Anti-Gay, Anti Catholic Evangelical Sworn In As Mayor of Rio; More in Global LGBT Recap

Durga Sengupta at reported on progress and backlash on LGBT issues in India and around the world in 2016.

The Family Research Council praised the Trump transition team for demanding information from the State Department on programs and staff involved in promoting “gender equality.” Perkins complained that during the Obama administration the State Department operated “as a global base for abortion and sexual activism” that focused on “the election of people around the world based on sexual behavior.”

Brazil: Anti-Gay, Anti-Catholic Evangelical Sworn in as Mayor of Rio

Marcelo Crivella was sworn in as mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Crivello, a member of the Brazilian Republican Party is also a bishop in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God who has “preached that homosexuality may be caused by trauma suffered in utero—and that gay people may be the result of a botched abortion. He has reportedly called homosexuality a “terrible evil.” Here’s more from Dan Avery at NewNowNext:

Crivella, who campaigned on a promise to clean up crime in Rio, has also called Catholics “demonic” and claimed Hindus drank their children’s blood.

The Kingdom of God Church, one of the largest in Brazil with 8 million members, was founded by Crivella’s billionaire uncle. It’s frequently accused of corruption, money-laundering, intimidation and racketeering.

Imported from the U.S, evangelical Christianity has blossomed in Brazil: In 1970, just 5% of Brazilians considered themselves evangelical. Now that number is closer to one-fourth.

Fundamentalists have grabbed power in Brazil’s Congress, forming a voting bloc that’s throttled anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws: Lower House President Eduardo Cunha, who claimes Brazil is “under attack” by gays, is trying to overturn the 2013 ruling that brought marriage equality. Jair Bolsonaro, a prominent congressman, recommended corporal punishment to “cure” homosexuality, saying he’d rather his son die than be gay.

Gambia: Defeated President Refusing To Leave Office Now Blames Gays For Coup Plot

Intensely anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh has been refusing to recognize the results of the December 1 election in which he was defeated by his opponent. Now, a state-run newspaper is charging that “the LGBT lobby” is “allied with the Oil and Gas Lobby in an endeavor to understake a Regime Change Coup in the Gambia.” The inauguration of Adama Barrow, certified as the election winner by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, is scheduled for January 19. As the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers reminds us, “Jammeh in 2015 said he would slit the throats of gay Gambian men. He has described homosexuality as among the three ‘biggest threats to human existence’ and claimed he can cure AIDS.”

Russia: Orthodox & Nationalist Groups Use Anti-Gay Law To Target Artistic Freedom

Free Muse reports that Orthodox and nationalist groups are threatening artistic freedom, using groups that make the “insult of religious beliefs and feelings illegal,” along with the ban on “gay propaganda.” For example:

In February 2016, Orthodox activists from the “Narodny Sobor” (People’s Assembly) group, led by member of parliament Vitaly Milonov, attempted to stop the performance of ‘All Shades of Blue’ at the Baltic House theatre in St. Petersburg, due to its plotline of a boy who decides to come out as gay to his family.

The group attempted to dissuade people from watching the play by talking to theatregoers and handing out fliers explaining the “perverted nature” of the main character.

The play was eventually disrupted when a bomb threat was called in to the theatre, which led to the evacuation of everyone inside. After police determined there were no explosives in the venue, and despite the late evening, the performance went on anyway as the audience was determined to watch the show once the venue was declared safe. The performance the following evening was again disrupted by a bomb threat, which proved false, and the performance went on anyway as the audience again waited for police to clear the building.

Milonov, a member of ruling party United Russia, was the principal sponsor of legislation that criminalised “homosexual propaganda directed toward minors” and is an ardent opponent of the LGBT movement.

Iraq: Kurdish group launches pro-LGBT human rights campaign

The Rasan Organization,  Kurdish human rights group, has painted pro-LGBT murals on the walls of three high schools in the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, reports the Washington Blade. The group’s campaign also includes public service messages about domestic violence.

