Incitement to Hatred is a Criminal Offence

p style=”text-align: justify;”>Hatred in any form brings consequences. In Uganda, the continual stirring of hatred by some religious groups have culminated in the murder of David Kato. In Arizona, careless language during last year’s election campaign may have contributed to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. During last year’s NOM bus tour in the US, a picture of a  man with a poster showing an image of a noose and calling for death to gays drew widespread comment – but no penalties.

In the UK, incitement to hatred, including homophobic hatred, is explicitly prohibited by law. This week, a total of five men were arrested and charged with the offence of incitement to hatred – the first ever to be charged under this legislation. All five will appear in court on February 14th.

Pair charged with stirring up homophobic hatred

Two men from Derby have been charged with stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It is the first such prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force in March 2010.

Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, will appear before magistrates on Friday.

The charges relate to a leaflet, The Death Penalty?, which was distributed outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July last year.

The leaflets were also posted through letterboxes in the city.

Mr Javed and Mr Ahmed have both been charged with distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Sue Hemming said: “This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.

“Following complaints from the public, Derbyshire Police mounted a thorough investigation.

“We have carefully reviewed the evidence provided by the police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge these men.”

 

David Kato: A New Ugandan Martyr

In June each year, the Church remembers a group of Ugandan martyrs, in the feast of Charles Lwangwa and companions. This week, we as queer Christians have new Ugandan martyr to remember, in David Kanto, an openly gay church worker who was brutally murdered in a clearly homophobic attack. While we mourn his death, we should at the same time pause to reflect on both sets of deaths, and on the role of the Christian churches in fomenting African homophobia, in colonial times and in the modern world.

Charles Lwangwa and companions were a group of young pages to the king of Buganda who converted to Christianity. Encouraged by the local missionaries, they resisted the sexual advances of their royal master. For this act of treason (in the eyes of the king and the Buganda court), they were executed. For this courageous martyrdom (as the missionaries saw it), they were later canonized as saints.

This week, David Kanto was murdered.

 

David Kato, Martyr

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm.  Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

extract from public statement by Sexual Minorities Uganda

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals.  David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.

 

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Discrimination: Homophobia, or a Christian Duty?

In the eyes of the British courts, the answer is clear:discrimination against lesbian or gay people is against the law, and religious freedom is not a justification for denying equal treatment to all.

In a British example, one married couple who run a Cornish B&B refused to allow another married couple who had booked accommodation to share a double bed, insisting that their religious convictions did not permit them to accept unmarried couples. Their would-be guests,  Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, are both male, and so technically are “civil partners”, not conventionally married. In the eyes of the law however, there is no distinction, as the judge made clear to the defendants, Peter and Hazelmary Bull. He said that he fully accepted the sincerity of their beliefs, but that the law did not permit them to discriminate, and awarded Hall and Preddy £1800 damages each. Expect howls of outrage from the religious right, who will complain once again that Christians are being discriminated against, and that religion is being marginalised in this “secular” society.

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“Gay advocates win victory at U.N.” – Salon

“Gay people are a minority group in need of special protection from unjustified killings,” revised resolution says

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS:

U.N. member states have restored a reference to sexual orientation that was dropped amid much controversy last month from a resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.

The removal of the reference, done at the committee level last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified killings.

The assembly on Tuesday voted 93 in favor of the United States’ proposal to restore the previous language, with 55 countries against and 27 abstaining. The assembly then approved the amended resolution 122 in favor, with 0 votes against, and 59 abstentions.

*******

Thanks, US, for making the proposal.

Penitential Walk, Repenting for Past Homophobia.

Slowly, the message is getting through. It is not homoeroticism that is sinful and contrary to the Gospels, but homophobia and prejudice. In some cases the movement is dramatic, manifested in dramatic decisions that impact on entire denominations – but sometimes, the movement is purely personal, directly affecting only one or two lives.

Symon Hill is one of those in the latter category, who once actively opposed LGBT inclusion in church. Over the years, he has modified his views, and is now appalled by his former actions. He is quite clear that it was the influence of misguided religious teaching that influenced his homophobia in the first place – he had no problem with homosexuality or bisexuality before he became a Christian, but thereafter modified his earlier open-mindedness to “fit in” more easily.

