Each year on May 17th, organizations around the world mark the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). The date was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disease on May 17, 1990. Religious services have often been a standard way that the day is marked in some nations.
This year for IDAHOBIT, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups is collecting signatures from religious leaders and lay people from around the world on a declaration entitled “Believers Say NO to Violence Against LGBTI People.” [Editor’s Note: Though the text of the statement references Europeans, I’ve been assured from one of the organizers that people of faith from all nations are invited to sign it.]
In a statement on the Faith IDAHOBIT website, the organizers explain that the purpose of the statement is find common ground among religious leaders on the issues of preventing violence and discrimination–issues that even churches with negative views on same-sex relationships (such as the Roman Catholic Church) can endorse:
“We can’t realistically expect various faith bodies from all member states of the Council of Europe to have a sudden change of position regarding the LGBTI community. We want to work together though to identify, engage and multiply those religious voices who treat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity similarly with racism, sexism and other forms of intolerance.”
In addition to seeking signers from religious leaders and lay people (see below), the campaign is also asking to explain in a video clip or written message why non-discrimination and non-violence are important values for your work and life. It would be great if you could frame your testimony from your Catholic identity to help get out the word that Catholics oppose discrimination and violence toward LGBT people.You can send your submissions to:
Rev. Shanon Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Wielie Elhorst, email@example.com
Florin Buhuceanu, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you also send a copy of your video or written testimony to Bondings 2.0, we will try to include as many of them as possible in the blog post on IDAHOBIT, May 17th. Send a copy of your submission to info@NewWaysMinistry.org, along with how you would like to be briefly identified. Please make your submission by May 15th.
“We do not all think exactly alike about sexual orientation and gender diversity, but we do all believe that every human being has been created in the image of God. This transcends all our markers of identity: age, gender identities and expressions, sexualities, race, ethnicity, language, abilities or religion. We therefore have to treat each other with dignity: respectfully, peacefully and with love. All violence against LGBT people is an expression of evil. . . . .
“We encourage religious leaders and people of faith to refrain from all words or actions that might support violence against LGBT people and to create, within their communities, safe spaces for encounter, consultation and dialogue.
“We recognise that there are times in our own faith communities when the dignity of LGBT people is sometimes violated. We regret this deeply.”
In addition to the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, the other organizers of this campaign are Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives, A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, Global Justice Institute of the Metropolitan Community Churches, and European Network on Religion and Belief.
Please sign the Declaration and share this blog post with your family and friends who are people of faith. Most importantly, share it with your pastors and other religious leaders! You can promote this campaign online by using online campaign by using the hashtag #inclusivefaith and following the campaign’s Twitter account @christianslgbt.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, May 2, 2017