In This Week’s LGBT Recap: Are Gay Priests Overdue for a Stonewall Moment?

US religious right leader Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council, said he hoped that in a Trump administration supporters of LGBT equality will be “ferreted out” of the U.S. State Department. Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen wrote for Out about the potential impact of a Trump presidency on LGBT people around the world:

The fairy-tale story of irreversible progress in LGBT rights is a very white American story. Americans of color have long known that progress is not linear. LGBT people from countries like Russia, Hungary, and Turkey, among others, can tell you what it feels like when attitudes make a U-turn. The laws in these countries are benign, compared to the many places in the world where homosexual behavior is punishable by imprisonment or even death, but that is cold comfort for people who find themselves exposed to prosecution and persecution, without a closet to hide in. As the global culture war in this area heated up over the last few years, as Pride parades in various parts of the world turned into battlegrounds, LGBT people have looked to America for comfort, protection, and small doses of human dignity.

During the Obama years American international aid agencies began helping LGBT organizations. The amount use for this purpose is not huge by international-aid standards— about 7 million dollars a year—but for many foreign groups it is a lifeline. Not only is this funding likely to be cut, but there is the risk of renewed “faith-based” restrictions placed on aid to other groups, as was done during the George W. Bush years, to devastating effect. Then there was the help from individual American diplomats, who marched in contested Pride parades, offering very real protection simply by being there (the local police were then compelled to do their job and protect the marchers), or who invited LGBT activists to the Fourth of July party at the embassy, symbolically elevating them to the level of major political players among people who didn’t normally even view them as human. American diplomats have also been on the front lines of the culture war in the United Nations, where a slow, plodding bureaucratic battle for recognition of the rights and dignity of LGBT people has been waged.

But more than anything else, the United States has served as a beacon of hope for LGBT people around the world. When my kids heard homophobic slurs in school every day, when those same slurs and worse were on Russian television every night, I could tell my kids that this was not normal—the American way was. They knew that we could come here and be safe—and we did, as did so many of our friends. I think this was why my daughter cried so hard all night after the election.

At the United Nations, opponents of LGBT human rights recently lost a bid to halt the work of the new independent expert position created by the Human Rights Council to investigate violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But according to reports, anti-LGBT nations in Africa are planning to make another push in the General Assembly on Monday to indefinitely suspend the position’s mandate.  Hundreds of civil society organizations have signed a letter urging countries not to vote against the independent expert position. ISHR, the International Service for Human Rights, produced a video call to action to save the independent expert position.

Also at the UN, Russia blocked the Security Council from mentioning outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s advocacy for LGBT human rights in a statement on his nine years in office. UN AIDS profiled Nigeria’s Coalition of Lawyers for Human Rights

International Organization for the Family: More on New Global Anti-LGBT Group

American anti-gay activist Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families, launched a new anti-LGBT group, the International Organization for the Family, last weekend:

IOF says it “unites and equips leaders worldwide to promote the natural family.” Its first public project is a new global anti-LGBT manifesto dubbed the “Cape Town Declaration,” which the right-wing site Breitbart described as “throwing down the gauntlet to the LGBT lobby.” IOF is hoping to gather two million signatures in the coming year. Manifesto signers pledge “to resist the rising cultural imperialism of Western powers whose governments seek nothing less than the ideological colonization of the family.” It is certainly no coincidence that the manifesto includes “ideological colonization,” a phrase repeatedly employed by Pope Francis.

The declaration and its concluding vow – “Bowing to no earthly power, using every just measure, we shall not falter or flag until the truth about marriage is embraced in our laws and honored in our lands” – feels a lot like a global version of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, in which conservative evangelicals and Catholics pledged civil disobedience and vowed never to “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

That’s probably no coincidence either. Among the early signers of the Cape Town Declaration are conservative Catholic scholar Robert George, one of the Manhattan Declaration’s authors, and a George protégé, anti-equality activist Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.

Other signers from the U.S. include right-wing operative Richard Viguerie; NOM Chairman John EastmanLarry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families; anti-marriage-equality strategist Frank Schubert; C-Fam’s Austin Ruse, who is fomenting anti-LGBT backlash at the United Nations; Howard Center founder Allan CarlsonJanice Shaw Crouse, who led the 2015 World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City; and Movieguide’s Ted Baehr. Also among the initial signers are anti-equality activists from around the world; many of them, like Nigeria’s Theresa Okafor, have participated in World Congress of Families summits.

Also listed as signers are a number of religious leaders, including Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America; Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Ojo, Nigeria; Lawrence Khongy, pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore; and Josiah Trenham, an Orthodox priest who has spoken repeatedly at World Congress of Families gatherings.


Vatican: Commentary on gay priest ban; time for ‘Stonewall Moment’ for gay priests?

