Last Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn remaining state laws banning same-sex couples from getting married generated apocalyptic responses from America’s Religious Right and their allies at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. LGBT rights advocates hope that the decision, coming in the wake of Ireland’s referendum, will add momentum to the equality movement globally, where homosexual activity is still illegal in dozens of countries.
The Washington Blade reports that U.S. diplomats participated in many pride celebrations in the wake of the Court ruling. The ruling provoked response from both supporters and opponents. More from the Blade’s reporting:
“It’s a momentous and important decision, and the United States joins a small but growing number of countries in the Americas — north, central and south—recognizing marriage equality,” Tracy Robinson, a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which operates through the Washington-based Organization of American States, told the Washington Blade after the justices announced their decision. “Though I should also add that for thousands of LGBT persons throughout the Americas poverty, violence and access to justice, health care, shelter and decent work remain urgent and often still not sufficiently visible human rights concerns.”
In Peru, where American religious conservatives like Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver have urged officials to resist moves toward LGBT equality, the Catholic Church slammed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling:
Lima Archbishop Juan Luís Cipriani on Saturday described the ruling as “tragic” and an example of “imperialism” and “colonialism.”
“This decision, to me is really tragic for the U.S.,” he said on RPP Noticias, a Peruvian television station. “The most serious thing about it to me is that it promotes a new structure, after centuries, that can only destroy what God wanted and what has worked normally.”
From Russia, where Vladimir Putin has made anti-gay policies part of his government’s posturing as the defenders of Christian civilization against western secularism, both government and church officials responded harshly. According to a June 29 story from Interfax:
The Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to all Russian advocates of the American model of governance, asking them to think twice about the consequences of the United States’ decision to legalize same-sex “marriages”.
“The people who are into ‘democracy the American way’ and trying to reconcile it with traditional values need to think hard after this decision,” the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion.
He pointed out to the kind of values that one is “trying to bring along with the U.S. social and political model.”
“You might not be told that they want to force you to adopt such a godless and sinful thing as same-sex marriages. Remember: in reality they want to take your right to live according to the faith, take your soul, take your opportunity to build the life of your society and your state according to the eternal and invariable God-given moral laws,” the priest said.
He said the thing he was most concerned about in this particular case is that the U.S. government is trying “to impose its anti-natural and post-human view on marriage on other countries….”
“Marriage is a constant created by God and laid down in the human nature. And as the Orthodox commentator Sergey Khudiyev rightly put it, trying to change it with a legal decision is the same as trying to change the laws of nature with such a decision,” the priest said.
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg politician Vitaly Milonov, sponsor of anti-gay “propaganda” legislation, called for Facebook to be banned in Russia to prevent youth under the age of 18 from being subject to the “homosexual propaganda” of equality supporters’ using rainbow-colored stripes over their profile pictures. According to the Telegraph, “Milonov’s words drew disdain from activists, and a picture of Milonov superimposed against the rainbow flag was making the rounds on social media.”
In Jamaica, another country where American evangelicals have worked to oppose moves toward equality, and resisted efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, anti-gay religious leaders opposed the ruling, but the country’s largest newspaper praised it as courageous and urged lawmakers to address discrimination against LGBT discrimination as a human rights issue.
The Daily Beast looked at a range of reactions from Muslims. On the day of the Court ruling, the self-declared Islamic State released a video showing four men being thrown off a roof to their deaths. The Mirror reports that some ISIS supporters “celebrated” the killings on twitter by sarcastically hijacking the hashtage #LoveWins.
Reuters reports on reactions from Africa:
In the streets, churches and corridors of power, from Uganda in the east to Zimbabwe in the south and Nigeria and Liberia in the west, the chorus of homophobic disapproval at the landmark U.S. decision rang out loud and clear.
For many African leaders, whipping up anti-gay sentiment wins popular approval, even when it puts them at odds with the views of Western donors and, according to the World Health Organization, hinders the global fight against AIDS….
Reuters’ Macdonald Dzirutwe reports, “some African gay rights activists are hoping Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, beginning on July 25, will help boost their cause.” But some believe the ruling could strengthen opposition to U.S. policy.
