Mormons Declare Same-Sex Marriage Apostasy, Deny Baptism to Children of Same-Sex Couples; Colombian Court OKs Adoption Over Church Objections; Franklin Graham Praises Putin’s Anti-Gay Policies; Global LGBT Recap

Transgender Europe celebrated its 10th anniversary. In the U.S., the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in the country, affirmed its commitment “to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions.

Mormons Declare Same-Sex Marriage Apostasy, Deny Baptism to Children of Same-Sex Couples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, fresh from playing a visible role at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, announced this week that children living with a same-sex couple, whether adopted or the natural child of one of the parents, cannot be blessed or baptized.

Natural or adopted children living in a same-sex household will only be allowed to be baptized once they are 18, disavow the practice of same-sex cohabitation or marriage, and stop living within the household, according to the policy. Such baptism would still require the approval of the church’s governing First Presidency.

The church also announced that being in a same-sex marriage is a form of apostasy, which makes them subject to church discipline. The change was bad news for Mormons advocating for a welcoming approach to LGBT:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disseminated the handbook changes this week to local church leaders around the world. The goal was to provide clarity to lay leaders who run congregations, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.

But the revisions triggered a wave of anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBT-supportive Mormons who had been buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more compassion and understanding for LGBT members.

“It feels like they are extending an olive branch and hitting you with it,” said Wendy Montgomery, a Mormon mother of a 17-year-old gay son. “It’s like this emotional whiplash.”

Colombia: Court OKs Adoption by Gay Couples, Catholic Church Objects

The constitutional court ruled on Wednesday that same-sex couples can adopt children.

Colombia’s constitutional court has passed a ruling allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, a victory for the country’s LGBT community.

Previously couples could only adopt a child if it was the offspring of one of the partners, but after hours of debate a 6-2 vote was made in favor of adoption.

The decision was slammed by Catholic Church officials:

Colombia’s Roman Catholic Church immediately denounced the decision as violating the rights of children and going against the wishes of the majority of Colombians who polls say overwhelmingly reject giving gays the same rights to marriage and adoption as heterosexual couples.

“Our protest is emphatic,” Monsignor Juan Vicente Cordoba, a church spokesman, told RCN TV, reiterating the church’s demand that the issue be decided by a plebiscite.

“We have the right so that the voice of the majority of Colombians is heard. The court is there to take care of the laws, not change them,” he said.

Notes the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers:

Wednesday’s landmark ruling comes less than four months after the Colombian Constitutional Court held a hearing on the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country. Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, Macarena Saez of American University Washington College of Law in D.C. and Colombia Diversa Executive Director Marcela Sánchez were among those who testified in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians. A representative from the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT group from the U.S., also took part in the July 30 hearing.

Russia: Franklin Graham Meets With Orthodox Leaders, Praises Putin’s Anti-Gay Agenda

Two anti-gay lawmakers introduced legislation last week that would essentially make it illegal for gay people to come out in Russia. The bill would impose fines or jail time for “public expression of unconventional sexual relationships. According to the bill’s authors, pedophilia “is an essential component of the homosexual movement, without which it would not substantially proceed.”

American evangelist Franklin Graham went to Russia, praising Vladimor Putin and attacking President Barack Obama.

“I have met the president on several occasions. He’s a very nice person,” Graham told a Russian newspaper. “But he supports and promotes policies that contradict the teachings of God. As a Christian I believe that abortion is murder, he supports it. Homosexuality and same-sex marriage — those are sins against God, and the president is promoting them. I’m not against homosexuals as people. But God commanded that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

“And I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda,” Graham continued. “If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children. I believe that President Obama (and I’ll repeat, he’s a very nice person) is leading America down the wrong road. He’s taking a stand against God.”

More from Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch:

In a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was widely reported in the Russian news media, Graham reportedly told the Orthodox primate: “When I was a young man, we worried that the world would become atheist under the influence of communism, but while communism fell, atheism didn’t go anywhere. Unfortunately my own president promotes atheism … I spoke about this with President Obama, but he did not understand. Unfortunately he does not have a Christian worldview.”

According to another report, Graham told Patriarch Kirill, “Many churches in America have started to support homosexuality. This is terrible, it’s a sin and it’s against God.”

“I call for prayers for the president of Russia, who is protecting traditional Christianity,” Graham reportedly said.

Speaking of Graham, the closing keynote speaker at the World Congress of Families, Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper, described a White House “that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood than Franklin Graham.”

