Pride celebrations continued this weekend, with major events in San Francisco, New York, and London, where two police officers were engaged, generating both support and religious denunciations. In New York, one of the grand marshals for the pride march was Subhi Nahas, a “gay Syrian refugee who’s faced threats from both ISIS and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” reports the New York Post.
In America, a magazine published by Jesuits in the US, James Martin, SJ, offers a “meditation for LGBT Catholics” in which he encouraged those “who feel excluded from the church” to remember “that you have as much place in the church as the pope does, of your local bishop does—or I do.”
The International Day for the Victims of Torture falls on June 26; a group of human rights experts at the UN released a statement urging countries to prevent the abuse and torture that LGBT people experience in prison and other detention facilities.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the Journal of Human Rights special 2014 issue on local resistance to LGBT rights is being made available by its publisher free of charge for the next several weeks.
Middle East: Twitter trolls reporting ‘atheist’ and LGBT girls and women to authorities
The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins reports, “A band of Twitter trolls alleging to be from the Middle East spent Sunday and Monday repeatedly reporting ‘atheist’ and pro-LGBT girls and women to the local authorities in places where blasphemy laws allow for punishments as severe as death.” One of the trolls reporting LGBTQ and former Muslims defended his efforts, saying “They live in our safety and eat from our God given bounties, but when they disrespect our faith you think they deserve mercy or forgiveness?” Collins reports that previous attempts to get Twitter to ban users who are doxing young women have “fallen on deaf ears.”
Indonesia: Activist says official backtracking on commitment to abolish abusive Sharia rules
Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, reports that “Indonesia’s Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo backtracked on a pronounced commitment to abolish abusive Sharia regulations in the country.” More from Kine’s dispatch:
Kumolo said last week that the government chose to ignore discriminatory Sharia or Islamic law-based local regulations while cancelling 3,143 other “problematic regional regulations” for violating the country’s credo of “unity in diversity.” Kumolo wasunapologetic. “[Bylaw cancellation] is about investments,” he said. “We do not interfere with regulations based on Islamic Sharia.”
That’s bad news for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, who are discriminated against under the Sharia regulations imposed by the Aceh provincial government in northwestern Indonesia. Aceh is the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia…
On September 27, 2014, Aceh’s provincial parliament approved bylaws that extend Sharia to non-Muslims, criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). The criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sexual acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes. The criminal code also allows Islamic courts to dismiss charges against rape suspects who take an Islamic oath, sumpah dilaknat Allah, asserting their innocence – so long as the court determines there’s a lack of incriminating “other evidence.”
Within days of Aceh’s bylaws coming into force, special Sharia police arrested two “suspected lesbians” – women aged 18 and 19 – who were spotted hugging in public. Police detained the women for four days, and released them into a government-run, week-long religious “rehabilitation” center.
Kumolo needs to recognize that cancelling laws that discriminate against women and LGBT people should be a greater priority than regulations “about investments.” Until the Indonesian government revokes discriminatory Sharia bylaws in Aceh, women and LGBT people will remain vulnerable to violations of their basic rights and freedoms.
Kenya: Anglican priest joins legal challenge to discriminatory laws
Fredrick Nzwili reported for Religion News Service that Rev. Mark Odhiambo, an Anglican priest, earlier this month joined a legal challenge by two gay men and two lesbians to discriminatory laws in the country.
“I serve in the city and I have seen many of them facing serious challenges because their sexual orientation does not conform to that of the general society,” said Odhiambo. “They are subjected to all sorts of violence, both physical and sexual.”
Odhiambo, a married father of four, said increasingly gays are seeking acceptance in the society.
It is not clear whether his job is at risk, but his action has ignited the ire of bishops, who reiterate that the Anglican Church in Kenya does not condone homosexuality.
In September, the Mount Kenya West Anglican diocese revoked licenses and suspended five priests over allegations that they were gay. They have since gone to court to challenge the suspension.
Dominican Republic: Bishop slams OAS for undermining Christian tradition with ‘gender ideology’
New Ways Ministry points to an interview in Crux earlier this month with Bishop Víctor Masalles, who has been critical of openly gay ambassador from the U.S. and who has criticized the Organization for American States. Masalles says he supports OAS goals on sustainable development, but says the OAS should be strengthening “the Western Christian humanist tradition,” not seeking to “undermine” it by imposing “gender ideology”
Bermuda: Voters reject marriage, civil unions for same-sex couples
In a Thursday referendum, voters rejected by large margins two questions that were put before them: whether they support civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples. About 68 percent voted no to marriage and 63 percent voted no to civil unions, though technically the government will consider the questions “unanswered” since voter turnout was below 50 percent.
OUTBermuda said they hoped the results would galvanize supporters of marriage equlity the way California’s Prop 8 galvanized equality supporters. A group that urged no votes on the referendums, Preserve Marriage, said the group will stay in business, mobilizing churches to continue “addressing the community’s social and religious needs.”
