LGBT Activists Challenge Church Anti-Marriage Efforts; Gov’t in Belize Creates Church-State ‘Public Morality’ Commission; Opponents Seek To Stop Finland’s Marriage Equality Law Before It Takes Effect; Global LGBT Recap

US Senator & VP candidate says Catholic Church could change on marriage

US Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic, spoke on Saturday at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner, at which he said he thought the Church might change its mind on same-sex couples marrying the way he had changed his own mind on the issue. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reports that Kaine recounted that “as a result of his Catholic faith, he had a ‘difficult time with the idea of same-sex marriage,” but that changed during debate over an anti-marriage constitutional amendment campaign, which passed with 57 percent of the vote over his opposition. More from the Associated Press:

“I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, ‘It is very good,'” Kaine said. He then recalled Pope Francis’ remark that “who am I to judge?” in reference to gay priests.

“I want to add: Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family? I think we’re supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it,” Kaine said.

Mexico: Marriage opponents march; LGBT activists file complaints against Church

The National Front for the Family organized anti-marriage equality marches around the country on Saturday, in some cases led or joined by Catholic bishops and priests. Marriage opponents are also planning to converge on Mexico City later this month.

On Sunday, pro-equality activists marched in response in Puebla and Mexico City, where they marched on the cathedral, demanding support for a secular state. Other activists have filed complaints against church officials for violating the law that regulates religious organizations. A recent poll that showed Mexicans split on marriage equality also showed strong opposition to religious groups intervening in the marriage question.

A national gay-rights group announced that it will launch a petition urging Pope Francis to dismiss Carinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, who activists accuse of “promoting hatred” against LGBT people. Other activists

Belize: Government will challenge anti-sodomy-law ruling, create ‘public morality’ commission

In the aftermath of a recent ruling by the country’s Chief Justice against the sodomy law, the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow has agreed to set up a “church state commission on public morality” that will consider “how to protect family values in an inclusive society.” The government also announced that it will appeal the Chief Justice’s interpretation that a constitutional ban on sex discrimination includes sexual orientation. Activist Caleb Orozco, who spearheaded the legal challenge to the sodomy law, called on the government to include members of his organization on the commission.

Finland: Opponents seek to stop marriage equality law before it goes into effect

More than 100,000 people have signed a citizens’ initiative opposing marriage equality, asking parliament to reconsider the new marriage equality law, which is scheduled to go into effect in March 2017. More from YLE:

The citizens’ initiative is unique in that it seeks to negate a law change that itself began with a citizens’ initiative. The composition of Parliament has changed since the first initiative was approved, but this does not mean that the push to repeal the earlier decision will be successful, the paper writes. As a candidate, Centre Party prime minister Juha Sipilä said before the 2015 parliamentary elections that the elected government would comply with previous Parliament’s intent.

The ink had barely dried on the parliamentary decision when two citizens, Jukka-Pekka Rahkonen and Pasi Turunen, started a counter-initiative and founded the Aito avioliitto (Genuine Matrimony) association. The group seeks to undo the gender-neutral Marriage Act and keep legal marriage exclusively between a man and woman in Finland. The movement’s main justification is children’s right to both a mother and father. They also argue that procreation is dependent on both sexes and that “men and women complement each other”.

From the Helsinki Times:

Hanna Sarkkinen (Left Alliance) reminded that everyone should be treated equally under the law and pointed out that the legislative amendment will have no effect whatsoever on the lives of those who oppose it. The amendment, she added, has not even had an impact on the practices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

The Bishops’ Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church ruled at the end of last month that irrespective of the upcoming amendment its pastors should not officiate the weddings of same-sex couples.

Norway: King makes news with speech about tolerance

Earlier this month King Harald made a speech about tolerance that has gone viral. From The Local:

Speaking to some 1,500 guests at a garden party outside the Royal Palace, King Harald delivered a message of tolerance that has struck a nerve amongst Norwegians who have witnessed intense debates about immigration in their country.

