Marriage equality’s global progress is still limited, legal in only twenty-one nations so far, but the growing trend has shown that Catholic areas keep advancing LGBT rights.
Below, Bondings 2.0 offers updates about several relevant developments in the Philippines, Australia, Mexico, Poland, and Guam .
Same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses earlier this month, receiving an expected denial at civil registries following the government’s announcement it would not allow equal marriage rights until a law is passed.
The rejections allow challenges to the nation’s Family Code currently before the nation’s Supreme Court to proceed, according to The Strait Times. Lawyer Jesus Falcis claimed that limiting marriage to one man and one woman as the Code does is unconstitutional, and he will file suit on behalf of partners Crescencio Agbayani and Marlon Pelipe, whose application was rejected.
Agbayani is a Christian minister, and he is clear “this is not an issue of religion but of equal protection” reported The Inquirer.
Filipino Catholic bishops vocally opposing marriage equality, fearful of change following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to legalize marriage for lesbian and gay couples. According to The Bangkok Post, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, reiterated the bishops’ opposition to LGBT equality, and he added:
“[T]he US Supreme Court decision will not go unheeded. We shall study it with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions.”
A bishops conference spokesperson admitted the U.S. decision would increase pressure in the Philippines reported UCA News, but the spokesperson also cited Pope Francis’ remarks about resisting “ideological colonization” during a recent visit to the country. As Bondings 2.0 previously reported, that comment has been widely misunderstood, and it seems is being again misapplied here.
Momentum for marraige equality is growing, however, as LGBT advocates expand their voices in a nation where 80% of 100 million residents are Catholic. June’s Metro Manila Pride drew hundreds according to Gay Star News, and one priest’s letter in Outrage reveals the reality that LGBT Catholics are increasingly in need of pastoral care as more people come out and form families. Father RJ wrote about the baptism of a same-gender couple’s child, concluding:
“The baptism went smoothly. Throughout the ceremony, I referred to Frankie and Shane as the parents of Pink. Frankie later told me that she got goosebumps when I first mentioned both their names as the parents. . .
“Out of fear of being subjected to ‘harsh words’ from the so-called ‘good Catholics’ and from the ‘shepherds’ of the Church, Frankie and Shane almost put off the baptism of their beautiful baby Pink. Would that one day, such ceremonies could be conducted openly and without fear, with the loving blessing and warm embrace of our Holy Mother, the Church.”
Yet, in the only nation (besides the Vatican) where divorce is still illegal and where the bishops’ influence remains pervasive, religion, and specifically Catholicism, will certainly continue playing a major role. Hopefully, more clergy and religious like Father RJ will begin speaking up about the good and faithful LGBT people they know and challenge the bishops’ anti-equality message.
Despite widespread actions for marriage equality and 72% public support, Prime Minister Tony Abbot, who is Catholic, remains firmly opposed to equal marriage. He denied members of Parliament a conscience vote on the Equal Marriage Bill that would have likely passed, and he instead called for a national referendum after 2016 elections, reported The New Civil Rights Movement.
While a recent piece in News.co.au reveals increasing splits in Abbot’s own government, Australia’s Catholic bishops have been quite supportive of his efforts to stop equality. Their actions have included using children in Catholic schools as messengers for an anti-gay pamphlet. Additionally, pastorally insensitive remarks by Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher were hurtful to many. Thankfully, Australian Catholics are providing more inclusive local communities and among the majority of Australians ready for marriage equality.
Following a June decision paving the way to legalize same-gender marriages, Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled 9-1 that bans on same-sex adoptions are also unconstitutional and violate a child’s rights, according to The Advocate. Marriage is “already legal in Mexico City and the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero, and Quintana Roo,” but is expected to expand when couples challenge local bans. The nation’s Catholic bishops, as expected, objected to expanding marriage rights, reported On Top Magazine.
Polish attitudes towards LGBT equality are slowly evolving, reported NPR. An LGBT pride parade in the historic city of Gdansk drew 1,000 marchers, and there has been more LGBT media exposure recently, according to one advocate.
Robert Biedron, the first openly gay member of Parliament, claims the change in attitude is “in part because the Catholic Church’s is shrinking in Poland and because more Poles are coming out of the closet.” Shrinking episcopal influence, coupled with personal knowledge of LGBT people, have been a key recipe for pro-equality Catholics to effect change elsewhere. Hopefully, there will be rainbows over Poland soon enough.
The legislature of Guam, aU.S. territory passed a both marriage equality law and nondiscrimination protections last week, reported Metro Weekly. This comes despite Agana Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron’s warnings equal marriage would “destroy the fabric of society‘ and lead to a “totalitarian system.”
For more information on global Catholic LGBT issues, visit the ‘International’ category to the right or click here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry