A technology company has withdrawn its participation in the World Meeting of Families (WMF) because of the exclusion of LGBT groups, prompting calls for other organizations to do likewise as the event gets underway today.
Talita Holzer, co-founder of waytoB, announced on Twitter the company’s decision to withdraw from WMF, which begins this week in Dublin and will conclude with a papal visit next weekend:
“We have decided to withdraw ourselves from the World Meeting of Families, after learning they’ve denied LGBT+ groups a paid stand claiming lack of space, and then offered selected groups (including
@waytoB_) a free stand. I hope others do too.'”
Holzer explained the reasons behind the withdrawal to GCN:
“‘We were approached by email about 2 weeks ago. They were looking for groups for their ‘Tech Zone’ and they offered us free space to showcase waytoB during the 3-day event. . .As part of the LGBT+ community myself, I would never take advantage of this opportunity while LGBT+ groups were discriminated against.
“‘I felt it would be completely unfair to take advantage of this opportunity while groups like We Are Church Ireland and The Global Network Rainbow Catholics were denied a paid stand in the event. I immediately sent a message to my co-founder saying I’d like to withdraw waytoB from the event, and he supported me fully.'”
Earlier this summer, news broke that the two groups, We Are Church Ireland and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, had been denied exhibitor space. We Are Church founder Brendan Butler wrote about the group’s ongoing efforts to exhibit at WMF, commenting:
“The Pope’s visit will be a public relations success for the organisers of this World Meeting of Families with plenty of razzmatazz and euphoria but unless the non inclusive attitude of the church, as exhibited by the organisers, is radically reformed then the Irish catholic church will continue in its decline.”
Justin McAleese, who is a married gay man and the son of former Irish president Mary McAleese, tweeted in response to Holzer’s announcement:
@waytoB_ for standing in solidarity with the #LGBT community. The discriminatory and no #gays need apply approach that @WMOF2018 appear to be following needs to be challenged at every turn. Will others follow?”
McAleese is an Irish legislator and, along with his mother who is a prominent church reformer, marched in Dublin’s Pride parade earlier this summer under the theme “We Are Family.”
For months, WMF 2018 has been mired in LGBT-related controversies despite organizers’ claims it will be an inclusive event. Now that the event is underway, time is running out to change organizers’ LGBT-negative record. It is unlikely more companies and participants will withdraw at this late date. But opening up the exhibit hall to We Are Church Ireland and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics would be an immediate step towards making this Meeting far more inclusive than meetings past.
For Bondings 2.0’s ongoing coverage of the World Meeting of Families from Dublin, subscribe to the blog using the sign-up box in the upper right hand corner of this page. You can view past news by clicking the “World Meeting of Families” category to the right or by clicking here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 21, 2018