Like the years before, progressive religious groups, communions and individuals have organised for, joined in and supported this year’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and spoke up for LGBTQI Freedom of Expression and Equality.
For many years now, the Global Interfaith vigil, organised from Italy by Gionata, the Italian Project on Faith and Homosexuality, in support of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, has taken place throughout the week of May 17 and after in various cities in Italy and other European countries. The focus of the vigil is to commemorate the victims of homophobic violence and discrimination. The events were organised by local churches and groups and took place as followed:
- May 12: Bologna (Italy)
- May 15: Florence and Palermo (Italy)
- May 16: Padova, Parma, Pistoia, Rome (Italy) and Siviglia (Spain)
- May 17: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Borgo Priolo (Italy), Catania (Italy), Colchester (UK), Forano Sabino (Italy), Licata (Italy), Lisbon (Portugal), Mantova (Italy), Mdina (Malta), Pecara (Italy), Pinerolo (Italy), Porto (Portugal), Rome (Italy), Torino (Italy) and Trieste (Italy)
- May 18: Rome (Italy), Florence (Italy), Grosseto (Italy), Licata (Italy), Liverpool (UK), Madrid (Spain), Milan (Italy), Naples (Italy), Padova (Italy), Rimini (Italy) and Trapani (Italy)
- May 19: Barcelona (Spain)
- May 20: Genova (Italy)
- May 22: Milan (Italy)
The vigils and commemorations will be continuing in Italy until June 13 and will include Palermo, Livorno and Cremona.
The Upper Room Communion, a Christian progressive Church in Durban, South Africa celebrated IDAHOT with a walk along the Durban’s beach front and highlighted the global theme Freedom of Expression.
With signs such as ‘Some Christians are gay. Get over it!’ and ‘God loves Fags’ they also made a stand against Homophobia that is justified through religion.
In Cameroon, the LGBT community met with religious and political leaders to discuss homosexuality.
In Cambodia, CamASEAN Gay Pride organised workshops on the 17th & 18th of May. “Voice to Voiceless” on 17th May invited same-sex couples who live together for more than 30 years, among them are Muslim couples and indigenous couples. The purpose was for them to share how they live under the same roof for many years and how they advocate for acceptance from their community. In addition to that, commune leaders were invited to share how they react to accept the homosexual couples and individuals living in their villages.
In Jerusalem, Israel, prior to IDAHOT there were activities coordinated by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) to commemorate the day, including a Pride Shabbes on May 5 & 6 which was a joined effort by the Jewish congregation.
With the title ‘Living in Prophetic Hope‘ and under the theme “Moving from Fear and Hopelessness to Spirit-led Action in Deeply Homophobic Communities”, various LGBTI christian groups came together in London, UK for a day’s workshop of prayer, film, reflection and talks. They were also highlighting the role of christian churches in anti-LGBT rhetorics and violence, as the organisers stated ahead of the event: “It is our own Christian churches that play a crucial role in supporting homophobic rhetoric and policies of hatred in countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia. Homophobia is also still very much present in the UK, as recent statements from the Anglican House of Bishops sadly attest. It is woven tightly into racism and classism; it feeds people’s irrational fears about immigrants, and ongoing repression within immigrant communities.”
Changing Attitude Ireland (C.A.I.), a Church of Ireland organisation with ecumenical friends arranged services in commemoration of IDAHOT in several cities in Ireland and Northern Ireland, including Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast, Derry and Newry.
As part of the Pride Month, Gay Fraternidad Sin Fronteras has organised a Faith Fair about Churches and Hate Crimes in El Salvador which was sponsored by USAID – ALDES.
In Rosendale, New York (USA), the screening of the documentary “Taking a Chance on God” at the Rosendale Theatre, sponsored by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, coincided with IDAHOT. The film tells the story of the life of gay pioneer priest John McNeill and aims to open up the Catholic church and society in general to LGBT people.
CALEM, the Confederation of Associations LGBT, Euro-Africans or Muslims, is in the midst of opening the first international, Inclusive, self-sustainable Muslims’ center (an inclusive mosque, a refugees’ shelter & a progressive imam-es training institute) in South Africa in the city of Malmesbury – 30 minutes North of Cape Town– called CALEM Rumi’s Isiphephelo. The motto of this center is to promote empowerment, learning, sharing and freedom. It will provide refuge for healing from persecution trauma, welcome and train vulnerable individuals, in order to participate to their emancipation, especially LGBT from a Muslim background, with a priority for those coming from Middle East and Africa, thrown out of their home and/or community and/or country because of their sexual orientation; but also welcoming and training HIV positive individuals and women from a Muslim background, in need of support, discriminated because of their HIV status or gender identity. The start for building the center was on May 17 and the centre is estimated to be ready by mid-June 2014. The reasons behind the project are that
In a time when the LGBT communities all over the world increasingly are organizing themselves, demanding the public space to exist, to meet and to find protection under the law, the forces against these rights are being mobilized. This is happening both at a national and international level. These forces claim to justify their fight with religious and customary laws, arguing that sexual and gender diversity is a foreign and evil societal import. The irony is that it is often religious movements from outside pushing national politicians and religious leaders to make the already existing laws against women & LGBT vulnerable individuals even more severe, like death penalty or life imprisonment.
Many more religious groups took part in activities planned for IDAHOT and showed their solidarity with the LGBTI community and stood up for a more progressive & tolerant religious practice.