Appeal to Pope Benedict XVI: LGBT Christians ask for defense of human rights.
On June 10, 2011, the "European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups" sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI asking for respect of the human rights and the personal integrity of LGBT people. They appealed to the Pope for a clear statement against homophobic violence, calling on the church to grant LGBT people the fundamental right to get involved in a relationship with a beloved other without being afraid of negative consequences.
The European Forum represents 44 Christian LGBT member groups from 23 European countries. Originally initiated by the Polish group "Faith and Rainbow," the letter was approved by the Forum's Annual General Meeting in May 2011. The letter was presented to the public at the Europride conference in Rome, "Homosexual and Transsexual People and Christian Churches in Europe: Fears and Opportunities for Full Acceptance and Inclusion," organized by the Italian member group "Nuova Proposta" in cooperation with the European Forum.
From: European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups
To: His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
The Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City State
Dear Holy Father
LGBT CHRISTIANS APPEAL TO YOUR HOLINESS TO PAY ATTENTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS
We appeal to Your Holiness to condemn acts of violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people, and to Your Holiness' co-operation in lifting the penalization of homosexual acts worldwide.
Silence from Your Holiness is interpreted by people engaged in violence, torture, and murder as consent to their actions. For example, in January 2011, David Kato, an activist for the rights of LGBT people, was brutally murdered in Uganda. Violence, torture, and murder of LGBT people happen often in various parts of the world, and the perpetrators are often convinced that they comply with the will of the Catholic Church. This belief is compounded by the fact that in December 2008, the Holy See refused to support the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity. This declaration included a paragraph calling upon states to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.
Furthermore, we appeal to Your Holiness to provide clear information to all Christians concerning the passages of the Bible that are used to justify these abhorrent actions. As with the passages supporting slavery, the verses advocating the killing of persons engaged in same-sex sexual activity must not be interpreted literally.
There is still pressure from some Roman Catholic clergy on LGBT Christians to undergo "reparative therapy" in order to change their sexual orientation. This strategy--in addition to the official Church demand for LGBT people to live in sexual abstinence--results in many life tragedies including suicides and severe forms of depression as people try to be obedient to the Church's teachings and to follow them heroically.
However, according to modern studies in psychiatry and psychology, sexual orientation cannot be changed and any such attempts usually lead to serious psychological damage. Also, a celibate life cannot be demanded from people who are not personally called to it. LGBT Christians cannot be denied their fundamental right for a relationship with a beloved person, regardless of gender.
As science has testified that homosexuality is a variant of sexuality, we appeal that this scientific knowledge is included in the teaching of the Church. Consequently, we appeal to Your Holiness to make sure that it is no longer preached that homosexual people must undergo therapy, but that they are entitled to pursue their lives in a loving and faithful relationship.
The personal and social benefits are: a happy life, mental health, ability to work fruitfully and to support others. Otherwise, life often turns into a sad existence, marked by a series of unsuccessful psychological and psychiatric therapies as well as loss of belief in God, humanity, and love as is frequently described in letters and testimonies of LGBT Christians.
Worldwide, many lesbian, gay, and transgender people live in relationships rooted in love, fidelity, and mutual interest. Just like in mature heterosexual relationships, love is, first, a spiritual experience and, second, a physical one. Unfortunately, due to stigmatization and lack of knowledge, many people associate the concept of homosexuality only with physical love.
Referring to the statement of Your Holiness from December 2008 about the protection of humanity like a tropical forest in an ecosystem, we can say that LGBT people are a less common species but one that is permanently represented in the ecosystem. As we know, every species is important and needed to ensure the balance of God's creation.
We appeal to Your Holiness to reconsider the Church's position on same-sex and transgender relationships and to support these relationships as accepted and blessed by the Church. We appeal to Your Holiness to cease urging Catholics to vote against the law authorizing same-sex relationships.
Same-sex and transgender relationships are not dangerous to traditional families but, in fact, support and enhance marriage and family values. LGBT people constitute a small percentage of each population, and their number remains constant.
The lack of acceptance of young LGBT people both in their families and by the Church almost always causes problems in the development of their personalities. The effects are often dramatic and are seen in people's desperate attempts to enter heterosexual marriages or to disguise their sexual orientation and attempt to live in a seminary or monastery, though not necessarily because of personal vocation.
For these reasons, creating a safe and friendly atmosphere for "coming out" is important for each society.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual persons should be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Respect and sensitivity should be given to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. If this were truly the case, then compassion would not be necessary. Homophobic behavior and opinions are especially painful when perpetrated by Christians, both clergy and laity, and are not in keeping with showing respect.
(Co-Presidents of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Christian Groups on behalf of the member Groups).
The European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups: Urgerplein street 16-b n1-3033 bv--Rotterdam (The Netherlands)--http://www.euroforumlgbt-christians.eu
Members: Adverta Evangeliska Draudze (Latvia), The Anglican Clergy Consultation (UK), Arcus (Finland), Associacio Cristiana de Gais i Lesbianes de Catalunya (ACGIL) (Spain), AG (Arbeitsgemeinschaft) Schwule Theologie e.V. (Germany), "C+H" (Chretien(ne)s et Homosexuel(le)s, Geneva (Switzerland), Changing Attitude (UK), Church of St Cornelius (Ukraine), CooL (Christliche Organisation von Lesben), (Switzerland), Courage (UK), La Communaute du Christ Liberateur (Belgium), David & Jonathan (France), Drachma (Malta), Riks EKHO (Sweden), Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians (UK), Faith and Rainbow (Poland), FELGBT-The Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (Spain), Gei Kristlaste Kogu (Estonia), Gruppo del Guado, (Italy), Gionata (Italy), Gruppo Varco-Refo (Italy), HomoDiversus (Moldova), Homosexuelle und Glaube, Wien (HUG) (Austria), HuK (Germany), Labrystheia, Netzwerk Lesbischer Theologinnen in und nach der Ausbildung (Germany), Landelijk Koordinatie Punt groepen kerk en homoseksualiteit, (Netherlands), Lesben und Kirche, Okumenische Arbeits gemeinschaft (Germany), Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (UK), Lesbische und Schwule Basiskirche Basel (Switzerland), Light of the World (Russia), Maria und Martha Netzwerk, (Germany), Metropolitan Community Church, European District region 4, Metropolitan Community Church Region 5 (Romania), Netwerk Mirre (Nederlands), Netzwerk Katholischer Lesben (Germany), Nuova Proposta (Italy), Open Church Group (Norway), Projekt Schwul und Katholisch in der Gemeinde Maria Hilf or PSK Maria Hilf, Frankfurt (Germany), Quest (UK), Roman Catholic Caucus in the LGCM (UK), We for Civil Equality (Armenia), Werkverband van Homotheologen (WHT) (Netherlands), Werkverband van Katholieke Homo--Pastores (WKHP) (Netherlands), Zwischenraum (Switzerland).
God bless Your Holiness