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Archive for the ‘Global Justice News’ Category

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Senate and House leadership

Dear Congressman/Senator:

 

We are writing to express our strong support for legislation that would enhance the United States anti-trafficking policy by upgrading the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau. We represent members of both the current and previous President Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As members of the current President’s Advisory Council, we studied the issue of domestic and international trafficking for most of the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama.  One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to a Bureau.

Our April 2013 Report states: “The Council appreciates and acknowledges not only the diplomacy and monitoring carried out by J/TIP, but the level of expertise and innovation the Office brings to the anti-trafficking movement.  This Council believes that it is vitally important that the State Department’s J/TIP be elevated to a State Department Bureau, on equal footing with the Regional Bureaus and other priority issues for this Administration. Making J/TIP a Bureau would improve collaboration with the Regional Bureaus, Embassies, and international interlocutors.”

We are grateful that legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to upgrade the Office to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.  This simple redesignation, which does not involve additional bureaucracy or expense, will give J/TIP and its leadership access to the Secretary of State and parity with regional Assistant Secretaries. This upgrade is required for the issue of slavery eradication to receive the attention it requires.

As leaders of faith based and community organizations, we respectfully urge you to support this legislation, which sharpens the United States’ most precious diplomatic tool.  The men and women who staff and lead the J/TIP Office are the nation’s leading experts on modern day slavery.  While we understand that anti-trafficking concerns will sometimes be preempted by other U.S. interests, we believe that it is essential that J/TIP’s leadership have a seat at the table where key decisions on diplomacy and strategy are being developed and implemented.

We respectfully urge you to support H.R. 2283, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith in the House and S._____, companion legislation in the Senate that is sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal.

For information, please contact Allison Hollobaugh, and Joel Cohen, .

Sincerely,

 

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Policy Link

Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

Lynne Hybels, Co-founder, Willow Creek Community Church

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church

Miaohong Hsiangju Liu, Buddha’s Light International Association

Maria Nagorski, Executive Director, Fair Chance DC

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Assembly

Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Elder Steven Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Susan K. Stern, Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Past President, Leadership Council of Women Religious

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

Dr. Arturo Chavez, President, Mexican American Catholic College

The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches of Christ-USA

Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Nancy Ratzan, Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners

The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only

Faith-Based Council Members sign-on to letter re ending human trafficking – Secretary of State Kerry

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington DC

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to express our strong support for current legislation that would enhance the United States anti-trafficking policy by upgrading the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.

We represent members of both the current and previous President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As members of the current President’s Advisory Council, we studied the issue of domestic and international trafficking for the past year and issued a report with recommendations to President Obama.  One of the recommendations was to upgrade the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a Bureau.

Our April 2013 Report states: “The Council appreciates and acknowledges not only the diplomacy and monitoring carried out by J/TIP, but the level of expertise and innovation the Office brings to the anti-trafficking movement.  This Council believes that it is vitally important that the State Department’s J/TIP be elevated to a State Department Bureau, on equal footing with the Regional Bureaus and other priority issues for this Administration. Making J/TIP a Bureau would improve collaboration with the Regional Bureaus, Embassies, and international interlocutors.”

We are grateful that legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate entitled, “The Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” to upgrade the Office to a State Department Bureau headed by an Assistant Secretary of State.  This simple redesignation, which does not involve additional bureaucracy or expense, will give J/TIP and its leadership access to the Secretary of State and parity with regional Assistant Secretaries. This upgrade is required for the issue of slavery eradication to receive the attention it requires.

As leaders of faith based and community organizations, we respectfully urge you to support this legislation, which sharpens the United States’ most precious diplomatic tool.  The men and women who staff and lead the J/TIP Office are the nation’s leading experts on modern day slavery.  While we understand that anti-trafficking concerns may sometimes be preempted by other U.S. interests, we believe that it is essential that J/TIP’s leadership have a seat at the table where key decisions on diplomacy and strategy are being developed and implemented.

We respectfully urge you to take any action in your authority to elevate the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau.

Sincerely,

 

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, Policy Link

Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

Lynne Hybels, Co-founder, Willow Creek Community Church

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church

Miaohong Hsiangju Liu, Buddha’s Light International Association

Maria Nagorski, Executive Director, Fair Chance DC

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Assembly

Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Elder Steven Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Susan K. Stern, Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Past President, Leadership Council of Women Religious

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

Dr. Arturo Chavez, President, Mexican American Catholic College

The Reverend Canon Peg Chemberlin, Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches of Christ-USA

Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Nancy Ratzan, Immediate Past President, National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners

The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only

MCC stands in solidarity with ICM Brasil – Igrejas da Comunidade Metropolitana do Brasil and everyone in Brazil.

