Officials at a Catholic university in France are investigating students who attacked LGBTQ campaigners during the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). The incident took ple while Catholics in other European countries joined in affirming commemorations of the day.
A dozen students from the ICES Vendée Catholic University attacked two LGBTQ advocates who had set up a table to mark IDAHOBIT in the center of La Roche-sur-Yon. The students, who wore the logo of a French anti-marriage equality group, shouted “Enough of gay love!” and physically threatened the activists staffing the table. La Croix reported further:
“An investigation has been opened and a dozen students from ICES were questioned by police on May 21.
“ICES director Eric de Labarre condemned the attack, describing it as a ‘brutal act which fortunately did not result in major injury or substantial material damage.’
“Labarre said his institution is sometimes ‘spoiled by a radical minority, a handful of very political students who share extreme right views.’ He added that he and most of his team ‘have always promoted healthy dialogue and constructive debate.’. . .
“ICES said it will take firm action. As well as legal proceedings, the 12 students will face an internal disciplinary hearing on May 28 that could result in them being expelled from the university.”
Gay Star News reported that anti-LGBTQ violence in France was up 66% in 2018.
Meanwhile, Catholic communities in several European countries marked IDAHOBIT with prayer vigils. In Italy, Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo led an ecumenical service and the Kairos LGBT Catholic group in Florence hosted a Mass. Christian events occurred in nearly a dozen other Italian cities, too, reported Progetto Gionata. At several of these vigils, a new leaflet on being the Christian parent of an LGBTQ child was made available.
IDAHOBIT vigils also occurred at least in four Spanish cities, in Malta, and in Budapest, Hungary.
It is heartening to see Church officials, like ICES’ president and the several Italian bishops have led IDAHOBIT vigils over the years, taking a clear stand against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence. Church teaching is clear there is no justification for such acts, but Church leaders’ record on publicly opposing them has been troublingly mixed. With anti-LGBTQ violence rising not only in France, but in the U.S. and other countries, the need for more Church officials to take a public stand is obvious. There is now a year until IDAHOBIT occurs again. Hopefully, the list of Christian vigils and services will be much longer in 2020.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 26, 2019