However, after grappling with the subject with prayer, and scripture study, he found what many others have done, who have approached the subject with an open mind, and sufficient effort in study – it is not homoeroticism that is sinful, but homophobia:

I had no problem with homosexuality or bisexuality before I became a Christian. But I chose to support a narrow homophobic position, partly out of a desire to fit in at the church I had joined. I stifled doubts about the flimsiness of the arguments used to back up hostility to same-sex relationships. Although that church played an important role in guiding me towards Christ, I am now convinced they were severely mistaken about sexuality.

I have struggled for years with issues of sexuality – through prayer, reflection, personal experience and of course through reading the Bible. And I have come to the conclusion that it is not homosexuality, but homophobia, that is sinful and contrary to the Gospel of Christ.

My homophobia caused direct harm to several people. My support for policies that excluded gay, lesbian and bisexual people from churches contributed to the harm caused to many others.

-from Ekklesia

 

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What Part of the Gospels, Bishop Soto, is “Hard for Gays to Accept?”

An interview with Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, published in the Sacramento News and Review, neatly illustrates the muddled thinking and selective morality we so often hear from bishops and other spokesmen for Catholic orthodoxy. In a wide-ranging interview,  Jeff von Kaenel engaged the bishop in discussion on a slew of questions that in his view, many loyal Catholics who are troubled by selected elements of Church doctrine or practice would like to put to him if they had a chance:  on the reasons so many people are simply turning away from participation in the sacramental life of the church,  on the strict prohibition on women’s ordination, on abortion and contraception, on homosexuality, on clerical abuse.

The response on homosexuality is revealing:

von Kaenel: Is there a welcome mat out to our gay readers who grew up Catholic?

Soto: The welcome mat is definitely out, because the good news of the Gospel is for everyone. And I think it is good news, and I think it is a message of hope for everyone. I recognize that for many gay people, as well as others, that there are certain parts of the Gospel that are hard to accept. I still encourage people to come hear us, to come be part of the community life, be part of a parish, because I do believe that the Gospel is persuasive, and I do believe that we have a message that gives hope and a message that saves. It’s important for us, as it was important for Jesus, to leave the door open so that people can hear us and know us and make their decision as to whether they can walk with us.

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US Nuns Are Revolting – at Bishops’ Double Standards.

In yet another demonstration that Catholics today are no longer content to simply sit back and pray, pay and disobey, a group of US nuns have openly criticized the USCCB over its double standards on homosexuality. On the one hand, they repeatedly condemn progress towards legal recognition for same-sex relationships, or protection from legal discrimination, while on the other hand they studiously refrain from comment on the problems of homophobia and bullying directed at gay students, even in Catholic schools.

This kind of open criticism of Church leadership would have been unthinkable just a few years ago – but is very much to be welcomed.

http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/11/18/nuns-blast-bishops-over-gay-teen-suicide/

National Coalition of American Nuns:

Nuns to Bishops: Condemn Bullying, not Marriage Equality

On behalf of GLBT Catholics, their families and friends, and thoughtful Catholics across the United States, the National Coalition of American Nuns is appalled at the lack of sensitivity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to lesbian and gay persons.

More than a month has gone by since the media broke the news about a series of gay suicides. During that time, the US Catholic Bishops failed to make a single statement regarding these tragic, preventable deaths. Not one bishop’s voice was raised to condemn a culture where youths are bullied for being who God created them to be and are sometimes pushed by society’s judgments to attempt suicide. Many people have accused certain segments of organized religion, including the Catholic hierarchy, of fueling these attacks and contributing to suicides.

The annual meeting in Baltimore of the US Catholic Bishops this week offered an opportunity to decry these horrendous events. Instead, the bishops have chosen to discuss “the defense of marriage,” their well-funded attack on same-gender couples.

Like blinded Pharisees, they fail to see that the Catholic community is embarrassed by their silence in the face of brutality and incensed by their push of a political agenda against marriage equality—all at a time when their credibility on sexual matters is at a record low.

The bishops have not learned from the Minnesota experience, where Catholics returned the anti-gay DVD’s the hierarchy sent to each household in the state. The anger of Minnesota Catholics is erupting all across our country. Faithful Catholics believe their bishops should be preaching a message of concern and understanding, instead of rejection and hate.

The National Coalition of American Nuns calls on all US Catholics to rise up and say, “Enough, enough! No more discriminatory rhetoric and repressive measures from men who lay heavy burdens on the shoulders of others and do not lift one finger of human kindness and compassion.

(I found this statement at Bridget Mary’s Blog)

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