Dear leaders, members and friends of the Metropolitan Community Churches in Brazil:

In this important moment of mobilization in Brazil ,I would like to express my solidarity with you and my support of the demands being expressed at the protests throughout the country. Those valuable acts of courage make me feel proud of our people, our brothers and sisters in Brazil. I would love to be there with you to march, requesting not only for “Circuses” (Confederations Cup) to be offered but also for “bread” to be a reality for all (respect and dignity for indigenous peoples, sexual minorities, Afro-Brazilians, the Landless Workers) and to be available on every table and in every household.

Much more that the $0.20 increase in transportation fares is at stake in Brazil. People’s social unrest must be expressed, heard, respected. It shall not be silenced. Governments’ betrayals (independently of their political party) shouldn’t be tolerated by the people anymore.

As an Elder at the Metropolitan Community Churches, I demand in God’s name that the requests and demands of our beloved Brazilian peoples be answered. Brazil is much more than the World Cup. Brazil is much more than the Olympic Games organization that only benefits a few. Now is the the time for Brazil to take the lead, to make itself heard with a strong voice in the world, to demand a government that works with and for the people, not to benefit from them.

Dear Brazilian men and women, the whole world is looking at you, our hearts going to you in solidarity. Your legitimate demands will be able to create a Brazil that can help, support and treat with dignity and respect each and every one of its inhabitants. No one and nothing can stop you from protesting, for demanding that Brazil for which you have fought so hard to build, that so many men and women have worked for to make the country a place of human rights building a more human nation.

We trust that President Dilma’s government will be able to keep up with this historical moment that you are living as a courageous and brave people.

I want our MCC Churches in Brazil to know that during the protests on Thursday, each and every one of our leaders, members and friends will be with you, thinking about you, praying for you, and following any developments.

Another world is possible, a new Brazil is possible, too.

My solidarity and prayers are always with you.

Blessings,

Rev. Hector Gutierrez

MCC Elder

Supreme Court Defends First Amendment Rights Engaged in the Fight Against AIDS For U.S. Organizations

Today, six justices of the Supreme Court of the United States issued the majority  decision in Agency for International Development, et al. –v- Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. et al., finding that federal agencies mandating that organizations receiving government funding for the global fight against AIDS must hold the same opinion as the United States government to qualify for funding.

Responding  to the escalating pandemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the Congress of the United States passed the “United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003,” allocating billions of dollars to fund non-governmental organizations around the globe in multi-faceted efforts to increase access to treatment, offer supportive care, train health care workers, accelerate research and reduce at-risk behaviors.   As part of efforts designed to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, at that time the fourth highest cause of death in the world,  legislators recognized sex trafficking as a factor in the escalation of the disease.

Congress charged the Department of Health and Human Services {HHS} and the United States Agency for International Development {USAID} with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the 2003 funding Act.  The agencies then developed protocol that required recipient agencies, in effect, to adopt the United States government’s position opposing prostitution and sex trafficking as a policy statement in order to qualify for funding.   Agencies of the United Nations, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Health Organization were exempted from the regulation.

The Alliance for an Open Society and others  challenged that requirement based on the first amendment right in the United States guaranteeing freedom of speech and the right to hold opinions and policies at odds with those favored by the government.

“The Supreme Court decision today,” said The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, “represents a victory for all those engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  The issue is not whether any of us who have long worked in this battle are promoting particular behaviors,  but rather our ability to reach those most in need of safe space and compassionate care. “

“The decision today prevents the U.S. government from telling people what they must say in cases where being judgmental may well determine whether individuals most at risk get the help they need in either remaining HIV-negative or managing their health status in a life-affirming way,” added The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair of the Moderator’s Public Policy Team.  “We serve in a movement of faith founded on the teachings of a man who cautioned against judgment,” she added, “and who proclaimed that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter heaven before many others.  Today, at least, they will be free to enter the offices of agencies around the globe who can offer them the information and health care access critical to saving their lives now.”

This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team of

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.

For more information, contact The Rev. Pat Bumgardner .

Historic LGBT Church Leaders Condemn Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

“Russian tradition needs to meet universal human rights standards”

 

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in over 40 countries.  Dr. Wilson was part of the first LGBT faith delegation to meet with a sitting president in 1979.  She is currently a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

 

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute publicly and firmly condemn the adoption of a federal law in the Russian Parliament that bans so-called “non-traditional sexual relations” and which mandates fines and jail terms for people convicted of sharing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) “propaganda.”

