Tag Archives: LGBT equality

Gay marriage advocates gain corporate support

Gay marriage advocates have a new and powerful ally in corporate America.

One by one, national corporations like Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing and Google are wading into the once-risky business of taking a position supporting gay marriage in states across the country.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, which a federal appeals court called unconstitutional on Thursday. Forty-eight companies, including Nike, Time Warner Cable, Aetna, Exelon Corp., and Xerox had signed a brief arguing that the law negatively affected their businesses.

Read more- Politico

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Why the Church Should Fight Anti-Gay Bigotry

Last week, I called attention to, but did not write about, an important article by former Ambassador Thomas Melady and the Reverend Richard Cizik, a prominent evangelical leader. The two men wrote about the need for Christians to oppose efforts in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality, including life-time prison sentences and even death as penalties in certain cases. I think Melady’s and Cizik’s article is very important.

Many gay men and women see the Christian Church as unjust and bigoted towards them. For purposes of this article, I will only consider the situation of the Catholic Church. Just today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in publishing its notice about Sr. Margaret Farley’s book on sexual ethics, reaffirmed the teaching that: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” It is not difficult to see how gay men and women could find these words hurtful and even demeaning, even though the CDF precedes this bit about “intrinsically disordered” by affirming the fact that the Church also teaches gay men and women “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

I should like to see the Catholic Church, and the broader Christian community, do more to focus on the teaching about “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and think Melady’s and Cizik’s article does this. It does not ask the Church’s leaders to do something they do not think they could, i.e., change the Church’s teaching. It does not ask the Church to reverse its views on marriage. Instead, the call to oppose unjust discrimination against gays in Uganda asks the Church to do what it can.

Michael Sean Winters

-full post at National Catholic Reporter

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61% of UK Christians back equal rights for gay couples – Survey

There is extensive evidence that the US is moving to embrace full equality for lesbian and gay couples, and that Catholics are more supportive than the population at large. American Evangelicals though, remain (mostly) hostile. There has not been nearly as much polling for the UK, but a new survey shows even more support than in the US – including from 61% of all Christians.

61% of Christians back equal rights for gay couples

Results of a poll released today say 61% of people in the UK who identify as Christian back fully equal rights for gay couples.

The 2011 Ipsos MORI study explored the “beliefs, knowledge and attitudes” of people who identified as Christian after the nationwide census last year.

74% of respondents said as Christians they thought religion should not have a special influence on public life.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Six in ten respondents, 61%, agreed that gays should have the same rights in all aspects of their lives as straight people.

Only 29% said they disapproved of sexual relationships between gays. Nearly half said they did not actively disapprove.

– full report at  PinkNews.co.uk.

A word of caution here, is that the survey was sponsored by the explicitly secularist Richard Dawkins Foundation, which is using the results to demonstrate that the UK is a secular society, and not a “Christian country”. It does not appear to have released the full questionnaire or tables. The only results currently available are those selected for inclusion in the press release by the Foundation. In particular, the description “Christian” appears to be used for those who describe themselves as such – many of whom do not actively practice their religion.

There is no reason to disregard the main thrust of the finding though, which is in agreement with what previous research is available. British opinion is firmly on the side of LGBT inclusion – and that includes those who think of themselves Christian.

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Oz State Premier Stands Up To Cardinal Pell, Secures Gay Adoption for NSW.

Breaking news today is that the New South Wales state assembly has narrowly approved a bill to put LGBT and heterosexual couples on an equal footing for adoption procedures. There are still a few hurdles to clear before this becomes final, but (as far as I can tell), with this one, the biggest has now been cleared. This is big news for queer Catholics. The formidable Cardinal Pell made clear his strong opposition – but the equally strong support of the Catholic NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, appears to have been decisive in providing just enough resistance.
Kristina Kenneally, Catholic and Advocate for Adoption Equality

Perhaps it was the full-fledged backing given to the Bill by New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, which took the wind out of the sails of opponents. “In forming my position on this Bill, I have considered my experiences as a mother, my responsibilities as a parliamentarian and my conscience as a Christian and member of the Catholic faith,” she told lawmakers. Instead of proving divisive, it served to unite New South Wales’s main political outfits with Opposition Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell also voting in its favor.

This is an important reminder to all of us that the “Catholic Church” is far more than the bishops and cardinals who claim to speak for us. They are fully entitled to speak on behalf of the Vatican and Vatican doctrine – but when they claim to speak on behalf of “the church”, research evidence consistently shows that they deceive. On numerous issues of sexual ethics, ministry, and papal authority, the evidence is that right across the globe, most Catholics simply do not agree with orthodox Vatican doctrine.

