” said Pastor Rick Warren. Africa is ground zero for the Christian evangelical right-wing movement. Under the veil of economic development, Rick Warren is also planning a conference in Rwanda that sells a dangerous theology. This anti-gay propaganda has spawned the passage of anti-gay legislation across Africa and notably in Nigeria, Uganda and Gambia.

United Kingdom: Christian B&B owner runs for office; gay men seek pardons like Turing

A B&B owner in the news last year for taking their claimed right as Christians to deny unmarried couples from sharing a room will be running for office.

At the time he said: “We are taking the case to Strasbourg on grounds of religious freedom. The question we are asking is, did the British government give enough weight to our rights as Christians to live as Christians in the UK?

“It goes against the tenets of my faith and we are raising our children in this house. It is not anti-gay but we have mutual accommodation – there are establishments in the country that take gay men only. There are gay men only hotels.”

Mr Green, who has previously been a councillor and mayor in Llandrindod Wells, said he was finalising the paperwork to stand for election in Cardiff North. Llandrindod Wells, where he still lives, is 70 miles away from Cardiff.

The Guardian looks at the lives of some of the thousands of British men whose “lives are still blighted” by the kind of gross indecency charges for which Alan Turing was posthumously pardoned.

While the 1967 Sexual Offences Act finally legalised homosexuality, it did little to end public and police persecution. According to research by campaigner Peter Tatchell into arrest figures during the 1980s, there were more than 20,000 convictions for the predominantly gay-related offences of gross indecency, soliciting and procuring. Entrapment was common, with police acting as agents provocateurs in public toilets.

All of this came to an end in 2003, with the repeal of the crime of gross indecency between men. In 2012, it became possible for those convicted of homosexual “sex offences” to have their criminal records erased under the Protection Of Freedoms Act – though not those deemed to have been committed in a public place such as toilets, where much of the entrapment went on.

The process is slow and often painful, however, and campaigners such as James Taylor, head of policy at Stonewall, want to see it simplified and extended. “There are still thousands of men out there who face difficulties because of convictions on their records,” Taylor says. “The fight for gay rights is not over.” These are some of their stories.

BBC Scotland Radio documentary talks with trans people in Scotland about their lives.

Malta: Catholic nation adopts ‘world’s most progressive’ gender identity law

The officially Catholic nation of Malta has passed what BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder calls the world’s most progressive gender identity law.

The law is the latest in a series of LGBT rights laws ushered in by the Labour Party after taking power in 2013, a dramatic about-face for the country which has aconstitution establishing Catholicism as the official religion.

Catholic teachings have long held great influence over Maltese family law; Malta was among the last countries in the world to approve to divorce, which voters did by a narrow referendum in 2011. (The vote left the Philippines and the Vatican as the world’s only countries with no provisions for divorce.)

The law — which goes beyond those its fellow European Union members have passed — would allow for someone to change their legal gender through simply filing an affidavit with a notary without a significant waiting period, eliminates any requirement for medical gender reassignment procedures, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It now heads to the desk of President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and LGBT rights advocates expect her to sign.

It also includes some groundbreaking provisions for minors and intersex babies, those born without clearly male or female anatomy. Medical experts estimate that around .1 – .2 percent of children are born with atypical genitals that cannot be classified as either male or female, and in much of the world doctors operate on these children to make their anatomy clearly male or female.

But the Maltese law prohibits “non-medically necessary treatments on the sex characteristics of a person” without informed consent and also allows parents to postpone entering a gender marker on a child’s birth certificate.

Jamaica: Rights groups urge Obama to raise LGBT rights; musician challenges homophobia

Human Rights organizations have called on President Obama to raise concerns about Jamaica’s treatment of LGBT people during his April 9 visit to the country. As we have noted, conservative American evangelicals have traveled to the country to defend anti-gay politics there.

In the International Business Times, activist Peter Tatchell writes about the efforts of Mista Majah P, a “ground-breaking pro-gay Jamaican reggae singer” and his “two-part stinging video rebuke to the homophobia and murder music commonplace throughout Jamaican reggae and dancehall scene.”

Majah P’s support for the LGBT community isn’t a one-off, flash-in-the-pan. He is now working on a new album, Gays Belong In Heaven Too, which will be his third LGBT-affirming album since 2011. The previous two wereTolerance and The Closet Is Open.

Tolerance (2011) was the world’s first pro-gay reggae album. Featuring rainbow stripes on the cover, the album includes 13 catchy tracks, variously in support of same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, as well as attacks on homophobic bullying and the now-defunct US anti-gay military policy, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The songs also feature direct swipes at the anti-gay prejudices of reggae singer Beenie Man and of the former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Majah P’s follow-up album, The Closet Is Open (2014), has another 13 infectious tunes, including a lead track and video with the same title.

The album’s songs urge LGBT people to come out and win acceptance. They also appeal to parents not to reject their LGBT children, and condemn the Jamaican tendency to blame gay victims for their own murders.

Such lyrics are unprecedented in the hard-man world of Jamaican reggae and dancehall music, where eight of the best known performers have, for over a decade, made homophobic murder music a staple part of their repertoire – variously inciting and glorifying the shooting, burning, hanging and drowning of LGBT people.

Russia: Online LGBT support group targeted again

A St. Petersburg court will hear a case on Monday charging an online group, Deti 404, with a violation of the country’s anti-gay propaganda law. It is not the first prosecution under the law for Deti 404 and administrator Elena Klimova.

Kazakhstan: President expected to sign ‘propaganda’ law

Amnesty International organized a protest this afternoon in front of the Embassy of Kazakhstan urging the country’s president not to approve the Russian-style anti-gay propaganda law that he is expected to sign into law.

Asia: Sophon Shimjinda interview

Being LGBT in Asia posted video this week of an interview with Sophon Shimjinda, and LGBTI activist and television host, from February’s #BeingLGBTI in Asia Regional Dialogue.