Canada: Profile of Pro-LGBT Muslim Academic

At The Griff, Anna McMillan profiles professor Junaid Jahangir and his activism on behalf of LGBT Muslim youth.

Junaid Jahangir, a professor of economics at MacEwan University and an advocate for gay Muslim youth, said this isolation is common for many LGBT Muslim people. He has been fighting for LGBT voices to be heard for over a decade, and recently published Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions – a book that breaks down some of the misunderstandings surrounding how same-sex relationships are perceived in Islam…

During his search for answers, Jahangir wrote an article about showing compassion to those whom he said had been given the “burden” of identifying with a sexuality outside of the norm.

“When I wrote that article, I was viciously attacked (by scholars who study Islam),” he said.

Since then, Jahangir has been passionate about using Islamic scripture, modern logic, and genuine goodness as a means of pushing back against the homophobia that exists within some Muslim communities.

“We have a whole lot of patriarchal garbage which has crept into a beautiful religion,” Jahangir said.

Homophobic rhetoric is, of course, not specific to Islam, or any religion, for that matter. Instead, it can be rooted in fear or a lack of understanding.

In his recently-released book, Jahangir explores and debunks the religious rhetoric commonly used against homosexuality.

Jahangir says that orthodox conservatives dominate public discussion on homosexuality and Islam and says progressive Muslims must make their support for LGBT people public.

 “I want (progressive Muslims) to get emboldened and raise their voices,” he said. “I want their voices to go higher – so high that they drown out the orthodox voices. That’s what I want to see, and that’s going to be a slow process.”

While the process is slow, change could be coming – or at least there’s a semblance of change.

“Twenty years ago, if you asked any mainstream scholar about this issue, they would’ve said it’s an abomination,” Jahangir said. “They would have said it’s a major sin. They would have said that there is no room for it in the religion.”

“You cannot deny the basic human need for intimacy, affection, and companionship to anyone,” he said.

Because of the increased visibility of LGBT groups and a growing acceptance of same-sex relationships in some societies, many orthodox scholars are still resistant to LGBT people, but have become less verbally aggressive about the issue.

Malawi: Catholic Bishops Active in Anti-LGBT Movement

New Ways Ministry reports on Catholic bishops’ cooperation with other religious leaders in last month’s protect marches against LGBT equality.

The Citizens’ March for Life and Family was actually a series of smaller marches throughout the country, reported The Tablet. In addition to protesting homosexuality, these marches, which involved some 60 denominations and more than 50 Christian organizations, also included protests against expanded abortion rights.

Organizers said the Citizens’ March for Life and Family urged Malawians to oppose legalizing homosexuality, an act they referred to as “a direct attack” on family life. Catholics played a leading role in the March, which was sponsored in part by the (Catholic) Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and chaired by Martin Chiphwanya, the National Secretary for the Catholic Commission for Justice, reported Nyasa Times.

Catholic church leaders were also active locally. According to MalayMail OnlineFr. Francis Tambala told marchers in the major city of Blantyre, “We say no to gay and lesbian unions. (Lawmakers) must vote no to homosexuality as history will judge us harshly if we don’t stand against abortion and same-sex marriages.”

…Actions by Catholic officials come about nine months after Malawi’s bishops called for the government to begin enforcing the nation’s ban on homosexuality. In its pastoral letter for the Year of Mercy, “Mercy of God as a Path to Hope,” the ECM called for the government to begin enforcing the nation’s law against homosexuality and stop bowing down “to pressure from donor community, international bodies and local human rights campaigners.”

New Ways Ministry’s Robert Shine notes that Catholic bishops have significant influence even though only 20 percent of the country if Catholic, due to the bishops having “played a key role in the country’s 1992 transition to democracy and have been described by some as the conscience of their nation.” Comments Shine, “In a nation where LGBT people remain illegal and marginalized, the bishops should be using their moral authority to foster greater respect and equality for all persons.”