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, said:

“Tradition is not about an idyllic past, but rather an ongoing transmission of values. Non-discrimination is one of these values important for the whole society. LGBT people have always been part of the larger Russian community. The only difference today is visibility. Russian tradition needs to meet universal human rights standards, such as the freedom of expression, a principle that applies to all Russian citizens irrespective of their national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.”

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director of Global Justice Institute, continued:

“Let me be clear. Tradition is less essential in a democratic society than justice. Stop invoking tradition to perpetuate discrimination at the highest level against our LGBT brothers and sisters from Russia! They will remain proud and visible despite these attempts to silence them, while our solidarity with the Russian civil society fighting for LGBT rights will increase. Censorship shouldn’t be a value that characterizes any nation in the 21st century.

“As a community of faith and a social justice institution, we reject the way the Russian authorities try to legitimize and legalize discrimination against LGBT people. Societal norms and traditions can’t be invoked in good faith when they deliberately harm vulnerable groups, such as LGBT people.“

 

The Global Justice Institute is a collaborative effort of Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, dedicated to fostering theological reconciliation, positive public images and economic development with LGBTI people around the globe.  For more information visit www.globaljusticeinstitute.com or contact Rev. Pat, Executive Director, at 

Moderator of world’s largest LGBT community of faith hails signing of anti-discrimination legislation by Puerto Rico’s Governor

Today, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, signed two bills into effect, one banning discrimination against the island’s LGBT citizens and another adding LGBT couples to protective provisions already in place in domestic violence statutes.

 

Governor Padilla’s actions followed on the heels of those of the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, when earlier this month she mandated that police in the city provide equal protection and access to support services regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

“While some religious leaders mounted a vigorous campaign to defeat these legislative efforts completely,” said The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, “I want to lift up and celebrate the courage and conviction of Governor Padilla in announcing as he presented the new laws, he felt he had done his duty as a Christian.”

 

“While a coalition of faith leaders was successful in eliminating clauses that would have more fully guaranteed equality in commercial accommodations, rentals and public transportation,” she continued, “I and the members and friends of ICM Cristo Sanador, our MCC congregation in San Juan, believe with all our hearts that there is much rejoicing in heaven today, for the good news that the Creator’s plan of universal human dignity and equality has taken another step forward in our lives.”

 

The Rev. Jorge Delgado Rivas, member of The Moderator’s Public Policy Team and the Global Justice Institute, expressed his gratitude to the members and friends of MCC in Puerto Rico have long witnessed and worked for this day.  “I am sure,” he said, “many of us remember well the days not  that long ago when crimes committed against LGBT people were not even listed as hate crimes in Puerto Rico.  I want to lift up the memory of people like George Steven Lopez Mercado, targeted as a teenage gay rights activist, and brutally slain.  The police investigator in that case told us that ‘people who lead this life style need to be aware that this will happen.’  Today my brother, Steven, your work on behalf of our people has proved fruitful and those of us born LGBT have taken a huge step forward n reclaiming our rightful place among the human family.  I thank you for praying for us, Steven, and I salute the Governor for keeping his word to us.”

 

Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated territory of the United States.  While Puerto Ricans elect their own Governor and legislators, many aspects of life in the island nation remain under the auspices of the Congress of the United States.  The first federally funded survey to determine the future of the island as either a state or a commonwealth has been promised.

 

Metropolitan Community Churches applauds the leadership of the Puerto Rican Governor and legislature, as well as the vision of its citizenry, in working for the fundamental equality of all God’s children.

 

This statement prepared in conjunction with the Global Justice Institute,

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

For more information about Metropolitan Community Churches, contact Ann Craig .

 

For more information about MCC’s Public Policy Team or the Global Justice Institute, contact The Rev. Jim Merritt at .

Prepared for change: There have always been gay Boy Scouts

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” This week, gay Boy Scouts are prepared for equality.  At the same time, they are prepared for discrimination.  They know that even if the policy changes to allow gay Boy Scouts, there will still be those who discriminate.  There will be those who are frightened by change and by the full range of human expression of love and family.

read the full article on the washington post website http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/05/22/prepared-for-change-there-have-always-been-gay-boy-scouts

Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls for Full Inclusion by Boy Scouts of America

23 May 2013 — Today the 1400 member national council of the Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Texas, voted to allow openly gay youth to join the Scouts effective January of 2014, while continuing to ban openly gay Scout leaders.  Council spokespersons said that while people have differing opinions on this policy revision, most agree that youth are better off because of their involvement in Scouting troops and activities.

