Thinking Anglicans

Faith, Homophobia & Human Rights

A conference with this title was held last Saturday.

My own report of the conference appears in this week’s Church Times. The text of that report, on the CT website next week, is meanwhile reproduced here (with permission), below the fold.

A press release giving more details of the event is here. See also these pictures and audio files, the draft programme, and the full text of the statement made.

Conference hears of Iraqi gay persecution

by Simon Sarmiento

AN Iraqi gay-rights campaigner, Ali Hilli, received a standing ovation at a conference on faith, homophobia, and human rights in London on Saturday.

Mr Hilli, the founder of Iraqi LGBT, described how multiple fatwas issued by leading Shia clerics, with the collusion of the Iraqi government, were giving divine authority for the murder of gays and lesbians by Badr and Sadr militias. This had recently been confirmed by a UN Human Rights Office report, which also quoted a religious court judge as saying: “Most [gays] have been killed, and others have fled.”

The Iraqi government had condemned the UN report, saying that rights for homosexuals “are not suitable for Iraqi society”.

The 200 people attending the conference, organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), included representatives from a wide range of organisations, and all the main faiths. They ratified a statement that “deplored” what it regarded as “internalised homophobia within religious institutions”.

Christian leaders in the UK were criticised, particularly in relation to the recent attempt to exclude Roman Catholic adoption agencies from the forthcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations in England, Wales, and Scotland.

A former Labour Cabinet minister, Lord Smith of Finsbury, was critical of the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd George Cassidy. In a recent House of Lords debate on the new Northern Ireland anti-discrimination regulations (News, 12 January), Bishop Cassidy had said that “the regulations clearly demonstrate the need to strike a fair balance between the rights of homosexual people to be treated with dignity and respect, and the rights of Christians and other people of faith to manifest their religious beliefs.”

Arguing that “there was not an absolute right to manifest a belief in action if that action caused harm to others,” Lord Smith said that Bishop Cassidy had merely put more elegantly some of the justifications of discrimination used by others outside the House of Lords.

Lord Smith also expressed sadness that Dr Williams, in his attempts to hold the Anglican Communion together, had appeared to “give house-room to arrogant and homophobic views from some parts of the Anglican Communion”.

The conference’s statement said: “We reject the activities of certain religious leaders’ seeking exemptions from equality legislation, and attempts to base this on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, such a right being for all, not just for some. . .

“We believe that full civil rights for LGBT individuals are not only consistent with the right to religious freedom, but are rooted in the best and fundamental teachings of all major faiths: love, justice, compassion, and mercy, such values being shared by all who seek the common good.”

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Göran Koch-SwahneruidhDaveJenny HynesErika Baker Recent comment authors
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Pluralist
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Very good. Looking at the list of contributors, it makes me think in the light of all else going on that there is, and does need to be, a coalition of progressive Christians, Jews, religious humanists, secular humanists and those in interfaith work. Not represented here but I can think of progressive Hindus and a few Muslims, and of course Western and other Buddhists – and why the interfaith element is important. It’s not just in this important area of LGBT inclusion, but across a number of issues. They begin with basic human rights and each time it is about… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

So here we get to the heart of our dilemmas. (1)Bishop Cassidy informs us: We must of course strike a balance between peoples’ rights to actually live in safety in the real world, and my rights to preach that God will squash them like bugs and burn them forever for not believing what I believe in my superior beliefs. (All praise and glory to God, then.) (2)Lord Smith of Finsbury replies: You may believe what you like, but you may not put that belief into action without considering the harm you do to others. Then he pointedly tells Bishop Cassidy… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

One big, big thanks from one little believer to all the people who helped put the recent conference together. I am sure you did lots of hard work, and I am sure you are a blessing, even to people who cannot yet discern you as part of God’s blessing upon them, inside or outside of the communion.

Craig Nelson
Guest

Congratulations to the organisers of the Conference which seems to have been a big success. Just a thought is how we need much more meeting spaces for people of differing religious beliefs and none and those within what might be termed ‘civil society’, including civil LGBT society to talk through the challenges we are facing. The more people are part of this conversation the better. And of course any of a more conservative hue who want to get into the project of actively tackling homophobia in society (of which quite frankly we have seen precious little and I’m not holding… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Bravo, yes conservative Anglicans could make an excellent start on taking stands and uniting to pressure both Nigeria and Jamaica to change their prejudice and discrimination. How about a season of worldwide Anglican fasting from prejudice and discrimination? Oh yeah, I just remembered: Justice is a shallow secular concept that pales into wispy thin air, next to realignment views of personal holiness. Now how could I have forgotten that one? Funny that the believers who wish to avoid superficial and irreligious conversations about rights – ugghhh, not human rights again, that is soooooo last century? – are just the ones… Read more »

Robert
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Robert

Let us reject the term homophobia outright. It is merely a cheap, ad hominem attack on those who disagree with any minor aspect of the homosexual political machine.

“I think that gay bath-houses should be shut down because of their proclivities towards promiscuity and spreading of STDs.”