Catholic Church: Canadian Bishop Steps Down; Gay Abstinence Group Gets New Leadership

Courage, a ministry dedicated to helping gay Catholics live celibate lives in line with church teaching, has a new executive director, Fr. Philip Bochanski.

Bishop Fred Henry of the Diocese of Calgary resigned after almost two decades in office. During his tenure he was known, according to The Canadian Press, “for his hardline stances on protections for LGBTQ youth and the HPV vaccine.”

Henry, who oversaw 67 parishes and missions with a Catholic population of more than 435,000, was one of three Catholic bishops to criticize the Alberta government last year over its plans to protect LGBTQ students in schools, particularly transgender children.

“Totalitarianism is alive and well in Alberta,” Henry wrote in a public letter to his faithful last year.

“This approach and directive smack of the madness of relativism and the forceful imposition of a particular, narrow-minded, anti-Catholic ideology … and must be rejected.”

Education Minister Dave Eggen later said he had reached common ground with the religious leaders, based on a shared concern for having safe and caring schools.

India: Catholic Group Offers Pastoral Support to Transgender People

The Catholic News Service reports that a “pro-life” ministry in the state of Kerala “has formed a group of priests, nuns and laypeople to respond to the pastoral needs of transgender people.”

Formed in Cochin under the aegis of Pro-Life Support, a global social service movement within the church, the ministry is significant as it is one of the few outreach programs for the transgender community by the institutional church in India.

“The whole church has a big role to play,” said Father Paul Madassery, who is in charge of pro-life support for the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council. He noted Pope Francis had talked about the need to give “pastoral care to the LGBT community.”

“There is an active sex racket from North India eyeing transgender people in Kerala. They are trying to exploit the discriminatory situation they face,” Madassery told

Scotland: Priest Urges LGBT Issues Be Taught In Schools

Rev. John Nugent of the Church of Scotland is urging that LGBT issues to taught in the country’s schools.

Nugent said: “I believe that all inhabitants of our planet have rights that go along with being human. One of those rights grants an education that will further the individual’s development so that she or he can grow into full personhood. Denial of that right is therefore unconscionable.”

“Inclusive education is crucial to the full development of the individual and denying access to inclusion is tantamount to a denial of human rights. Schools and other places of education, faith centres and youth organisations are the appropriate loci for this. If our young people grow in an inclusive atmosphere then gradually bigotry, prejudice and bullying will end.”

He continues, “In this sense, the LGBT community has led the way ahead of faith communities – which should be inclusive, but sadly aren’t.”

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar and actress Emma Thompson also support the campaign along with faith leaders Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Islamic scholar Amanullah De Sondy.

Philippines: Bill to Boost Police Protection for LGBT People Advances

A bill to established LGBT help and protection desks in police stations nationwide was approved by a legislative committee in the House of Representatives. .

Singapore: LGBT Youth Activist Profiled

At Yahoo News, Kyle Malinda-White profiles Daryl Yang as he steps down from a year leading an LGBT youth activist group:

“Like Audre Lorde said, we don’t live single-issue lives and a queer movement cannot succeed as an isolated movement. The project of our future, I believe, lays in whether we can queer other movements and forge a fairer and more just society together,” said Daryl, mentioning how some queer Singaporeans may not necessarily identify with LGBTQ activism to this day.

“I think we need to rethink our movement because we are more than the decriminalisation of homosexual relations or the contestation for space to gather in pink once a year.”

The G Spot has had a successful run thus far – it was incepted in 2013 and was first mentioned in The Straits Times in 2014 as a varsity club that offers a safe space for others to share their experiences on matters such as feminism, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Denmark: Trans Identities Removed From Mental Disorders ist

Denmark removed transgender identities from its official list of mental health disorders.

Italy:   Bologna Opens the First Center for LGBT Refugees in Italy 

The city of Bologna is reportedly preparing to open Italy’s first shelter designated for LGBT refugees.