Churches speak out against anti-gay violence

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Dutch churches have today signed a statement condemning violence against homosexuals. The ceremony took place in the Dom Church in Utrecht and marked International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (17 May).

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The theme of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is religion. Wielie Elhorst, from the LKP umbrella organisation for Dutch gay Christian groups, says he thinks religion influences mental and physical violence against homosexuals the world over.

“For instance, a priest fled to London from Latvia because he was openly gay. The threats were so bad that he couldn’t deal with the situation anymore. Another example comes from Belgrade, where there’s a priest blessing people who beat up gays.”

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God’s image
The Dutch churches’ statement reads:

“Although we are not in complete agreement about homosexuality, we are one in the belief that man is created in God’s image and is valuable in His eyes. That is why people should treat each other with dignity – be respectful, peaceful and loving – and why violence against homosexuals, in any form whatsoever, is evil.”

The Netherlands has long had a leading role in the fight for gay rights. But, in Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, two politicians argue that this is no longer the case.

“The European parliament supports the protection of homosexuals and transgenders who flee to Europe because of violence or persecution. However, the member states can decide for themselves whether or not to acknowledge homosexuality and transgenderism as grounds for asylum. A number of states (including the Netherlands) say that homosexuals in Iran are not in danger as long as they keep their sexuality hidden.”

World
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is also in the spotlight outside Europe. Countries differ radically when it comes to the emancipation of homosexuals: While people in the United States celebrate being gay at 'pink parties', people in Uganda are relieved to hear that a parliamentary vote on the introduction of a death penalty for being homosexual has - for the time being - been cancelled.

(mw/rk)