Press Release – 1 July 2004
On the eve of the installation of the Very Revd Jeffrey John as Dean of St Albans the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement have issued the following open letter.
An appeal to the Bishops of the West supporting the Bishops of the Global South.
1 July 2004
Fathers in God,
The majority of homosexual people in the world are not engaged in the present dispute over the ordination of lesbian and gay Christians.
They live in some 80 countries which persecute LGBT people through their penal codes with punishments ranging from death to mutilation and imprisonment.
For these millions, mostly in the Global South, preserving their life and liberty is their daily concern and it is on their behalf we now appeal to you for help.
You have a unique position to help homosexual people. Few, if any of you, would advocate these terrible punishments in your own countries, and we ask you to use your influence to persuade your brother bishops to help remedy these injustices in their homelands.
Canon Gregory Cameron recently informed the Canadian Church Synod that Christians in the Global South had come under attack merely by being associated with the inclusive Canons and actions of ECUSA. This violence is deplorable, but it is only a shadow of the life-threatening violence LGBT people experience in those same communities where homophobia is public policy and sadly, often supported by religious leaders.
Situations such as this are fraught with danger, the spiral of violence and hatred towards homosexuals easily escalates. Because people fear “guilt by association” they try to demonstrate their position by ever increasing homophobic comments and actions. In fear of their own lives they can find themselves driven to extreme acts to demonstrate they are not “tainted”. The murderous consequence of this to homosexuals are obvious - and a present reality.
Unguarded remarks from some Global South bishops who have said LGBT people are “dogs” or “worse than beasts”, inflame an already explosive situation. In many places homosexuals are seen as “sub-human” and killing them is seen as a purifying act. In some cultures new popular songs encourage the murder of homosexuals.
Historically homosexuals have been invisible victims, along with those with learning difficulties, mental illness and the chronically sick elderly, we have been amongst the first to be swept away in times when democracy is weak or totalitarian regimes hold sway. We have also been among the last to see our persecution acknowledged and our liberties restored.
LGBT people often hear from Christians that they themselves are loved, it is only their sinful sexual practice that is at fault. They are asking you now to show that love in a practical and positive way to stop their suffering.
Through your support for the Global South you have an influence that could save many lives. To do nothing is to be complicit in these crimes against humanity.
Richard Kirker Revd
General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
A list of some countries and maximum penalties follows:
Nigeria - 14yrs prison
Jamaica - 10 yrs prison
Sudan - death
Kenya - 14 yrs prison
Uganda - Life in prison
Tanzania - 14 yrs in prison
South India - Life in Prison
Pakistan - 100 lashes/death
Bangladesh - Life in prison
North India - Life in Prison
Ceylon - 10 years in Prison
Botswana - 10 yrs in Prison
Mozambique - 3 years hard labour
In many other countries homosexuality is illegal but the codes do not set a tariff leaving it to the local courts to decide.
(Individual copies of this letter have been sent to :1. those bishops in England who opposed The Very Revd Jeffrey John's nomination as a bishop;2. the bishop of Pittsburgh and the other bishops in the USA who have combined in opposition to the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson; 3. the Primate of New Zealand; 4. the archbishop of Sydney.)
Press Officer & Director of Communications
General Secretary, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM]
020 7739 1249 (work)
Address: Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG
A membership based international ecumenical organisation open to all irrespective of sexual orientation challenging homophobia in the Churches and other Christian communities.
We offer support, counselling, publications, groups, conferences and networking opportunities focussed on creating an inclusive Church and welcoming congregations.
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