United Kingdom: LGBT Activists Mull Impact of Brexit Vote
British voters have called for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, which could undermine EU-backed legal protections for LGBT people in the UK and have an adverse effect on LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. Writes BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder:
A united EU voice has helped activists turn back anti-LGBT initiatives in countries on the European continent and beyond with the argument that they violate commitments under international human rights agreements. Now, with the UK voting to leave, they believe it has sent the signal that countries can walk away from multinational agreements when they no longer likes the rules.
Given how important European institutions have been in promoting LGBT rights both in the region and worldwide, “anything that puts a hold on European progress causes concern about advancement for rights for LGBT people, especially in countries that are lagging behind,” said Brian Sheehan, a leader of the successful Irish marriage equality campaign who now co-chairs the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
ILGA-Europe said anything that limits the shared work of the UK and EU in advancing LGBTI equality is a concern, and called for “more solidarity, not less” in the wake of the vote.
The European Union has been a strong advocate for LGBT human rights; but the Intergroup of LGBT Rights warned this week that the inclusion of language about respecting countries’ “national identities and constitutional traditions” in a recent Council document about protecting LGBTI people could be a “Trojan horse” for those who have resisted protecting the rights of LGBTI people.
London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan is backing a campaign to save the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a “legendary gay venue” from developers.
Turkey: Pride celebrations cancelled under threat from Islamists
Organizers of Istanbul’s pride parade, scheduled for Sunday, June 26, called it off after local officials banned it in the face of threats from Islamist hard-liners. When a German Member of the European Parliament joined a group of activists attempting to read a statement to reports on Sunday, police detained her and others.
Police reportedly arrested three men on Friday June 15 in connection with a threat that ISIS was planning an attack on a Transgender Pride March that Sunday. The police cited security concerns in issuing a ban on the gathering, and police dispersed a group that did gather with tear gass and rubber bullets.
Nigeria: Commentary by Anglican on ‘storm’ brewing in Communion
Gay Star News published a commentary by Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay Nigerian Anglican living in the U.K. who finds himself “directly in the path” of the storm brewing over sexuality in the Anglican Communions.
Italy: Court makes adoption easier for same-sex partner; Catholic school found guilty of discrimination
The country’s highest court “has made it easier for gays to adopt a partner’s biological child,” reports ABC News, “but the decision does not give long-sought automatic recognition to the families of same-sex couples.” Intense opposition from the Catholic Church and other opponents of adoption by same-sex couples had resulted in adoption rights being stripped from recently passed civil unions legislation.
In other news, the Rovereto labor court ruled that a Catholic school in Trento discriminated against a teacher whose contract was not renewed after she refused to discuss her sexual orientation when the mother superior asked about rumors that she was living with another woman.
Mexico: Marriage equality reaching another state
On Monday, Morelos will become the tenth of Mexico’s 31 states with legal marriage equality; couples in other states are able to marry after going through the process of getting a legal injunction called an amparo. Journalist Rex Wockner tracks the complex march of marriage equality through Mexico’s legal and political system. Mexico City’s pride celebration on Saturday reportedly drew 100,000 people.
Australia: Marchers push for marriage equality legislation
In advance of July 2 national elections, marriage equality rallies were held across the country on Saturday, with marchers “calling on whichever party wins a July 2 national election to quickly introduce same-sex marriage laws,” reports Reuters. Current Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has promised a public referendum on marriage equality before the end of the year; LGBT advocates and the Labor Party want parliament to vote on a marriage equality bill. They say the referendum makes no sense as it would be expensive, non-binding, and would engender an ugly public debate on homosexuality. Polls show strong majority support for marriage equality and opposition to the plebescite. The Catholic Church has been vocal in opposition.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news that marriage equality opponents in the governing coalition were scheming to set up voting rules that would make it easier to marriage opponents to win in Parliament even if there is a public vote in favor of marriage equality.
Islam: Essay examines interpretations of homosexuality
Christopher van der Krogt, lecturer in history and religious studies at Massey University, published an essay on varying aspects and interpretations of Muslim teachings on homosexuality. He notes that some Muslim scholars, while believing that homosexual acts are forbidden, also believe that Muslims should oppose discrimination against any minority group and accept laws that permit same-sex couples to get married.
Northern Ireland: Minister asks officials to prepare for marriage equality
Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has reportedly asked officials “do the groundwork” to prepare for marriage equality legislation that he believes could be passed in this assembly term.
Israel: Pride killer sentenced
The man convicted in April of killing a teenager at last year’s pride celebrations in Jerusalem has been sentenced to life in prison plus 31 years. The convicted murderer, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, had only weeks before the killing been released from prison after a ten-year sentence for stabbing three people during a pride march in 2005.
Moldova: Human rights activists fight proposed propaganda law
Human Rights Watch released a letter to legislators urging them to reject a proposed anti-gay “propaganda” law that would target “assemblies, mass media, Internet, brochures, booklets, images, audio-video clips, films and/or audio-video recordings, via sound recording, amplifiers or other means of sound amplification.”