Saturday, 25 June 2011

Georgia and beyond: Bigotry by religious leaders - Council of Europe report

Negative attitudes towards LGBT persons are also shaped by religious beliefs, such as that LGBT persons are sinful and acting against religious teaching. Such arguments draw upon a particular interpretation of religion to support the view that LGBT persons are detrimental to religion or religious believers. This report found many examples of such statements by influential religious leaders, as well as opinion leaders. In 2010, before a debate in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on a report focusing on LGBT human rights, different religious communities in Georgia collaboratively protested about “abnormalities, such as homosexuality, bisexuality and other sexual perversions, that are considered not only by Christianity but also by all other traditional religions as the greatest sin, causing degeneration and physical and mental illnesses”. [Joint written statement by the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Holy See to Georgia, Head of the Georgian Eparchy of the Armenian Apostle Church, Acting Chief Rabbi of Georgia and the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Caucasian Muslims’ Organisation in Georgia, 29 January 2010.]

However, while many religious leaders brand homosexuality as immoral and issue warnings of a demographic threat, others, like Archbishop Desmund Tutu, have highlighted that combating discrimination against LGBT persons is a matter of ordinary justice: “We struggled against apartheid in South Africa because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality.”

*Read also: Groundbreaking Council of Europe report issues ‘red cards’ to many member states, incl. Armenia, for failing gay rights

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