United Kingdom: Married Chaplain Loses Anti-Discrimination Case Against Church of England

Bishop Jeremy Pemberton, a hospital chaplain employed by the National Health Service, lost an employment discrimination case against the Church of England after he married his same-sex partner and was subsequently stripped of his license to preach in the licence to preach in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, which “effectively thwarted a planned promotion to a senior chaplaincy post because it meant he was no longer seen as ‘in good standing’ with the Church.” Notes the Telegraph, “An employment tribunal in Nottingham ruled in the Church’s favour, finding he was “not complying” of his ordination vows by rebelling against Church policy.” But he continues in his chaplaincy in Lincolnshire. The judge noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury was “aware of the competing tensions” within the Church on homosexuality.

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, a prominent liberal cleric who gave expert evidence in support of Canon Pemberton, said the case amounted to an expensive farce.

“The Church of England seems to have spent hundreds of thousands and possibly more on top London lawyers to ensure that a gay hospital chaplain in Lincolnshire cannot practise in Nottinghamshire,” he said.

“That seems an awful lot of money to spend on something like that.

“This leaves the Church of England looking like a laughing stock.

“It is completely irrational: this man is doing the job in one place why on Earth can’t he do it 20 miles away.

The decision was slammed by veteran LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell:

“This decision sets three dangerous precedents: that the Church of England is exempt from the laws prohibiting workplace discrimination; that it is entitled to discriminate against gay clergy who have been lawfully married in a civil ceremony; and that it can lawfully dictate to non-religious institutions, such as the NHS, who they can employ.

“This contradicts the principles of the Equality Act 2010.

“It gives a green light to Bishops across Britain to witch-hunt married gay clergy.”

Ukraine: Parliament Blocks Nondiscrimination Law, Risks EU Visa Agreement

The parliament blocked legislation that would ban anti-gay discrimination in the workplace, defying the European Union, which said the legislation was a condition of joining a zone of countires that allows visa- and passport-free travel.

Poroshenko’s government was dealt another blow when a member of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s own party denounced the bill in a passionate back-bench address.

“As a country with a thousand-year-old Christian history, we simply cannot allow this,” lawmaker Pavlo Unguryan said.

“Today, a special status for sexual minorities is simply unacceptable.”

Scotland: Lesbian Tory Leader Says Faith Contributed to Struggle Coming Out

Ruth Davidson, a lesbian and Scottish Tory leader, told BBC Radio Scotland that she had struggled with her sexuality for years before coming out. From Pink News:

“But there comes a point at which you make a decision and that decision is either that you’re going to live a lie for the rest of your life, or you’re going to trust yourself, and that’s what I had to do.”

She went on to talk about how her Church of Scotland upbringing and her faith added to her struggle to accept herself, recalling how hard it was to read certain parts of the Bible.

“To read Paul’s letter to various churches around the globe talking about ‘homosexual offenders’ – the phrase in the international version…and talking about idolaters and adulterers and thieves being ranked together was very, very difficult.”

Slovenia: Anti-Marriage Referendum Set for December 20

Lawmakers scheduled a referendum on marriage equality for December 20, “after the bid was pushed through by conservative groups backed by the Catholic Church,” according to Associated Press.

Japan: Same-Sex Couple Registers in Tokyo

Hiroko Masuhara and Koyuki Higashi were the first same-sex couple to register their partnership, as two districts in Tokyo began issuing those certificates.

They are designed to encourage landlords and hospitals to treat gay couples the same way as married ones.

However, the documents do not provide the same legal status as marriage.

BBC Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says campaigners are welcoming “a small step forward in a deeply conservative country”.

Younger people in Japan generally support gay rights but the prime minister has previously urged caution over changing the law.

Northern Ireland: Marriage Equality Gets Majority But Still Blocked in Assembly

A majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to legalize marriage equality on Monday, but the ruling Democratic Unionist Party invoked a parliamentary maneuver that prevents it from moving forward. The New York Times’ Douglas Dalby explains:

Under Northern Ireland’s complex power-sharing arrangements, any legislative amendment must command sufficient cross-community support. The D.U.P. used this so-called petition of concern mechanism to impose a veto.

A petition of concern requires at least 60 percent of assembly members to vote for a motion, with at least 40 percent of both unionist and nationalist representatives present and voting. In this case, it effectively means that same-sex marriage legislation will remain prohibited as long as the D.U.P., which holds 38 seats in the Assembly, opposes it.

Critics accused the party of abusing powers that were granted as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Petitions of concern were introduced to encourage power-sharing and cross-community support between Unionists and Nationalists, and allow a group of 30 MLAs to ‘veto’ legislation if it is deemed to harm one community.

However, as the DUP have 38 MLAs, they can effectively unilaterally stop any legislation.

Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said: “It is true that the DUP have abused the petition of concern to block this vote and are now ignoring the will of the Assembly and the people of Northern Ireland but we will not allow them to dampen our joy… our campaign continues and it will not end until marriage equality is a reality for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Nigeria: Gay Nigerian Challenges His Country’s Religious Leaders

Openly gay Nigerian Davis Mac-Iyalla wrote this week about the “increasingly dysfunctional attitude of the Nigerian Anglican Church” toward LGBT people.

