Founder of Liberal Mosque in Germany Under Guard After Death Threats; And More in Global LGBT Recap

Seyran Ates, the Muslim feminist who founded a liberal mosque in Berlin that welcomes LGBT people, is under police guard after death threats (photo courtesy Wikimedia)

A dozen UN agencies issued a joint statement calling for an end to discrimination in health care settings; the statement includes sex, sexual orientation and gender identity among the marginalized and stigmatized groups that are vulnerable to discrimination.

In Antigua for the World Congress of Families’ recent anti-LGBT Caribbean regional conference, Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton said local activists were “deeply concerned about the push of what they call ‘ideological colonization’ from the US and Western Europe upon their communities. a tsunami upon their islands.” WCF’s Don Feder criticized politicians who promote kinds of marriage “from which society derives no benefit.” Feder, according to the Antigua Observer, “posited that homosexuals cannot fulfil the most basic purpose of marriage which is procreation and child rearing.”

At Pride in London on Saturday, which mayor Sadiq Khan said was the biggest pride parade ever, some Christians apologized for how the church had treated LGBT people. Khan told the crowd that the celebration was the “best antidote” to recent terror attacks. AP reports that more than 25,000 people marched in the parade, “with up to 1 million people watching in central London.” At the parade, a police offer said yes to a marriage proposal from her girlfriend.

Mexico: Anti-LGBT bus inspires protest; PAN politicians resist Court on marriage equality           

The international anti-LGBT bus-and-billboard campaign mobilized by HazteOir in Spain and the National Organization for Marriage in the U.S. has made it to Mexico. Taking a cue from NOM President Brian Brown’s description of the bus in the U.S. as the “free speech bus,” the National Front for the Family is calling their version the “freedom bus.” GayStarNews reports that in Guadalajara LGBT activists wrapped the bus in a rainbow flag:

Jaime Cobián, a protestor, said ‘these right-wing groups want to remove the rights’ of the most vulnerable people.

‘Gay people are not what you fear,’ he said. ‘They are your sons, fathers, brothers, bishops and priests.’

He added: ‘Since Mexico is moving forward in LGBTI rights, we will not let there be a setback.’

Paloma Amézquita Carreón, a deputy with the National Action Party (PAN) who is the president of the local congressional Family Legislative Commission, appeared at a press conference with the National Council for the Family (Confamilia) and rejected the Supreme Court of Justice’s rulings in favor of marriage equality. More from La Jornada Aguascalientes (translation by Google):

Amézquita said that in the plenary session on Thursday, the PAN party will vote against the point of agreement presented by Deputy Ivan Sánchez Nájera to bring to the discussion the legal figure. The initiative that has been tackled since the last three legislatures is not cause for a split between the PAN, she said, since “National Action is favor of marriage between mother and father.”

The PAN denied that her links with the Confamilia organization, linked to the Catholic Church and with which she shared the presidium, damaged her image before society: “It does not affect me because I am being congruent with my principles, values ​​and statements that I have Given above “

Malaysia: Anti-LGBT Islamist group calls for boycott of Starbucks, Microsoft over pro-equality stances

Perkasa, a group that AP says “supports a hard-line form of Islam and nationalism,” called for a boycott of companies, like Starbucks and Microsoft, that support LGBT equality.

Perkasa said in a statement that the Malaysian government should revoke the trading license given to Starbucks and other companies such as Microsoft and Apple that support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Amini Amir Abdullah, who heads Perkasa’s Islamic affairs bureau, said Muslims should stay away from Starbucks because its pro-gay rights policy is against Islam and Malaysia’s constitution.

In response, “pro-moderation advocate” Tawfik Ismail “wants Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali to reveal what he intends to do if he finds out his prayer mat was woven by a gay weaver,” reports Free Malaysia Today. If so, Ismail asks, “are his prayer invalid?”

Perkasa Islamic affairs bureau head Amini Amir Abdullah had also urged Putrajaya to revoke business licenses of such companies.

Pointing out that Apple CEO Tim Cook is openly gay besides supporting LGBT rights, Tawfik questioned if this meant all Muslims in Malaysia should also give up their iPhones and iPads. …

Asked about the possibility that some Muslims will find fault with fellow Muslims who don’t support the boycott, Tawfik said Muslims are only answerable to God and not Perkasa.

