Norwegian Catholic Church May Stop Civil Marriages; Global LGBT Recap

The World Bank has created a new senior level position focused on LGBTI-inclusive development.

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, a group that addresses the needs of vulnerable migrant communities, has published “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Epxression: Essential Terminology for the Humanitarian Sector.” The glossary has initially been published in English, French, Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic.

The London-based Kaleidoscope Trust has published a set of recommendations designed to help The Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth) to improve the lives of LGBT people even though, as 76 Crimes notes, “dozens of those countries  still have anti-LGBT laws inherited from their former colonial overlords.” The group’s “toolkit” includes suggestions for civil society groups to work with law enforcement, health care, and policymakers to build on progress that has been made in some Commonwealth nations.

In an op ed about the toolkit, Kaleidoscope Trust’s Felicity Daly and Lewis Brooks write,

Laws which are used to persecute LGBT people often are remnants of those imposed by the British colonialists. While criminalising same sex relationships between men were the original target many have since evolved to expand criminalisation to same sex relationships between women and/or increase penalties for offenders.

Thus the legal legacy of Empire feeds contemporary discrimination, persecution and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and, in some countries, state repression.

When compared to the aspiration of the Commonwealth Charter, agreed by all 53 members, such abuses are clearly counter to the organisation’s stated values, a point made clear by outgoing Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma.

The European Parliament adopted a report last week expressing the European Union’s concerns over freedom of the media, freedom of expression and association, and the rights of LGBTI people in Central Asian nations.

Anglican Communion: Conservatives Continue Movement Building

The Anglican Communion’s divisions over issues of sexuality continue to be reflected at the leadership level. The Anglican Consultative Council met this month, and agreed “to continue to seek appropriate ways for the provinces of the Anglican Communion to walk together with each other and with the primates and other Instruments of Communion.” Earlier this year the primates had called for the Episcopal Church to be suspended for three years from participating in decision making regarding doctrine or policy.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby indicated that he was planning to speak honestly about divisions in the Communion on issues of sexuality:

Welby went on to say that when he had met the previous day in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the notorious African leader had asked him about the communion’s stance on same-sex marriage. The archbishop said he told Mugabe that while Anglicans have “widely differing views … the majority opinion is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman.

“And that the unanimous opinion of the primates’ meeting was that the criminalization of LGBTIQ people is entirely wrong.”

“I don’t think it would be fair to say that he entirely agreed with me,” Welby added.

In the future, Welby said, “When I talk to people I am going to be honest. Let’s never pretend that things are other than they are. We are not entirely united on the issues around human sexuality. We have profound and important divisions among us. It’s clear what has been the majority opinion among us. It’s also very clear that, when it comes to criminalization, that we are deeply committed to combatting that in every place where we find it and not supporting those who support it.”

Conservative Anglican primates associated with GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) met in Nairobi, Kenya from April 18-21. They made plans to training bishops and prepared for GAFCON 2018, which will be the 10th anniversary of the conservative Anglican manifesto, the Jerusalem Declaration, and the third GAFCON conference. According to a GAFCON communique:

We are excited to announce that the new chairman of the Primates’ Council is the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Anglican Church of All Nigeria. He is joined in leadership by the new vice-chair, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Archbishops Okoh and Ntagali have been deeply committed to the GAFCON movement since its founding, and are well prepared to lead.

The communique also complained that the sanctions proposed against the Episcopal Church, which GAFCON says were “the mildest rebuke to only the worse of the offenders” have not been upheld:

Last January, we spent time together at the Primates Gathering contending for a restoration of godly order within the Anglican Communion. The sanctions passed at that meeting were not in themselves capable of restoring order, but they were a potential first step.

At that meeting, we acknowledged the reality of the “significant distance” between us and “expressed a desire to walk together” if possible. This distance was created when The Episcopal Church walked away from the Anglican Communion’s doctrine on sexuality and the plain teaching of Scripture.