We reported last week on a letter from the Congregation for the Clergy which affirmed a ban on people with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from being admitted to seminary.

Lisa Fullam, professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, writes that what is being said about gay priests is not true.

What is needed is for gay priests to have a Stonewall moment. They need to speak up for themselves. Their colleagues, ordained and otherwise, need to stand with them. They need to come out of the closet, or nothing will change…

I’m sympathetic to people who feel uncomfortable talking publically about their own sexuality. It’s especially fraught, perhaps, when one is a celibate religious leader, and simply wants to get on with the business of building the Kingdom of God, and doesn’t want to become the topic of conversation. But unless gay priests decide that it’s time for their Stonewall moment, Church leaders–some of them closeted, sometimes self-loathing, homosexually-oriented men themselves–will continue to utter the slander that affects not just ordained gay men and seminarians, but every LGBTQ person in the Church.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, writing in the Crux, says that the question is whether “by God’s grace, they have learned to integrate their feelings and have grown into a mature love for God and others which transcends erotic attachment.” More:

This is not to say that all homosexual men are sex-crazed perverts. Neither is it to assert that every homosexual is sexually attracted to every man, nor is he repulsed by all women.

It is simply to observe that a homosexual’s masculinity is incorrect and therefore his masculine-feminine relationships must also therefore, by definition, be distorted.

Does this mean that all homosexual men are freaks and must be barred from priesthood? I don’t think so. The question is whether this attraction is “deep-seated.” Without doubt there are many seminarians and priests who experience same sex attraction.

After saying that some priests see their homosexuality as a “paradoxical gift” that allows them to look beyond conventional sexual expressions to a love for God and others that transcends mere physical instincts,” Longenecker writes:

The key to the successful integration is for the Catholic homosexual to accept his tendencies as “intrinsically disordered.” Only as he understands his attractions as inconsistent with the natural order of human sexuality will he be able to integrate them successfully and move beyond them.

The document on priestly formation does not exclude this kind of mature integration, and only excludes those who, because of the deep seated nature of their condition will not or cannot accept the self discipline, formation and conversion of life that is necessary for such integration to take place.

Russia: AP examines Orthodox Church partnership with Putin

 Associated Press’s Nataliya Vasilyeva examines the close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and strongman president Vladimir Putin, who “appears eager to harness that resurgent power of faith to promote his own agenda.” According to the story, “Russia’s parliament, the Duma, is helping the Kremlin suppress voices that challenge the rise of social conservatism.”

More excerpts:

Analysts say Putin sees an alliance with church interests as a way to bolster nationalism with belief. They say the approach seeks simultaneously to fill the ideological void left by the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and to block any inroads by Western liberalism…

Putin in 2013 signed two bills making so-called “gay propaganda” and actions that “insult religious feelings” both crimes. A crackdown on gay rights protests and online support groups has followed.

One of the country’s highest profile activists, Yelena Klimova, has been charged three times with violating the law as authorities seek to block her website, Children-404, where gay teens are encouraged to discuss their experiences of homophobia.

The site still can be accessed outside Russia, but inside the country the site displays an October closure order.

Xenia Loutchenko, a Moscow commentator who writes on church affairs, says Putin and an inner Orthodox circle are driving the air of social retrenchment, not any grass-roots desire for a sterner, more judgmental Russia.

“There is a demand for an ideology, and they’re beginning to build one,” she said. “I don’t think it reflects in any way what the society wants. More likely it reflects the ideological sentiment higher up.”

The story also examines the way that the government and religious conservatives have joined forces to put increasing pressure on artists and entertainers, including a Siberian city’s ban on a planned performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Malawi: Catholics and Evangelicals join forces to oppose decriminalization

At the press conference announcing the formation of the International Organization for the Family, a pastor from Malawi denounced “cultural imperialism” and made reference to marches carried out earlier this month in all 28 of the country’s districts. Thousands of Catholics and evangelical Christians participated in “Citizens’ March for Life and Family” events in opposition to the government giving consideration to legalizing abortion and decriminalizing homosexuality, which is now punishable by up to 14 years in prison. From The Tablet, a Catholic weekly:

The march, which took place on December 5, is a public celebration, defence and reaffirmation of truths about life and family as are enshrined in the country’s laws and value system, in a statement issued by the permanent institution of the Bishops of Malawi, The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), and the Evangelical Association of Malawi, co-organisers of the march.

“Citizens’ March for Life and Family is an open call to all Malawians to love their country by standing up for what is morally right today in the face of the hugely funded campaign for the ‘killing of unborn children’ (abortion) and legalisation of homosexuality which are a direct attack on life and family respectively,” continued the statement.

Back in March of this year, the country’s Catholic bishops sent a letter to parishioners attacking the government for putting a moratorium on prosecutions of people under anti-gay laws, a step they called “an act of betrayal on the part of those in power to sell our country to foreign practices and tendencies contrary to the will of God because of money.”