“All Muslims know that the first word Prophet Muhammad heard, in the name of God, was ‘Read’.

“So, the only way you can be ‘less Muslim’ is if you don’t use God’s gift of the brain to read and therefore, understand, and decide on your own and be guided by your own conscience.

“You can also be ‘less Muslim’ if you delegate God’s power and might to Perkasa and abdicate your personal faith in God for Perkasa.”

Meanwhile, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said that not supporting the boycott did not make one less of a Muslim.

“Just because you don’t support Perkasa’s statement, that does not mean you are ‘not Muslim enough’.

The Advocate’s Nico Lang wrote about T. Nhaveen, an 18-year old beaten to death by his classmates “because he was deemed insufficiently masculine.”

Little is known about the deceased’s sexuality, but his death speaks volumes about the stigma of being perceived to be gay — or even a little bit feminine — in a country where homosexuality is effectively illegal. Anti-LGBT tensions have been rising in Malaysia in recent years as its conservative government cracked down on the country’s queer and transgender population. The brutal killing, in which Nhaveen was repeatedly sodomized with unidentified objects, is merely the most horrific in a string of attacks on LGBT Malaysians in the cross hairs.

Germany: Founder of liberal mosque under police guard after death threats

“The feminist founder of a Berlin mosque that received worldwide media attention for permitting men and women to pray together and welcoming LGBT Muslims says she is under round-the-clock protection from German police after threats on her life,” reports Newsweek:

In the days since her Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque opened last month, Ates said, she was asked while crossing the street by three men if she headed the “perverse” mosque where “men, women, lesbians and gays” pray together. When she responded to the men, she said, one shouted: “You’ll die!”

Ates also accused Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for stirring up hatred against her after German newspaper Welt am Sontag reported that he had called on the German government to shut down the mosque . . .

The mosque is housed in a section of a former Lutheran church and is open to Muslims of all traditions, including Sunni and Shiite, as well as LGBT Muslims and people of other religions or no faith. Ates, who is in training as an Imam, has led prayers at the mosque, taking a role traditionally reserved for men.

Colombia: Pride activists respond to religious resistance with embrace of secular state

With conservative religious groups having adopted the use of “gender ideology”—a term used by social conservatives globally to signal rejection of non-traditional views of gender, sexuality, and family—the organizers of this year’s Pride celebration in Bogotá chose as its theme, “Secular State, Free Beings.” According to Sentiido, “It is a way of remembering that Colombia’s Political Constitution respects and protects freedom of worship, but does not support that some religious and conservative leaders try to have the law sanction what is sin for them.” (Translation by Google.)

Church of England: Synod rejects conversion therapy; conservatives angered by invitation to Scottish bishop

The Church of England called for a legal ban on conversion therapy, which the synod called unethical and potentially harmful, reports the Guardian:

At the end of an emotional debate in which two members of the C of E synod described their experiences as spiritual abuse, the church’s governing body overwhelmingly backed a motion saying the practice had “no place in the modern world”.

Conversion therapy is usually described as an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Some churches in the C of E and other denominations have encouraged LGBT members to take part in prayer sessions and other activities to rid them of their “sin”.

Proposing the motion, Jayne Ozanne – who underwent conversion therapy resulting in two breakdowns and two spells in hospital – said conversion therapy was “abuse from which vulnerable adults need protecting”. …

Ed Cox, of the C of E’s youth council, struggled to maintain composure as he spoke of his personal experience of being told his sexual orientation was a lifestyle choice or phase and needed prayer.

“This fundamentally says I was made wrong,” he told the synod. As a result of what he described as spiritual abuse, he suffered severe depression.

John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, said conversion therapy was “theologically unsound, so the sooner the practice of [it] is banned, I can sleep at night”.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said LGBT orientation was neither a crime nor a sin. “We don’t need to engage people in healing therapy if they are not sick.” …

Some synod members expressed concern that the motion would limit the church’s ability to offer pastoral care and prayer for people struggling with issues of sexual desire and orientation.

There was controversy at the synod over the invitation to Bishop John Armes of Edinburgh, who had sponsored a motion approved by the Church of Scotland last month to allow same-sex couples to be married in the church. Some conservatives threatened to walk out. From Church Times:

A GROUP from among the General Synod’s laity and clergy have been placed in an “invidious” position, they say, by the “entirely wrong” invitation to the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Revd John Armes, to the Synod’s York meeting this weekend.