Within hours of the meeting’s end the public responses from many bishops, clergy, and lay people of The Episcopal Church made it clear that they did not desire to share the same journey. The biblical call to repentance is a call to make a 180 degree turn. It grieves us that many in The Episcopal Church have again rejected this call. While we desire to walk together, until there is true repentance, the reality is that they are deliberately walking away from the Anglican Communion and the authority of Scripture at a distance that continues to increase.

The recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia has again highlighted the inability of the current instruments to uphold godly order within the Communion. Delegates from the Episcopal Church, by their own admission, voted on matters that pertained to polity and doctrine, in defiance of the Primates. This action has damaged the standing of the Anglican Consultative Council as an instrument of unity, increased levels of distrust, and further torn the fabric of the Communion.

Nonetheless, we give thanks that these events have brought further clarity, and drawn GAFCON closer together in the mission of the Gospel. We are of one mind that the future of the Anglican Communion does not lie with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written. What others have failed to do, GAFCON is doing: enabling global fellowship and godly order, united by biblical faithfulness. This unity has provided us with great energy to continue to work for the renewal of the Anglican Communion.

The American Anglican Council is affirming its belief that GAFCON’s leaders provide “the hope for a future Anglican Communion that finds its identity in Jesus Christ and Biblical faithfulness rather than institutional loyalty.” New Zealand is the latest country with a branch of the GAFCON-affiliated Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. More reporting on intrigue within GAFCON is at

Canada: Sikh Parade Welcomes LGBT Participation

The Hindustan Times reports, “Breaking social taboos over homosexuality within the local South Asian community, the organisers of the Baisakhi parade created history by including LGBT community in the event.” The report says that LGBT flags and signs were part of the parade contingent of Unifor, a Candadian private-sector union.

According to Pall Singh Beesla, who was the in-charge for floats that participated in the parade under the aegis of Khalsa Diwan Society, the oldest Sikh religious body in Canada, this was the first time that LGBT community not only joined the Baisakhi parade, but got an opportunity to participate in the Sikh religious parade anywhere in Canada.

The development is important considering the religious significance of Baisakhi, which also happens to be the birthday of the Khalsa Panth that was created by the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699….

“Sikhism is a forward thinking religion that does not discriminate against anyone, so why discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation?” Beesla said.

The Hindustan Times notes that some orthodox Sikhs oppose homosexuality and that “the Sikh clergy in India had advised Canada-based Sikh lawmakers not to support a bill in support of same sex marriages.”

Only recently, when the lesbian premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne visited India, the Sikh priests announced that she won’t be honoured at the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in Amritsar. However, several prominent Sikhs in Canada have been consistently supporting the rights of the gays and lesbians in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights that guarantees equality to visible minorities.

Norway: Catholic Church May Stop Performing Civil Weddings

Bishop Bernt Eidsvig asked the Vatican for permission to stop performing civil weddings to avoid any confusion with the Norwegian Lutheran Church which, as we have reported, voted earlier this month to celebrate weddings for same-sex couples.

Bishop Eidsvig told the Catholic News Agency: “It’s clear we must distinguish our own Church marriages from others.

“This is a matter of liturgy, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect broader change in our society’s moral values.

“But politicians may now get aggressive toward churches who resist these weddings, so the best option is for us to stop conducting marriages on the state’s behalf.

Regarding the Lutheran Church’s decision to begin performing same-sex marriages, he added: “My own reaction is one of sorrow and disappointment, and we can’t foresee the longer-term consequences for inter-church contacts here.”

More from the Catholic Herald in the UK:

Bishop Eidsvig and three Protestant Norwegian leaders sent a statement to Norway’s Vart Land daily, saying same-sex marriage violated “not only the Christian understanding of marriage, but also the historic and universal view of marriage”. The statement said the introduction of separate civil and religious ceremonies would protect other churches from “increased pressure to consecrate same-sex couples”.

