Catholic Church Campaigns Against Gay US Ambassador; Global LGBT Recap

The Human Rights Campaign held a Global Summit this week, bringing together activists from around the world. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and U.S. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry were among the speakers.

Transgender Day of Visibility

March 31 was commemorated as International Transgender Day of Visibility. This week, published an interview with Mahdia Lynn, founder of the Transgender Muslim Support Network. And Huffington Post interviewed Emmett Claren, a transgender Mormon.

Transgender Europe published an update on more than 2,000 reported killings of transgender people around the world in 2008-2015. India’s Humsafar Trust released a short video that delivers an anti-discrimination message in one and a half minutes.

Two days before TDoV, Nisha Ayub, Director of SEED Malaysia, received a 2016 Woman of Courage Award from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry; she is the first transgender woman to be honored with the award.

Human Rights Watch and others have called attention to mistreatment of trans women in U.S. Immigration detention facilities.

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged a review and overhaul of gender recognition law to ensure that it reflects internationally recognized best practices.

Dominican Republic: Religious Leaders Ramp Up Campaign Against Gay US Ambassador

As we have reported previously, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez has been an outspoken critic of openly gay U.S. Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster. American activist David Mixner reported this week that the Cardinal is not simply making criticial statements but is waging a campaign:

As I headed to the Dominican Republic for my little ‘Spring Break,’ the news that Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez was unhappy with the United States for appointing an openly gay and married ambassador was not particularly new information. From day one, the cardinal has made his disapproval clear.

However, after arriving in Santo Domingo, I was shocked to see the extent of the cardinal’s campaign against Ambassador Wally Brewster and his husband Robert Satawake. During my visit, the front pages of every newspaper were filled with an unbelievable campaign of hate by the Catholic Church against the talented, personable and hard-working couple. The barrage of attacks has been vitriolic and unrelenting.

Three times in the last months the cardinal has referred to the ambassador as “the little faggot.” Schools run by the church have banners outside banning the ambassador from entering their premises. The Catholic Conference of Bishops passed a resolution demanding the government protest Ambassador Brewster. Every day there is a new broadside from the Church filled with intolerance and outright hate. The open disrespect for a United States ambassador is unchecked and unprecedented.

The Washington Blade has more details about the campaign against Brewster:

Nearly 32,000 people have signed the petition that a group of Dominican evangelicals posted to the White House’s website earlier this month.

A group of Catholic bishops in the Dominican Republic have urged Medina’s government to formally complain to the U.S. about Brewster’s “conduct” that includes visiting schools and attending public events with Satawake.

A group of intellectuals and religious leaders in the predominantly Catholic country earlier this year urged Medina and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare Brewster “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed education initiative they contend seeks “to turn our adolescents gay.”

In an Associated Press story by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, local activists said that in spite of the vocal criticism by religious leaders, Brewster’s presence has helped make a positive cultural shift in the country. Dr. Victor Terrero, director of the National Council on HIV and AIDS, told AP that the fact that Brewster and his husband have been guests of President Danilo Medina has “contributed to the breaking of much of the stigma” around homosexuality. “It has shown in a way that (homosexuality) is not a sin, nor is it something to get crazy about.”

Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives began their own campaign to publicly support Brewster, using the hashtage #ImWithWally. Brewster told the Windy City Times last week that he has never questioned the support of the Obama administration, saying that “the President of the United States has our back and so does the administration. So we’re going to keep doing our job.”

Malawi: Pastors Threaten to Sue if Govt Does Not Arrest Gays

The Young Pastors Coalition of Malawi is threatening to sue the government if it does not arrest what it says are 4,000 homosexuals living in a northern city because not arresting LGBT people “amounts to promotion,” reports Pink News. Homosexuality is illegal put the government has put a moratorium on enforcement of the law.

Malawi’s Justice Minister, Samuel Tembenu, said it would be better for pastors to focus on pastoral care than matters of state.

He said: “Let our pastors continue doing their good work of saving lost souls. However, they should let experts in human rights, constitutionalism and law enforcement to do what they are supposed to do.”

The figure of 4,000 people came after the Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) conducted research in order to try and tackle the HIV crisis in the country.