Medard Bitekyerezo, a Ugandan politician leading the push for tough anti-gay laws, said events in the United States would “invoke more disgust” in the east African country and make domestic legislation against homosexuality more pressing.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s declaration shows the West has become totally disoriented and descended into a Sodom and Gomorrah society,” he said, referring to the biblical cities destroyed by God as punishment for their depravity.
“But that’s their business – they can’t impose it on us.”
Mozambique: Homosexuality decriminalized
The BBC reports on the country’s new penal code, which drops the colonial-era law on “vices against nature,” making Mozambique “one of the few African countries where same-sex relationships are legal.” Analysis from BBC’s Milton Nkosi:
Mozambique’s move to decriminalise homosexuality looks in step with recent changes elsewhere, such as Ireland and the US.
But Mozambique is also following the likes of neighbouring South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and others, where it is not a crime to be gay.
It adds to a mixed picture on the continent as the tightening of laws against homosexuality in some countries shows what a contentious subject gay rights is.
For Mozambique itself, this is a breakthrough but a small one.
The country inherited the penal code from the colonial power, Portugal.
But following independence Mozambique never blindly followed the conservative laws of old Europe.
The change then is a small step forward for Africa’s lesbian and gay community.
But in many places, whether homosexuality is legal or not, the real question is about ordinary people’s attitudes to gay people, which can still be hostile.
Australia: Catholic Church, Prime Minister resist pressure for marriage vote
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch opponent of marriage equality, has been blocking a vote and has refused to allow his fellow party members to vote their conscience. But this week two Liberal Party MPs revealed that they will be co-sponsoring a marriage bill and attempting to force a conscience vote in August. Abbott, however, made it clear that he would continue to resist the move. Reports BuzzFeed’s Mark Di Stefano:
Labor backbenchers Terri Butler and Laurie Ferguson will join independents Cathy McGowan and Andrew Wilkie, and Greens MP Adam Bandt as co-sponsors of the marriage equality bill….
The head of the Australian Christian Lobby used the news to call on its members to lobby Liberal MPs.
Meanwhile marriage equality advocates were over the moon, calling it the “strongest opportunity we’ve ever had” to pass legislation.
“Because this bill will be signed by two Liberals… (and) because it has cross-party support it has the best chance of passing,” said Rodney Croome from Australian Marriage Equality.
“With momentum growing after marriage equality in Ireland and the US, this bill gives Australia the strongest opportunity we have ever had of achieving marriage equality.”
The Catholic Church is pulling out all the stops to try to prevent marriage equality. We previously reported on letters sent home with school children. The Archdiocese of Sydney has also begun to send letters to the growing roster of businesses publicly backing marriage equality. From one of the letters:
“It is… with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign,” it reads.
“You are publically supporting a strategic, political and well-funded campaign designed to pressure the Federal Government into changing the Marriage Act.
“For corporations to speak on such issues… is indeed overstepping their purpose and it is to be strongly resisted.”…
“You may be aware that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” it reads.
Turkey: Police violently disperse pride parade, banned with Ramadan as excuse
Police in Istanbul used tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons against Pride Parade participants on June 28.
The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee, a group that organized the series of events during the 23rd Pride Week, said the 13rd Istanbul LGBTi Pride Parade, which was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on June 28 at Taksim Square, had “suddenly been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office using the month of Ramadan as the reason without any announcement.”
Police attacked people with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon, the committee said in a press briefing at around 5:30 p.m. on June 28, adding that all entries to and exits from the Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue had been shut down.
The first LGBTI Pride Parade in Turkey was held in 2003 with only 30 people at-tending the event. This number increased to around 5,000 attendants in 2010 and rose to more than 10,000 in 2011.
The Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers notes, “This year’s Pride took place less than a month after President Recept Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party lost its majority in the Turkish Parliament.The Peoples’ Democratic Party, which supports LGBT rights in the predominantly Muslim country, gained 80 seats in Parliament. Twenty-two candidates who signed a pledge to support rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Turks also won their respective races.
According to the AFP news agency, police took action against the crowd when demonstrators began shouting slogans accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “fascism”.
No official comment has so far been issued by the government, but there were reports that the parade was stopped as it was Ramadan.
However, Karajan said the parade, which has been held over the past 13 years without police intervention, occured peacefully during Ramadan last year.
