Lessons From Latin America

Coming as I do from South Africa where I was born and lived for over half a century, I am acutely aware of the White South African tendency to think, speak and write from within a White mental framework, even as they live and work in an overwhelmingly Black country. South Africa though is in some key respects a remarkable microcosm of the world as a whole, and this is one of them: when we in the blogosphere write, many of us do so with a clear mental bias to the USA and Europe, paying scant attention to the remarkable advances elsewhere, notably in Latin America.

Pride Parade, Brazil

How do we explain this paradox of rapid political gains in a region where open intolerance and clear homophobia remain entrenched? What can we learn? Writing in Americas Quarterly (and reprinted at Huffpost, where I came acr0ss it) Javier Corrales has some thoughts on the political processes, which I will get to. First, I want to reflect on the significance to us in the Churches, that he is referring here to Latin America, the home of liberation theology. Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage Equality: In Europe, a Human Right?

I have shown before how marriage equality has been spreading relentlessly across Europe, but in some cases (as in the UK), this takes the form of strong civil unions rather than full marriage. There are also a few countries, notable staunchly Catholic Italy and Poland, which are holding out. This could change.

(Dark blue – full marriage; light blue – civil unions; yellow – legislation in preparation; red – prohibited.)

The European Union has been drawing ever more closely together politically, and in the field of human rights. As some British conservatives have found to their costs, there have been numerous cases where European human rights directives have forced changes in British law. Now, an Austrian couple have taken their fight for the right to marry to the European Court of human Rights. On the face of it, the prospects are good. The court has a good record on LGBT rights, and the parameters are clear: human rights are defined to guarantee both the right to marry, and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of orientation.

“Their European case argues that in refusing them a marriage license, Austria violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantee the rights to marry, protect one’s property and not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.” Read the rest of this entry »