A leading LGBT organization in Mexico publicly named nearly forty Catholic priests and religious as gay, the latest move in the country’s escalating debate over LGBT rights.
The National Pride Front released the names of 38 priests and religious who are allegedly in same-gender relationships, reported The Telegraph. Front spokesperson Cristian Galarza explained the decision to release these names:
” ‘Everyone deserves the right to be in the closet. . .But when you come out and condemn homosexuality, condemn gay marriage, and try to influence a secular state, you’ve lost the right to the closet.’ “
The Front said they were not condemning the relationships, but the double standards of church leaders in them who then forcefully oppose marriage equality. The list included ranking church officials and, according to Galarza, not only consensual relationships but “also cases of sexual abuse.”
The decision to publish this list has not only been criticized by conservative opponents of LGBT equality, but by LGBT groups who are upset that anyone would be forcibly outed. Enrique Torre Molina of All Out told The Telegraph:
” ‘They can spin it anyway they want, but they’re ultimately using someone’s sexual orientation as a tool against that person, which is exactly what the LGBT movement is not about. . .If anyone knows how tough it can be to have your sexual orientation used against you, it is a gay or lesbian person.’ “
The list’s publication came ahead of demonstrations against LGBT rights last weekend, organized by the church-backed National Front for the Family. Because some LGBT groups opposed the release of the list of allegedly gay clergy and religious, the organizations skipped counter-protests organized by the National Pride Front.
Some counter-protestors, however, used the demonstrations as an opportunity to practice a different approach to their opponents: dialogue. La Jornada reported:
“For example, a group of people, young and old, straight and gay, stood in front of the Gate of the Lions armed with posters, water bottles, and benches.
“Two poster boards carried by Saúl Espino, one of the first to stand in place, summed up their motives: Our goal is to deactivate hate through dialogue and give a voice, history, and face to diversity. The other sign: I’m a Catholic and I’m gay. I want to talk with you!”
Marriage equality and other rights for LGBT people are hotly contested issues in Mexico after President Enrique Peña Nieto announced in May that he would be pushing Congress to approve such laws.For further context, see Bondings 2.0’s coverage of Mexico earlier this week by clicking here.
While legislative movement has stalled, opposition from anti-LGBT groups has swiftly increased. Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Mexican church warned of a “gay dictatorship” and approved of reparative therapy. Certain LGBT groups have responded in kind, filing discrimination complaints against dioceses and church leaders in several states.
In my previous post on Mexico, I said de-escalation was needed from both sides so that dialogue could replace divisive statements. De-escalation is especially important because of the release of this list, which is to be condemned in the strongest terms. There is no justification for forcibly outing any person, even priests and religious who may be actively opposing LGBT rights and relationships. The question of gay and bisexual men in the priesthood is a personal, as well as a public matter. The church’s negative treatment of them has caused much suffering. It is also deeply troubling that acts of sexual abuse were included in this list given conservative efforts to conflate homosexuality and abuse.
LGBT advocates should not be adding to the pain which LGBT people in ministry and survivors of clergy abuse have already had to endure by uncritically publishing this list. Rather, LGBT advocates should always and everywhere overcome the prejudices and fears driving LGBT-negative figures by responding with love and compassion.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
Religion Dispatches, “Global LGBT Recap”