“You homophobe.”

The term homophobia thus stops the dialog by accusing the person has a psychiatric disorder, a phobia.

We, who do not agree with every stand of Queer Nation, should reject the term at every opportunity.

Craig Nelson
Guest

A contributor said: “Let us reject the term homophobia outright. It is merely a cheap, ad hominem attack on those who disagree with any minor aspect of the homosexual political machine.” In many respects the term ‘homophobia’ is not so useful and I wish there was another that could be used. What it does come down to is the political idea that gay people should be treated as inferior and therefore a lot of energy has to go into inferiorising gay people generates, left to its own devices, and has always generated unless checked by other ideas societies like Nigeria… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Robert wrote: “We, who do not agree with every stand of Queer Nation, should reject the term at every opportunity”

You already do, dear Robert. You even bring it up before everybody else.

How is it that you haven’t noticed?

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This conference is an excellent initiative. On Craig Nelson’s Saturday suggestion about needing more meeting spaces to talk through the issues and the implications. In the most recent TA thread there is a quote “…The “low point” of the Primates’ Meeting came, Jefferts Schori said, when one primate equated homosexuality with pedophilia and another said he couldn’t see why the Anglican Communion should study homosexuality if it doesn’t need to study murder.” It reminds me of a scene in a recent holocaust documentary where a naked Jewish woman and her child were being led into the gas chambers. The woman… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Perhaps this is the place to draw attention to Acceting Evangelicals and the association with alternative worship of the creative postmodern kind.

http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/Index.htm

Other pages too about personnel involved.

http://www.alternativeworship.org/definitions_definition.html

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Technically, the empirical research that has fairly well replicated the earlier studies of racism, antisemitism, and the like via careful investigations of the prejudice and discrimination towards queer folks suggests we use the term, heterosexism. But that just for now misses the fear and anger and disgust which somehow the term homophobia has partly connoted. There is indeed nothing special about prejudice or discrimination directed against people who are not straight. Being antigay simply imitates being anti-women, or anti-Hindu or anti-African or anti- whatever. If Akinola ever begins to make the connection between the prejudice/discrimination he and Africans have faced… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

One additional note if I may.

No exploration of prejudice/discrimination would be complete with us reviewing Professor Stanley Milgram’s famous experiments, grouped under the rubric of Obedience To Authority.

These help us understand something core about how antigay prejudice/discrimination works in the real worlds of various cultures around the planet.

See: http://www.new-life.net/milgram.htm

And: http://www.milgramreenactment.org/

Trust me, this stuff is real, and it is really something to understand.

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

“Let us reject the term homophobia outright. It is merely a cheap, ad hominem attack on those who disagree with any minor aspect of the homosexual political machine.” Someone who claims ownership of a sin and can speak from a position of having experienced, lived and repented of that sin is in something of a privileged position to talk about it. I was homophobic. I, a recently divorced man, worshiped at a parish with a significant gay membership. I was not gay. I did not want to be mistaken for gay. I did not want someone itting on me. I… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Drdanfee comments “No exploration of prejudice/discrimination would be complete with us reviewing Professor Stanley Milgram’s famous experiments…” Let’s remember the scandal those experiments caused. Milgram was out to prove out evil the Germans were, and discovered that American citizens would commit the same atrocities in the same circumstances. The results were so scandalous that they established a code of ethics on how far psychological experiments should go. The other scandal is how the people who should have realised the significance of the experiments and gone back to understand how the same phenomenom had been previously paid out in history did… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thank you, ruidh, for this moving post

Jenny Hynes
Guest
Jenny Hynes

“The Law is made for Man, not Man for the Law.” The words of a true disciple of Christ. I shall echo Erika Baker’s post, yes ruidh, thank you so very much.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Lord Smith said there was “not an absolute right to manifest a belief in action if that action caused harm to others,” Obviously not.. But what does that have to do with the RCs being banned from providing adoption services ? Their offer to refer homosexual partners to alternative providers of adoption services prevented any real “harm”… If what Lord Smith meant by ‘harm’ in this case is “feeling hurt” – then that would ban manifesting *anything* belief (political, ethical, scientific, and artistic as well as religious) that anyone else felt hurt or threatened by! In a free society the… Read more »

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

“But what does that have to do with the RCs being banned from providing adoption services ?”

Let’s be very clear. No one is being banned. The RCs do not wish to conform to the law and plan to remove themselves. The choice is theirs. They wish to continue to discriminate where the law does not permit it. I have no sympathy.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dave wrote: “Lord Smith said there was “not an absolute right to manifest a belief in action if that action caused harm to others…” and asked: “But what does that have to do with the RCs being banned from providing adoption services?” Nothing, dear Dave, absolutely nothing. The Roman church is not “being banned from providing adoption services”. and “If what Lord Smith meant by ‘harm’ in this case is “feeling hurt” – then that would ban manifesting *anything* belief (political, ethical, scientific, and artistic as well as religious) that anyone else felt hurt or threatened by!” You k n… Read more »