The more progress we make in creating awareness and telling our own stories the more we offend the Nigerian religious leaders who have chosen to distant homosexuality from our history and culture. Can all Africans honestly say and prove that we have always had a history and culture free of homosexuality and lesbianism? Before the advent of western missionary and colonial masters to Nigeria, homosexuality was not a taboo.

When former president Good-luck Jonathan signed Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act into law in January 2014, the leaders of the local Anglican Catholic Church were very much in support of such draconian and antihuman laws. So were the entire Christian Association and their Muslim counter parts.

I knew that both the Nigerian government and the religious leaders expected us, the LGBT Community, to put a strong fight and resistance against the law. They were glad when we did very little. This was not because we were too afraid but because we really didn’t have the resources to face this challenge. We – as a community – have not agreed on a common strategy in challenging the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and have sometimes blamed each other and our allies instead of focusing on fighting the oppressor….

The fundamental problem here is that most of the African governments and religious leaders have created a society of fear and terror for the LGBT people. We want to have a dialogue in an environment where we will be safe. That is why I will keep reminding the Nigerian religious leaders of their promise that we are all equally loved by God and deserve to be protected.

Queer and Muslim

In the Atlantic, Jordan Alam writes about “the day-to-day lived experiences of queer people who identify religiously or culturally with Islam—particularly the difficulty they face in trying to find communities that embrace their multiple identities.” The story focuses on queer Muslims in the U.S., some of them immigrants.

One cofounder of the Michigan Arab Queer Collective said it was a challenge to find a community as a refugee in the U.S. after she left Beirut and Meem, a Lebanese group of more than 300 women and trans people. “When I left to the States as a refugee, I assumed that I would just immediately find a constituency of people who shared similar struggles with me,” she said. “Little did I know that relocating to Dearborn was as sensitive as being a queer Muslim woman in Lebanon.”

…Race also affects how these communities are formed. The cofounder of Third Coast Queer Muslims of Chicago and the Upper Midwest, who writes under the pen name Zaynab Shahar, said black American Muslims are often sidelined, even in groups designed to be welcoming. “Much of the narrative on what it means to be an LGBTQ Muslim in the United States focuses on immigration and the process of identity reconciliation … Just because many of us were born in this country doesn’t mean there aren’t [unique] in-group cultural expectations [to navigate],” she said.

Most of these groups want to create spaces for queer Muslims, rather than replace more conservative Muslim communities. “I do not buy into the myth that all non-queer Muslims are homophobic,” said Mohamed of Queer Muslims of Boston. But these and other organizations, such as Noor in Seattle and El-Tawhid Juma Circle in Toronto, are filling a long-ambiguous space within Muslim communities. As Shahar said, “I’m over people within the LGBTQ Muslim movement telling me the movement is young and therefore we need to wait a little bit longer before rolling up our sleeves and helping folks among us.”

Australia: Surviving Spouse Describes Ordeal Caused By Lack of Marriage Equality

In the Examiner, Ben Jago describes the way his grief over the suicide of his partner was compounded when police officials turned his partner’s body over to his estranged mother. He was denied the chance to see his partner’s body in the hospital and was forced to negotiate for the ability to attend the funeral and sit quietly in the back, unrecognized.

I didn’t know it then, but under Tasmanian law I was deemed to be his significant partner and next-of-kin, even without registering a relationship.

I don’t know if the officials I spoke to were ignorant of the law or just felt I didn’t deserve the recognition it gave me…

I know a huge volume of work has been done to remove discrimination, especially in Tasmania, but prejudice is still alive and well, and is still disadvantaging and damaging people like me.

If there is one positive thing to come from what I’ve been through it is this: it is crystal clear the current legal rights and protections available to same-sex partners are not enough.

It is not enough to be deemed a “significant”, “de facto” or “registered” partner when this can be ignored by people in authority.

I believe that if my partner and I had been able to marry under Australian law none of what I have described would have happened.

Last Saturday, about a dozen members of Tasmania’s police force marched in the state’s pride parade, which Commissioner Darren Hine said was “intended to show a modern police force committed to protecting human rights.”

 India: Grey’s Anatomy Episode Generates Official Complaint

The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council issued a notice the Star World television channel for showing an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that the council said denigrated women by showing a lesbian scene, writes Pink News.

This is not the first time the Indian government has voiced its consternation at LGBT content in the media, going so far as to ban Dragon Age Inquisition, a video game that featured a prominent gay character, from release in the country.

India made the shock move to recriminalise gay sex in a shock ruling two years ago.

Despite the government’s ruling, there is still support for gay people in the country with India’s  biggest political party supporting decriminalising homosexuality once again.