NEWS NOTES: Malta Receives Top LGBT Rights Score; Poland May Elect Gay Atheist as President; and More

Here are some international news items that you may find of interest:

1. The highly-Catholic nation of Malta was ranked first among the 49 European countries rated by ILGA-Europe, an LGBT rights organization, reported The Economist. In recent years, Malta has banned conversion therapy, recognized same-gender relationships, and been the “gold standard” on transgender rights. To read Bondings 2.0’s coverage of Malta’s journey towards greater LGBT equality, click here.

2. In a new pastoral plan released this May, Mexico’s bishops renewed their commitment to accompany the nation’s people in a style mirroring Pope Francis. According to the National Catholic Reporter, the plan includes a promise to be “an inclusive church, where people are welcomed with mercy,” including lesbian and gay people.

3. Slovakia’s Inakost’ (Otherness) Initiative recently published the nation’s largest survey of LGBT people, reported The Slovak Spectator. The survey found that more than half of the respondents cited religion as important to them, including one-third of all respondents who remain Roman Catholic in the conservative, Catholic-dominated nation.

4. Scotland’s Catholic bishops objected to a BBC Scotland video, titled “Homophobia in 2018, Time for Love.” Bishop John Keenan of Paisley wrote to the broadcast corporation about a scene in the film which says the Eucharist, portrayed as a cheese cracker, is said to “tastes like cardboard and smells like hate.” Keenan said it was wrong to infer that Catholicism is the “root of the problem” when it comes to homophobia. The BBC expressed regret some Catholics had been offended, and a meeting between the Corporation and  Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh is scheduled for later this year.

5. Robert Biedron, a gay atheist who is running for president of the highly-Catholic nation of Poland,  is now considered a leading candidate, reported World Religion NewsBiedron is currently mayor of Slupsk near the Baltic Sea, and was the country’s first openly gay member of Parliament. In polling, he is ranked as the third highest candidate for the 2020 elections and as a leader of progressive opposition to the country’s right-wing, Catholic-rooted Law and Justice Party that is now in power.

6. Addressing France’s bishops earlier this spring, the nation’s president Emmanuel Macron, a Catholic, suggested the Church has supported non-traditional families, including LGBT ones, reported LGBTQ Nation. Church leaders in France have actively opposed marriage equality, and fomented allegedly grassroots movements against LGBT rights in the past. LGBT advocates criticized Macron’s comment, with one organization calling the president’s words “shocking, hurtful, inappropriate.”

Robert  Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 23, 2018

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