Catholics make up a small minority of the 5.2 million inhabitants of Norway.

Pope Francis will visit Lund, Sweden, on October 31 for an ecumenical service with Lutheran World Federation members to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Eidsvig said it was unlikely the same-sex marriage controversy would be mentioned during the one-day event, adding that he hoped the Pope would also include a meeting with Catholics.

Catholic Church: LGBT-Affirming Catholics Respond to ‘Amoris Laetitia’

New Ways Ministry’s Bob Shine reviews some of the ongoing responses to Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, which we reported last week was not generating much joy among LGBT Catholics. Shine quotes Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro: “The apostolic exhortation is not just the last step of a long process. It is going to be another starting point.” Shine also cites Sr. Christine Schenk’s commentary from National Catholic Reporter:

“The most distressing aspect of Amoris Laetitia is that it fails to incorporate the experiences of LGBT Catholics who also live deeply loving, holy and committed family lives. . .Instead of pastorally validating that great goodness exists in these relationships, the exhortation simply repeats condemnations of same-sex unions and adoptions by same-sex couples.”

Kaya Oakes, writing in Foreign Policy, suggests the dangers of Francis’s decentralizing approach:

“Handing this measure of flexibility to the clergy is a risky way of bringing about reform. The clergy are, after all, as diverse in their opinions about family life as the people they serve. . .It could, theoretically, also cause local church leaders to act more independently and harshly toward LGBT Catholics as a result of that independence — as the bishops in Malawi recently did when they denounced the government for failing to imprison LGBT citizens.”

Australia: Australian Christian Lobby Partners With Anti-Equality American Evangelicals

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, reported the Sydney Morning Herald on April 16, was scheduled to “share a stage at the Australian Christian Lobby’s annual conference with a radio host who compared the advancement of gay rights to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany.” The event that weekend featured American religious right figures Eric Metaxas and Jeffery Ventrella, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Gay rights leaders have called for the Treasurer to pull out of the event and have warned that the Australian Christian Lobby’s alignment with the US group is a sign it plans to step up its campaign against the LGBTI community.

“This is a group that is leading the legal fight to deny the human rights of LGBTI people around the world and we should all be deeply concerned that they are being paid by the Australian Christian Lobby to appear here, particularly as we prepare for what could be a very damaging plebiscite on marriage equality,” said Victoria’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Rowena Allen….

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton defended paying for Mr Ventrella’s appearance at the “Cultivating Courage” conference, saying it was becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia.

“If this is where it’s going that it’s no longer tolerated that you can hold the view that marriage is between a man and a woman then obviously we’re going to need legal representation to protect those freedoms and that’s why we’ve invited ADF to our conference.”

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission posted a video on LGBTI and Aboriginal identities.

Scotland: Catholic Lesbian Activist ‘Never Felt Need’ To Break With Church

New Ways Ministry calls attention to an interview from last month by the Scottish Catholic Observer with Ruth Hunt, a Catholic lesbian who heads LGBT advocacy group Stonewall.

“I think at Stonewall we have often seen the idea that the faith community and LGBT community have to come to blows as something artificially constructed,” she said.

”There are many LGBT people of faith and many LGBT people have lots of friends and family in faith communities. To think in terms of binaries and opposites is not helpful.”

Ms Hunt admitted she was surprised that people have been so interested in her own Catholicism.

“I was brought up Catholic, I believe in one Holy Roman Catholic Church,” she said. “I believe it is where Christ is most accurately reflected. I feel at home there, I maintain a good relationship with the Church, I am pleased to be part of it.”

She said she ‘had my moments’ of doubt but the Church was ‘part and parcel of my life growing up’ and when we had some difficult times in our family’s life, when I was 12, 13 the Church became this very important thing that wrapped around us and supported us.”

She said her study of medieval English at university and figures like Julian of Norwich had fascinated her and reaffirmed her Faith.