Greenland: Church Celebrates Marriage Equality Law Taking Effect

Marriage equality goes into effect in Greenland on April 1. “Greenland’s Bishop has welcomed the arrival of a gender-neutral marriage law and the Greelandic Church worked closedly with the government to amend the portion of the Danish law that covered same-sex blessings in religious weddings,” according to The Perchy Bird.

More from the website of the Parliament:

On 01 April 2016, the latest change of the Marriage Act shall enter into force for Greenland. The change makes it possible for homosexuals to get married – civilly or religiously.

Minister for the Church, Nivi Olsen, says: “We have long waited for this day. To have the opportunity to enter into marriage means a lot to many couples regardless of the gender of one’s partner. I am therefore pleased that a united Parliament adopted in 2010, finally made it a reality.”

The Department for Education, Science, Culture and Church Affairs, in collaboration with the bishop’s office, prepared the practical implications of the amendment, and on Thursday, March 31, the Minister for the Church has officially authorized the new rituals for same-sex weddings in the church.

The Government warmly welcomes this new opportunity and the national church rejoices that we are ready for the new era.

Philippines: Government Seeks to Dismiss Legal Challenge to Marriage Ban

Solicitor General Florin HIlbay asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a challenge to the Family Code ban on same-sex couples marrying. The government’s lawyer said the petition was flawed because Jesus Nicardo M Falcis III, the gay man who filed it could not show “injury in fact” from the law and had not included Congress in his petition.

Falcis also said that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, can also fulfill the essential marital obligations laid down by the Family Code such as the obligation to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity and render mutual help and support, fix the family domicile and support the family and pay the expenses for such support and other conjugal obligations.

“Thus, petitioner submits that homosexuals and same-sex couples do not and cannot harm the institution of marriage. In fact, homosexuals and same-sex couples can serve to forward the compelling interest in protecting and strengthening the family as a basic autonomous social institution. Consequently, there is no necessity to limit marriage as between a man and a woman to protect and strengthen the family. There is actually a necessity to allow same-sex marriage,” he added.

Malaysia: Minister Says Govt Programs Can Keep People Away From LGBT Activity

A government minister said that keeping one’s mind occupied can help people avoid involvement with LGBT culture, which he said are “against Islam,” reports Suzanne Lazaroo at The Star. The Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, and the Federal Territories Islamic Department were among sponsors of a symposium on “Marriage Issues, Family Matters, Entrepreneurship and Management.”

Kyrgystan: Commentary: Scapegoating NGOs, LGBTs Won’t Fix Economy

Last week Franco Galdini, writing for The Diplomat, argued that the government’s crackdown on non governmental organizations and LGBTs is bad for the country. He writes that the rise in anti-gay rhetoric reflects both the influence of Russia and the desire to deflect attention from a slumping economy by identifying enemies.

Tunisia: Human Rights Watch Report on Police Abuse of Men Accused of Being Gay

Human Rights Watch released a report detailing the abuses in detention and prison of men prosecuted for homosexuality. “Tunisia’s law criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct among adults is discriminatory and invited abuse by the police of gay men and men perceived to be homosexual,” says the report.

Balkans: Activists Use Data, Desire to Join EU For Leverage

The Guardian reports that LGBT activists in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Bosnia are collecting data on hate crimes to use as leverage as the countries seek to join the European Union.

Saudi Arabia: Death Penalty Reportedly Being Considered for Coming Out on Social Media

A Saudi newspaper reported last weekend that prosecutors in Jiddah have proposed raising the penalty for people who come out online to capital punishment. The U.S. State Department told the Washington Blade it was aware of, but could not confirm, those reports.

India: International Commission of Jurists Calls For Repeal of Sodomy Law

Last Friday the International Commission of Jurists released a briefing paper calling on the Supreme Court to decriminalize same-sex relations. The Court has agreed to review its 2013 decision that reinstated the colonial-era sodomy law.

Newsgram published John Burbidge’s memoir of his journey of personal and sexual discovery as an Australian living in India.

Sri Lanka: LGBTI Activist Profiled

Alturi profiles Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, a Sri Lankan native who left the country as a teen and returned years later. She cofounded EQUAL GROUND, which has advocated for LGBTI Sri Lankans for a dozen years.

China: Lack of Marriage Equality Sends Lesbian Couples to Overseas Sperm Banks

Global Times reports that Chinese lesbian couples are using overseas sperm banks because they do not have legal access to IVF services in China.