 

While we applaud the decision to welcome gay scouts, we believe the amended policy sends a mixed message to youth seeking to integrate their sexual orientations and gender identities into their full personhood as they grow and mature.

 

Children are not better off when they are left without strong role models who represent the deepest truest parts of who they are as people of God, a truth sadly reflected in the scores of LGBT youth who suffer greater rates of homelessness and bullying than their non-gay peers.

 

As people of faith we call on the Boy Scouts of America to remedy the confusion youth will experience because of their new policy, and act to include all  youth and adults who seek to participate in Scouting, help other people, and keep themselves mentally awake and on a path of moral integrity.

 

This statement published by the Public Policy Team
of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Senate abandons LGBT couples in U.S. with failure to pass inclusive immigration reform

May 22, 2013 – Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee chose to exclude same-sex bi-national couples from legislation reforming the U.S. immigration system.  Due to lack of support and threatened opposition, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) withdrew his amendment that would have allowed LGBT American citizens to sponsor their foreign-born legal spouses for citizenship, a benefit long afforded to opposite-sex married couples.  It would have corrected a wrong that needlessly divides American families and tears husbands, wives, and parents away from their loved ones each day.  Rev. Pat Bumgardner, the Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute, issued the following statement:

 

“There, indeed, is room for all.  Whether we were brought here forcefully, of our own free will, or otherwise, we all call this country home.  As people of faith, we see the innate humanity in all immigrants.  We stand with them as members of our human family.  We will not accept any system of power that seeks to divide us from one another, especially our most vulnerable.  For these reasons, we express our grave disappointment in our elected leaders in the U.S. Senate for willfully excluding same-sex bi-national families from immigration reform efforts they have underway.  As a nation, we are always stronger together.  Those who would divide us, those who would leave anyone behind should be ashamed for not living up to the ideals our nation professes.  Senators who promised to undermine attempts to pass truly comprehensive immigration reform and those who bowed to their vows are simply wrong and subject themselves to the wrong set of values.”

 

“We will continue to work with the broad coalition of immigration reform partners, grassroots activists, and our elected officials to ensure that bi-national same-sex couples, along with all other immigrants (regardless of their legal status) are included in the bill as it heads to the full Senate.  We call on all our allies in the Senate to join us.”

 

For more information on the work of the Global Justice Institute and Metropolitan Community Churches and comprehensive immigration reform, see “No Strangers to God:  A Call for Sensible Immigration Reform that Supports and Reunites Families.” http://mccchurch.org/no-strangers-to-god-a-call-for-sensible-immigration-reform-that-supports-and-reunites-families/

 

 

For more information, contact Rev. DeWayne Davis at

 

This statement prepared by Kareem Murphy on behalf of the Public Policy Team,

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.

Requiem for an Effeminate Boy

by The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson 

A trial began this month for the death of a boy who, in 2011, was sent to a South African boot camp where boys were supposed to become men—especially effeminate boys or boys who were thought to be gay. Photos of his emaciated body in the hospital bed look like the body of a Nazi death camp victim.

 

Fifteen-year-old Raymond Buys was not the first boy to die at this camp. Two others in earlier episodes died at the hands of the camp leaders who are affiliated with white supremacist groups. Camp leaders attributed the previous deaths to heart attacks but autopsies revealed choking in one victim and dehydration, broken bones, and brain hemorrhaging in the other.

 

Raymond’s roommate from his camp days said that Raymond had been chained to his bed for extended periods and left in his own soil. Tortures included being forced to eat his own feces and camp leaders put a pillowcase over his head and used an electric cattle prod on his fragile body. When he arrived at the hospital he had multiple burns, his bones were broken, and he was starved and dehydrated. He died.

 

It is for such travesties that The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) was created to be observed each year on May 17.

 

We would like to think that Raymond’s death was perpetrated by criminals but it was Raymond’s mother who wanted him to man-up. How many mothers and fathers force or “encourage” their children to change their gender expression through such military boot camps or through so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” programs where debunked psychology is enmeshed with religious bigotry. How many boys are sent off to be “toughened up” without consideration of the persecution they might endure at the hands of enforcers of hyper-masculinity?

 

Whether pseudo-military, pseudo-psychology, or pseudo-religious, these programs demean, torture and even kill boys and girls—as well as men and women—if they don’t fit gender or heterosexual expectations.