This decision is also important as another indicator of an Australian paradox. In the global march to family equality, Australia stands out as an oddity. Although surveys have shown that a strong majority of Australians support full marriage and adoption rights for same sex couples, there is still no national provision for either, and both of the major political parties opposed full equality during the recent election campaign. Below the surface, however, there have been increasing signs of a gathering groundswell of support that could soon force the issue. The election result, which produced a hung parliament with increased influence for independents and a stronger Green Party, may show the major parties how mistaken they were – and may pave the way for a major rethink. It is significant that the NSW result came after a “conscience” vote in the assembly (that is, members were permitted by their whips to take their own decisions, rather than following a party line). It is believed that a conscience vote on marriage in the national parliament could attract significant support.
Meanwhile, even as Canberra dithers, there are regular advances at state level, with the adoption decision in New South Wales just the latest of several.   Earlier this week the Tasmanian lower house voted to recognise same sex marriages conducted elsewhere, which means that Tasmanian couples will be able to secure secure legally recognised marriage easily enough – provided only that they are willing to travel abroad for the wedding. (Several countries which currently recognise marriage equality do not have residency requirements. Nepal could soon be another.)
Gay adoption is already recognised in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, which is also the only state to conduct formal civil partnerships. (New South Wales and Victoria maintain less formal domestic partnership registers, which makes it easier for same sex couples to achieve the de facto recognition that in principle they are entitled to – but which in practice can be difficult without suitable documentary evidence of the relationship.)
Each separate move at state level inevitably leaves the population that much more accustomed to the idea of family equality, and queer families increasingly visible as ordinary members of society, deserving equal treatment before the law, just like everyone else. Each advance bring the next one closer, eroding still further the resistance. Even before the vote in last month’s election, the Greens were promising to introduce a bill to provide for national gay marriage. When they do, they and the newly influential independents in the hung parliament will aim to secure a conscience vote. I suspect that even if they get one, it is unlikely that gay marriage will pass just yet. However, it is clear that Labour at least lost votes as a result of their stand against equality. The coming vote on a Green bill for marriage equality will not be the last. Sooner or later (and probably the former), the politicians will realise they are on the wrong side of history, and stand up for justice.
Cardinal Pell will soon have a lot more to worry about than adoption equality in one more Australian state.

The Road To Equality: How Long, How Long!

After I placed a report this week on the UN accreditation for an LGBT Human Rights Group, I noted in a comment that it is important as we celebrate each landmark (as with gay marriage success), we should also look back and recognise how far we have come.
Sadly, I was reminded this week that we also need to look ahead and consider just how far we still have to go. At one end of the scale, there are still five countries that impose the death penalty for homosexual acts. On the other, not even the most progressive countries have year reached  full equality: there are still only a handful of countries with full protection against all discrimination on grounds of both orientation and gender identity. None of those has a full slate of legal protections.
My interest today was triggered by a report from Canada, concerning the possibly imminent execution of an Iranian man, urging the Canadian government to “intervene”. The difficulty in these countries, which are generally pretty hostile to the West in the first place, is knowing how to intervene without aggravating the situation.  The death penalty also still applies in four other states (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Sudan), as well as in some parts of Nigeria and Somalia.
In search of fuller information I went to ILGA (International Lesbian Gay Association), and downloaded their report  on “State Sponsored Homophobia“. This is dated May 2010, so its pretty up to date – but beware. The listing for marriage gives only three countries, omitting Portugal, Iceland Argentina. This a sharp (and encouraging) sign of just how quickly things can sometimes change.

Homosexual acts remain illegal (without the death penalty) in 34 African countries (more than half the total) and eighteen in Asia , in Guyana in South America as well as eleven Caribbean island states, and nine Pacific Island states. Even in Europe,  homosexual acts are illegal in the Turkish part of Cyprus.
Even where homosexuality itself is legal, there are still a few countries where there is not yet an equal age of consent, even in some parts of Europe and North America.
There has been progress with various laws against discrimination of various sorts, but piece-meal protections can never be comprehensive.  There are still only nine countries with constitutional protection against discrimination on grounds of orientation. South Africa led the way in 1994, followed by Canada and Ecuador in 1998, Colombia and Switzerland (2000), Swede (2003), Portugal (2004), Kosovo (2008) and Bolivia (2009).
None of these yet has full legal protection on all the criteria listed by ILGA:
  • Employment discrimination based on orientation
  • Employment discrimination based on gender identity
  • Hate crimes based on orientation considered an aggravating circumstance
  • Hate crimes based on gender identity considered an aggravating circumstance
  • Incitement to hatred on orientation a criminal offence
  • Full marriage equality
  • Adoption by same -sex couples
  • Gender recognition
(Sweden comes closest. It is not included only under “hate crimes based on gender”. Not far to go, Sweden!)
So, wherever you are, there remains work to do on the long road to equality, both in your own country, and even more, in the world at large. Why not see what you can do to help?
(However, there was one suprising bright spot: with all the attention and awareness of homophobia in Africa, it was good to see, in a listing of the dates for decriminalization of homosexual acts, Africa is the only region listed where  in some countries  same-sex activities have NEVER been criminalised.  Hats off to  Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d‘Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Rwanda!)

A Queer Presence at the UN

In a most welcome development, an LGBT human rights group has just won accreditation for observer status at the UN – over strenuous opposition from some GOP politicians.  Among other benefits, this has huge symbolic value – and will enable LGBT lobbyists to directly counter Vatican lobbying efforts lesbigaytrans issues.

From Huffpost:

US gay rights group gets UN accreditation

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Economic and Social Council has voted to accredit the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission after strong lobbying by the U.S. administration.

The 54-member council approved the U.S.-based group’s application for consultative status by a vote of 23-13 with 13 abstentions.

The organization, which has offices in South Africa, Argentina and the Philippines, has been trying since 2007 to get consultative status with the council so it can work at the United Nations. The council serves as the main U.N. forum for discussing international economic and social issues.

The U.S. government and 14 members of Congress supporting the application believe the group’s application was not approved because it promotes gay rights.