The website LGBT Muslims has additional information and photos from Istanbul, including photos and comments from religious Muslims and family members who supported the marchers and blamed the violence on the local governor’s anger at political losses by his party in this year’s elections:
South Korea: Anti-Gay Christians fail to block pride parade
Anti-gay Christian groups tried and failed shut down the pride parade in Seoul, which comes at the end of a three-week celebration of queer culture. We previously reported that the police had refused a permit for the pride parade, citing the application of the anti-gay groups for competing permits:
Christian groups have been running a campaign for weeks to try to block the parade. In May, they camped out for a week in front of the police station where parade organizers had to apply for a permit and filed a competing request to hold an event in the same place. Police initially responded by canceling the parade citing the conflicting permit applications, but a court ruled on June 17 that the parade had to be allowed.
The Seoul police deployed thousands of officers to keep order between the queer festival — which began in a large grassy plaza in front of city hall — and eight counter protests that entirely surrounded the area. Here’s what happened.
The largest of the the counter-protests was organized by a coalition including some of Korea’s largest Christian church associations, which joined together as the Korean Churches Anti-LGBT Response Committee.
The group held a worship service across the street from the Queer Festival, blasting hymns, prayers, and sermons so loudly that at times it overwhelmed the festival’s sound system. The organizers had predicted that 30,000 people would participate in the service, but the actual number appeared to number around 2,000.
“Our prayers will open the sky and the homosexuals will fall, we will be blessed with victory,” said Lee Young-hoon, head of the leading organization in the anti-LGBT coalition.
Mexico: Supreme Court embraces marriage, Church and some political officials resist
As we have been reporting, the marriage equality movement has been movement forward in a long tug-of-war between the country’s federal courts and state officials, some of whom have resisted efforts to embrace equality legislatively. This month Mexico’s top court issued a ruling that should push states toward compliance. From a July 1 Reuters story:
Now that Mexico’s top court has given the green light to gay marriage, a host of states should bring their laws into line, a Supreme Court justice said.
The court ruled in a decision published on June 19 that laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional.
The decision, based on five separate rulings, means gay couples may marry by court injunction in states which have not legalized same-sex unions. Until state legislatures change their statutes, however, the couples must still petition courts case by case.
For states to persist in this makes little sense, Supreme Court Judge Olga Sanchez said in an interview on Tuesday.
“What’s the point in having invalid norms? You should just change your legislation,” Sanchez said.
In all but two of Mexico’s 31 states, gay marriage is still banned under local laws.
Sanchez told Reuters that some state legislatures could continue to resist, but said that judges would continue to give injunctions – known as amparos – that allow couples to wed.
In Acapulco, Mayor Luis Uruñuela continues to resist marriage equality, and has objected to plans by the head of the Civil Registry of the state of Guerrero for a free mass wedding they are planning to hold in Acapulco on July 10. The head of the registry Inés María Huerta Pegueros has acknowledged continued resistance but said it will not prevent marriages from going vorward in the state, saying “as always the Church and conservative groups that are against progress in this regard, but it is a fact and there is no turning back.”
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, slammed the moves toward marriage equality. “Marriage is a man and a woman,” he said. “Anything more is something deviant.” He implied the state Supreme Court judges are being bribed by agents of a new world order:
Russia, China and the Arab world have now escaped from their hands. They don’t dominate them, but in Western countries they want to establish a single government and they want to use it to destroy the family, the Catholic Church, which are in their way, as well as the true national governments. And one of the means for destroying the family is to pervert the concept itself of the family, to speak of matrimony as a union of people, so that the definition applies to any bond or union. It’s very lamentable, very sad.
In response to his comments, a coalition of gay-rights organizations has reportedly filed complaints charging that the cardinal’s comments are discriminatory and could incite violence.
Sandoval is looking toward the upcoming Synod on the Family to make a clear restatement of Catholic doctrine:
“The position of the Synod of the pope,” he states, “cannot be any other than what is fixed in the pages of Sacred Scripture: God made them man and woman, and commanded that they unite … so that they may be fertile. Whatever departs from this divine institution is an attack against it and is an aberration, and it can never fit into the mind of a Catholic, of a Christian.”
Northern Ireland: Couples in civil partnerships sue for marriage
In Northern Ireland, the last jurisdiction in the United Kingdom that does not grant marriage equality to same-sex couples, the first two couples to enter into UK civil partnerships ten years ago have filed suit against the marriage ban.