 

“Poster children” in these pseudo-programs in the United States who claim to have been changed, over time, have come out and admitted they did not change their identity or sexual orientation. Michael Bussee, founder of Exodus, recanted years ago and now spends his life working for equality. Alan Chambers took over the leadership of Exodus and announced that Exodus should let go of their slogan, “Change is Possible!” He realizes that sexual orientation cannot be changed; the best you can do is to decide not to be sexual or to force yourself into a heterosexual marriage. Recently, John Paulk, a one-time Focus on the Family star, and who was once featured on the cover of Newsweek as “ex-gay,” said he was gay and expressed regret for the harm his work had done.

 

Paulk was photographed in a gay bar.  Another “ex-gay” activist, Matt Moore, was caught on the pick-up site, Grindr. Paulk seems to just want to get on with his life but Moore is still saying that he was using Grindr to see who was in the neighborhood. After being caught, Moore sold his computer, locked his phone, ended his blog and said more “seasoned believers” should be in the public eye rather than himself.

 

Worse scandals reveal the tragic result of these lies. A few years ago, “Dr. Shock,” Aubrey Levin, was arrested in Canada after a career of torturing gay men with electric shock aversion “therapies” in South Africa and then moving to Canada where he continued to torture and exploit vulnerable men. Finally, he was stopped after one of his court-mandated patients secretly recorded a session where Levin sexually abused him. In another public debacle, a Florida newspaper photographed George Alan Rekers a board member of NARTH (North American Reparative Therapy), returning from a vacation with a “rent boy” in tow. He tried to say he was there to carry his luggage.

 

When secrets, lies and obsessions combine with dogma and vulnerable people, it is a disaster.

Tragically, much of the efforts to convert lesbian and gay people are deeply rooted in misguided religious beliefs. Originally, groups like Exodus and NARTH tried to position themselves as traditional counseling and psychotherapy, but key players like Joseph Nicolosi and Richard A. Cohen were discredited and barred from the highly respected American Counseling Association for ethics violations.

 

In 2007, the American Psychological Association assigned a Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The Taskforce reviewed more than 80 studies, which were overwhelmingly flawed, and none could prove that sexual orientation could be changed.

 

In 2012, the researcher highly cited by conservatives, Dr. Robert Spitzer, apologized for his own research in which he interviewed people in the so-called “ex-gay” movement and asked them if they had changed their sexual orientation.  Of course, a few claimed to have changed, but there was no proof.

 

With the veil of psychology in shreds, the only remaining smoke screen is religion. Yet, even the biblical texts used to disparage LGBT people are fading as families headed by same-gender couples are front and center in support of the moral and civic institution of marriage. Across the United States, faith leaders are standing shoulder to shoulder in support of equality. Racial divides have been diminished as President Obama and the NAACP continue to speak out for equality.

 

In a better world, this would also be a requiem for misguided conversion therapies. However, in a world that allows Raymond Buys to be tortured to death because he was a soft and delicate boy, the travesties continue. Our young people are in the crosshairs of narrow-minded Evangelical Christians who will treat them as collateral damage if they cannot conform to compulsory heterosexuality and gender roles.

Even though nine countries in Europe, several in Latin America, and South Africa have marriage equality, more than 70 countries throughout the world have laws making same-gender love illegal, and in seven countries, being gay is punishable by execution.

 

What is critical to understand is that conservatives who claim they are acting out of Christian love are exporting these same defamed and debunked conversion “treatments” all around the world as an alternative to prison and execution. These same people are perfectly willing to label gay people as evil and sinful and then are surprised when punitive laws are enforced and people in the street begin to take the law into their own hands and attack and kill people they believe are gay. So-called “ex-gay” programs originating in the United States are the backdrop for much of the expanding international homophobia .

 

Evangelicals from almost 200 countries gathered in South Africa for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Leaders of this 2010 conference, the largest evangelical gathering in recent history, included leaders from the Exodus Global Alliance. Exodus presenters claimed there are no more than a few thousand gay people in each African country and these are all products of the West. They intone that being gay is not a greater sin but say no other sin has a movement for acceptance. Another speaker parroted the completely discredited myths about rejection, sexual abuse and distant fathers as “causes” for being gay. She closed with the rejected slogan, “Change Is Possible.”

 

Whether it is in the United States, South Africa, China, Africa, Latin America, or Eastern Europe, homophobia is still at work, and Evangelicals are still trying to position “ex-gay” ministries as the compassionate choice. It is not! Whether it is the death penalty, prison, shock treatment, laws that silence all discussion of LGBT concerns, or conversion therapy, all of it kills. Whether it kills the spirit, promotes suicide or results in the death penalty, carnage lies in its wake.

Raymond Buys, rest in peace. I will not forget you. I will not forget your broken body. I will stand with all those who mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who defend our young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming. Your journey ended, but your story continues.