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Dignity Canada Dignité

 

February 27, 2014

The Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher
President
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
2500 Don Reid Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 2J2

Dear Archbishop Durocher:

Re: Recent Draconian Legislation towards LGBT Persons in Christian Countries Overseas

 

As a person of faith, I am deeply distressed and concerned to learn of the anti-homosexuality legislation that has recently been adopted in Russia, Nigeria and Uganda.  Our Catholic faith teaches that every person is made in the image of God, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

                                       

It appears that many politicians who voted for the oppressive legislation want to protect their children from becoming homosexual.  They are acting under the assumption that sexual orientation is chosen or that it can be forced onto a young person.  Simply, this is unfounded fear-mongering.  Studies have in fact concluded that sexual orientation is inborn and relationships with the opposite sex do not have a significant impact.  This conclusion is supported by many professional organizations worldwide, such as the American Psychiatric Association.

 

Passage of the anti-homosexuality legislation will rip the very fabric of communities, turning families against themselves.  Our faith demands we stand with these countries’ sexual minority communities rather than use our religion to justify their persecution.  Silencing and criminalizing any group based on whom they love or how they express their sexuality offends our very moral fibre.  It breaks a core teaching of many faith traditions: that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

 

Pope Benedict XVI was firmly opposed to legislation that singles out people with same-sex attraction for persecution.  A Vatican representative made the following statement to a panel on anti-gay violence at the United Nations in 2009:

 

“The Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.  The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.

 

The murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State.  While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth."

 

As you know, Pope Francis has reinforced the Church’s teaching that LGBT persons are to be treated with compassion, respect and sensitivity.  Mob violence, torture and extensive incarceration are not Christian values in how to treat sexual minorities.

 

The offensive legislation in these countries clearly conflicts with the values expressed by the Vatican and held deeply by faithful Catholics.  Belonging to a gay organization, advocating gay rights and providing condoms or safe-sex advice to gays and lesbians to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS could result in long prison sentences.  In Uganda, anyone who knows a gay or lesbian person that expresses their sexuality at all and does not report them to the authorities puts himself or herself at risk of incarceration.  The confidentiality required in a pastoral relationship is impossible under these conditions.

 

On February 23rd, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in South Africa remarked:

"We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste, and race.  But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love.  There is only the grace of God.  There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever.  And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts."

Some 40 percent of Ugandans are Catholic, and the church wields significant influence there.  In Nigeria, about 15 percent of the citizens are Catholic.  As Catholics, we are compelled to raise our voices on behalf of those who bear a possibly lethal burden as these measures have now become law.  Mob violence (that is often ignored by police) and suicides have both risen dramatically since the legislation was adopted.

I urge you to condemn the criminalization of homosexuality, especially state-sponsored violence against homosexual persons, their friends and families.  In the name of Christian charity and respect for all of God's children, I call upon you to contact your brother bishops in Uganda, Russia and Nigeria to urge them to oppose this legislation and exert whatever influence they have in order to repeal this needless, deeply harmful, dehumanizing legislation.  Here in Canada, I would also ask the CCCB to do what it can to expedite the acceptance of LGBT refugees from overseas.

 

Respectfully,

 

Frank Testin

President

Dignity Canada Dignité

www.dignitycanada.org

president@dignitycanada.org

647-978-7805

 
Dignity Canada Dignité is Canada's organization of Roman Catholics who are concerned about our church's sexual theology, particularly as it pertains to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. We work in collaboration with other Catholic organizations seeking reform in our church's leadership and teachings.