“I never felt the need break away,” she said. “In the past, when I didn’t go I found I missed it, it provides community and creates a space that is very profound and spiritual for me.”

France: Gay Flight Attendants Seek Opt Out From Flights to Iran

Earlier this month, gay flights attendants for Air France sought the ability to opt out of working flights on a new route to Tehran; female flight attendants were previously given that option after some objected to the requirement that they wear a head scarf when deplaning in Iran.

Malaysia: Top Cop Says LGBT People Cannot Be Police

A top law enforcement official said that LGBT people are not permitted to join the police force because “the LGBT culture is not accepted in this country.” According to the Malaysia Chronicle:

He was responding to a question if the Malaysian police force would start accepting applications from openly gay or transgender people, in line with changing times and the growing acceptance of such people in the West and even in India….

The local LGBT community remains in the shadows, particularly Muslims, fearing persecution from religious authorities in the predominantly Muslim country that has religious laws prohibiting same-sex relationships and cross-dressing.

Only a handful have stood up against the discrimination and marginalisation, most notably transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub who was also awarded for her grit by the United States government recently.

Uganda: SMUG Reports Increased Persecution

Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBT advocacy group, released a report on Friday documenting what it said was an increase in “persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity” since President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti Homosexuality Act in 2014. (The law was overturned by the country’s high court on procedural issues.)

Colombia: Court Postpones Final Marriage Equality Ruling Again

The Constitutional Court has once again postponed a final ruling on marriage equality.

Chile: Gay Cop Celebrates Civil Union

Reuters reports:

“A uniformed policeman celebrated his gay civil union in Chile’s capital, Santiago, on Wednesday, the first time a member of the force has taken advantage of a new law allowing civil partnerships in the conservative South American nation.”

According to Rolando Jimenez, leader of the Chilean gay rights group, Movilh, the move represents a broader trend of police and military beginning to knock down barriers to inclusion.

“So, this is an historic milestone, and we thank and value the bravery of this first officer to publicly take this step,” he said.

Russia: Police Disrupt LGBT ‘Day of Silence’ Event

Russian police disrupted a protest in St. Petersburg last Friday at which about 50 activists gathered to commemorate the Day of Silence. More from Daily Xtra:

The event, organized through Russia’s leading social media platform, Vkontakte, called for LGBT people and their allies to gather at the square. Participants were asked to tape their mouths shut with red tape to symbolize how homophobia in Russia is hushed up, despite the fact that, according to the Russian LGBT Network’s research, dozens die annually because of hate crimes.

The group planned to march through downtown distributing pamphlets about the Day of Silence and the impact that silencing hate crimes has on LGBT people.

Although Russia’s anti-gay-propaganda law, passed in 2013, prohibits the dissemination of information about “non-traditional” sexual relations to minors, the flashmob’s activities should not have been criminal as long as the pamphlets were distributed only to adults.

But the procession was cut short when police stopped participants and demanded they remove the tape from their mouths and cease distributing the pamphlets.

Israel: Man Convicted of Pride Parade Killing

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who stabbed a 16-year old to death during last year’s Pride parade in Jerusalem was convicted on Tuesday of murder and attempted murder.

Some LGBT activists have called for cancellation of Tel Aviv’s Pride celebration in protest against the disparity between limited government support for local LGBTQ groups and the nearly $3 million committed to a marketing campaign to attract tourists to Israel for the event.

The Jerusalem Post published a commentary this week by Robin H. Kohen arguing that traditional teaching on homosexuality contradicts other Jewish ethical imperatives.

Slovenia: Domestic Partner Legislation Creates Equality With Exceptions

The National Assembly passed domestic partner legislation providing formal legal recognition for LGBT couples; the law does not extend equality to marriage, adoptions, and in-vitro fertilization.

South Korea: Government Agrees to Honor U.S. Service Members’ Same-Sex Weddings

South Korea’s government has agreed to allow married same-sex couples in the U.S. military to have the same legal protection and legal benefits as other military families.