The king stressed that modern Norway is a place for everyone, regardless of where they come from, their religious beliefs, sexual preferences or even their musical tastes.

“Norwegians come from the north of the country, from the middle, from the south and all the other regions. Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria,” the king said.

“Norwegians are girls who love girls. Boys who love boys. And boys and girls who love each other,” King Harald said.

“Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing,” he added.

Indonesia: Government investigating Grindr and similar apps

In the latest step in 2016’s wave of anti-LGBT rhetoric and action by religious and political leaders, the Communications Ministry announced that they would investigate Grindr and 17 other gay social networking apps. The police charge that the apps were being used to run a prostitution ring with underaged boys. The head of one of the country’s largest Muslim organizations has urged the Ministry of Communications to ban Grindr and “other sites that potentially destroy moral society.”

Aruba: Civil Union bill passes over religious groups’ objections

Legislators passed a civil union bill that will allow registered couples to receive the same legal protections offered to married couples. More from AP:

Aruba is one of the constituent countries that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Same-sex couples previously could marry in the Netherlands and return to have their marriage certificate recognized under a law obligating recognition of official documents throughout the kingdom.

Desiree de Sousa Croes, the member of Parliament who introduced the legislation, was among those who married in the Netherlands and returned to have the certificate recognized in Aruba, where many people oppose same-sex unions on religious and cultural grounds.

“I would have wanted same-sex marriage,” Croes said after the vote. “But this amendment will eliminate the need to travel to the Netherlands to marry, as our laws will soon provide rights for same sex couples.”

Aruba has been under pressure in recent years from LGBT rights advocates to allow same-sex marriage but religious groups have opposed the effort. The opposition also fought civil unions as the bill came to a vote.

Mongolia: ‘From phobia to hope’

Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel writes for GoGo Mongolia/Asia News Network on “From phobia to hope: On LGBT rights in Mongolia,” describing the country’s evolution to a “somewhat better” situation since activists began to speak out in the 1990s. The author writes that “One Day in Mongolia,” a famous painting by B. Sharav (1869- 1939), includes a depiction of two men having sex, and quotes a journalist concluding that “this could well be an answer to those who view that same-sex relations were imported form the West along with democracy.” More, via the China Post:

In line with the Mongolian saying “look into your own chest of drawers, instead of looking for something from other households,” it is clear that we need to study what kind of local practices and habits we had in terms of sexual minorities in our social and cultural frameworks. As the masterpiece “One Day in Mongolia” reflected the ordinary lives of Mongolians of that time, it aimed to describe life as it was. Besides painting and arts, our scholars should look into human relations and characteristics from sexual minorities’ viewpoints in shamanism and religion as well.

Cuba: Gay journalist fired for collaborating with independent media

Journalist Maykel González, a member of an LGBT rights group that is independent from the Cuban government, lost his job at a government-run radio station because of his “collaboration with private media.”

Canada: Provinces adopt policies on trans ID, anti-LGBT bullying

The province of Ontario will no longer identify a person’s gender on the front of health care identification cards, and will begin offering the option of an “X” rather than male or female on divers licenses.

In British Columbia, all schools, including independent schools, must adopt anti-bullying policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity before the end of the year.

Bolivia: New transgender ID law goes into effect

Transgender Bolivians have begun registering for new identification cards that match their gender identity.

UK: Rugby team names, shames, and bans homophobic fan

When a homophobic fan began attacking professional rugby’s first openly gay player on social media, his team, The Batley Bulldogs, publicly announced that the fan would no be allowed to attend any more games.

China: Second unofficial marriage includes trans groom

LGBT equality activists in China are vowing to organize 100 unofficial wedding ceremonies; the second, scheduled for this coming Wednesday, will join a woman and a transgender man. Sixth Tone reports that “because it is very difficult to change one’s registered gender in China, Yao and Liu cannot officially marry since both are women according to their state-issued IDs.”