Indonesia: Incidents of ‘brazen homophobia’ on rise as conservatives seek to tighten sex laws

Human Rights Watch reports on efforts by lawmakers to pass new legislation making sex outside marriage punishable by up to five years in jail; they also hope to criminalize same-sex conduct in a long-term effort to update the criminal code which dates to the colonial era:

 These efforts to crack down on personal decisions about sex and family planning would, if they became law, violate rights to privacy, autonomy, and health that are protected under international law that Indonesia has committed to uphold. They come on the heels of an increasing clampdown on the rights of LGBT people.

Indonesia’s lawmakers should spend less time trying to control other peoples’ sex lives and reproduction. Instead, they should focus on the crucial work necessary to develop a new criminal code that can help ensure all Indonesians have access to justice.

Voice of America reported that incidents of “brazen homphobia” are on the rise.

LDS Church: Report on plans for a ‘Mormon WikiLeaks’

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on Ryan McKnight, a former Mormon planned to launch a website “where anonymous tipsters – including those who work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – can post purloined papers by and about the Utah-based faith’s programs, policies and policymakers.” From the story:

McKnight burst onto the scene in October, during the church’s fall General Conference, when he facilitated the posting of 15 videos showing Mormon apostles privately discussing topics ranging from gay rights to politics to piracy to, as he said, simply offer “a peek behind the curtain” of the faith’s burgeoning bureaucracy.

The videos, whose veracity the church did not dispute, went national. McKnight said he was inundated with queries from insiders wanting to make private Mormon information public, but needing assurances of anonymity, given the potential to be fired from LDS Church employment.

That’s when McKnight, serving as a publisher, not the source of internal LDS documents, began to feel an urgency about providing a means whereby disgruntled or disillusioned members could post their work without fear of discovery.

European Union: Report on fundamental rights adopted

On Tuesday the European Parliament adopted a report on fundamental rights in the EU. The Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights reports (citations removed):

The report calls for action in the field of homophobic and transphobic hate crime; non-discrimination; free movement between Member States, including for same-sex couples and their children; and access to employment, goods and services…

It stresses that transgender people must not be considered mentally ill, and encourages the Commission to continue its work in the World Health Organisation to ensure that the upcoming International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will no longer consider trans people mentally ill.

Jamaica: J-FLAG celebrates 18 years of activism

J-FLAG celebrated 18 years of standing up for LGBT people. From Executive Director Dan Lewis:

Although there continue to be incidents of violence and harassment against the LGBTQ population, we have seen the slow shift toward tolerance and respect for the population as is the sentiment expressed in many of our sensitization sessions and greater appreciation within the community of our rights and responsibilities. At the age of 18, J-FLAG and the Jamaican society at large have both matured. J-FLAG’s advocacy has become more inclusive and diverse and the Jamaican society’s attitudes have slowly matured to one of greater tolerance.

Brazil: Profile of LGBTs seeking refuge from anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions

Reuters’ Nacho Doce reports on LGBT squatters who have taken over an abandoned government building and have turned it into a refuge from discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people.”

Some Evangelical pastors, who are becoming increasingly popular in Brazil, have adopted overtly homophobic rhetoric.

Luciana Jesus Silva, a bisexual woman and organizer of the occupation, asked the FLM to offer space to LGBT people after she learned that one of her gay friends had been hospitalized after a hate attack only to have his mother throw him out of the house, saying he was the work of the devil.

Rio’s annual LGBT pride parade took place.

Pakistan: Provincial assembly supports voting rights for trans women.

Human Rights Watch reports: “The provincial assembly in a northwestern province of Pakistan this week unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to ensure voting rights for transgender women.”

Israel: Government moves to equalize immigration treatment of same-sex partners

This month Israel’s attorney general announced that the process for naturalizing foreign same-sex partners will be the same s for people with heterosexual partners; previously it took several years longer for same-sex couples. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Israeli Gay Fathers Association.

Ireland: First LGBT center in West of Ireland opens

The first LGBT center in western Ireland has opened in Galway.

Gibraltar: First same-sex couple marries

Aaron Mills and Adrian Charles Triay-Dignam became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory located off the southern tip of Spain.

United Kingdom: Former Tory leader opposes ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools

Lord Norman Tebbit, a former Conservative Party chair, spoke out against “promotion” of homosexuality in the schools, saying “I think it is damaging to children to introduce uncertainty into their minds.”

Kenya: Activist profiled

The Star’s Lydia Matata wrotes about gender non-conforming activist Joji Baro.

China: Most LGBT people fear being out to healthcare provider

A report says that 61 percent of LGBT people feared  being treated differently by their healthcare provider for being LGBT.