The group argues that it looks like an endorsement of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s recent agreement to change to its canons to allow same-sex marriage in church. …

In a letter in this Friday’s Church Times, Susie Leafe (Truro) and 14 other members of the Houses of Laity and Clergy write that they are having to consider whether to “follow our consciences and withdraw”.

Quoting the communiqué issued after the Primates’ Meeting in January last year, the Synod members write: “In 2016, the Primates of the Anglican Communion made it clear that, though they desired to walk together, the decision to permit same-sex marriages represented ‘a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces’ and ‘further impair(s) our communion and create(s) a deeper mistrust between us.

“‘This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.’

Tanzania: Government crackdown on LGBT activists and their supporters spreads fear

The Globe and Mail talked to LGBT activists about the widespread fear being felt since “a recent announcement by Tanania’s Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba that the government would be cracking down on queer rights activists and organizations.

Speaking at a rally in Dodoma on Sunday June 25, Nchemba said: “Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things. If we establish that any organisation registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights, I will deregister that organisation. If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country.”

Homosexuality carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment in Tanzania. Nchemba, however, has extended the country’s limitation on queer rights to organisations which campaigned for queer rights. …

In a speech delivered a few days prior to Nchemba’s statement, President John Magufuli said: “Those who teach such things do not like us, brothers. They brought us drugs and homosexual practices that even cows disapprove of,” he said.

Twenty-one national and international NGOs urged the government to end its threats toward civil society groups advocating for girls and LGBT people, echoing a call made by 25 Tanzanian organizations. More from Human Rights Watch:

Recent statements by government officials could have a chilling effect on the activities of affected organizations, the international groups said. On June 22, 2017, President John Magufuli stated, “As long as I’m president, no pregnant students will be allowed to return to school.” He said that young mothers could opt for vocational training or become entrepreneurs, but should not be permitted to pursue formal education in public schools. In the same speech, he made derogatory statements regarding same-sex relationships.

On June 25, Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba threatened to deregister organizations that challenged the president’s ban on schooling for pregnant girls and teen mothers, and to prosecute or deport anyone working to protect rights of LGBT people.

The government estimates that 30 out of every 100 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy in 2015. Many schools routinely force girls to undergo pregnancy tests and expel girls who are found to be pregnant, give birth, or get married, bringing an early end to their formal education.

Russia: Activists report return of anti-gay detentions in Chechnya

BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder and Jane Lytvynenko report that the activist group Russian LGBT Network says that the detention of LGBT people in Chechnya has resumed.

Panama: Attorney general affirms support for marriage equality

We noted last week that the country’s first lady had attended Pride celebrations and distributed a video of her participation on social media. This week, Attorney General Rigoberto González affirmed his support for marriage equality. Panamá América notes, “Last May, González asked the Supreme Court of Justice to “eliminate discriminatory practices” that prohibit marriage equality” in the country.

New Zealand: Government apologizes to men convicted under old sodomy law

The national government formally apologized to about 1000 men who were convicted for violating a legal ban on homosexual activity between 1961 and 1986. Legislation has also been introduced to expunge the convictions.

Puerto Rico: Governor creates LGBT advisory board

Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced the creation of an advisory board to promote and protect the rights of LGBT Puerto Ricans. According to the Associated Press, “He is a leader of a party known for being socially conservative.” Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States; in June, after statehood status was endorsed by 97 percent of those voting, Rossello demanded that the U.S. Congress grant the island statehood (the referendum was boycotted by opponents of statehood, with the result that fewer than a quarter of those eligible to vote did so.

Paraguay: Activists hope to introduce marriage bill in August

The organization Somosgay said it is working on marriage equality legislation that they will send to parliament in August.

Japan: TV commercials let LGBT people tell their stories

Tokai Television Broadcasting released a series of ads with people talking about their experiences of being LGBT in Japan.

Ukraine: Lesbian couple profiled on challenges of family and child-raising without legal recognition

The Kyiv Post profiled a lesbian couple who are raising two children; while they are open about their relationship with friends, family and co-workers, they asked not to have their photographs taken “out of fear for their children’s safety.” By law, they are not permitted to adopt each other’s biological children and the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships prevents them from sharing ownership of property or inheriting their partner’s property.