Items 2001/2

Child sexual abuse is not a gay issue.
Studies have confirmed that pedophilia is not a gay issue. Five respected professional organizations have public policies stating that there is no correlation between homosexuality and child abuse:
 American Psychological Association,
National Association of Social Workers,
American Academy of Child Psychiatrists,
American Psychiatric Association and
Child Welfare League of America.

Research studies have concluded that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse is committed by heterosexual men the most often cited statistic is that more than 80% of all child sexual abuse involves a heterosexual perpetrator.

The work was done in USA, but doubtless the same applies elsewhere. Bang goes another prejudice!
Bouquets to the above Associations for their reports!

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Evangelical Alliance and Courage Trust
Does anything change?

2000 years ago religious leaders decided that Jesus was an embarrassment and threat, encouraging and ministering to those on the margins of society, undermining their religious ideas and their teaching of 'righteousness'. So they put him out and had him crucified. That got rid of him, they thought!

Religious leaders of the Evangelical Alliance UK have just decided that Jeremy Marks, a man who ministers to and brings Christian encouragement to those on the margins of society is an embarrassment and a threat to their 'righteousness', and have expelled him from EA. They cannot crucify Marks, but they have put him out! That got rid of him, they thought! Why?

Marks recognised after 10 years of "ex-gay ministry" that it didn't work - not one person's sexuality had changed, and now with great integrity he provides Christian support for gay Christians recognising their sexuality is not going to change - its a 'given'.

Rev Dr Joel Edwards, Director of EA states "There should be no homophobia in the church."  Does that mean he does not see EA as part of the Church?

What was it that Jesus called religious hypocrites? Brickbat to EA!
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Presbyterian Church News!

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted June 2001 to accept a proposal to allow gay and lesbian people to hold clergy posts.

The proposal needed to be ratified by June 2002 by a majority of the 173 presbyteries. While a good number voted for, a majority has voted against. We know the deep distress this is causing, having contact with a member or two of the church.

Please pray that love will be brought to bear on this deep, historic injustice.

Please pray for distressed LBGTs in the Presbyterian Church USA. Bless them, O Lord!

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Spain's First Openly Gay Priest Fights To Make Catholic Church Gay-Friendly

The first priest in Spanish history to openly acknowledge being gay vowed to fight to make the RC Church accept gays and lesbians in the pews and on the pulpit.

"Being gay is a gift from God equal to being heterosexual," the priest from Valverde del Camino told a packed news conference. "If God created you gay, God wants you to be gay. At no point does God want you to regret being so." Mantero's admission has triggered a debate on tv talk shows, in cafes and in living rooms across Spain.

That took some courage! God bless you, Mantero!

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Italian Priest Who Marries Gay Couples Expelled

An Italian priest who married homosexual couples in Italy was expelled and stripped of his priestly duties.  Despite warnings, Father Franco Barbero, 63, of Pinerolo married divorcees and over 30 gay couples, forcing the church to take action, the local bishop said.

The Vatican has strongly attacked moves in Europe and abroad to allow homosexual marriages and to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

Please remember Fr Barbero in your prayers!

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Lord Lester's Civil Partnerships Bill

Lord Lester of Herne Hill announced on 11 February 2002 that he would not proceed with his Civil Partnership Bill at this stage. He will instead
re-introduce the Bill in the autumn and call for a Select Committee to look at the issues in detail. Such a committee could also consider the review currently being conducted by the government.

In the mean time pressure on the government needs to be maintained. Write to your MP, and to the Cabinet Office at No 10 who are leading the government review.  For further information www.stonewall.org.uk

Thank you Lord Lester, and Jane Griffiths MP who raised this just issue in their respective houses, where in both it received overwhelming support. And thank you Lord!

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Alberta, Canada Recommends Legal Equality For Gays

A government report recommends Canada's Alberta Province extend the same legal benefits to same-sex relationships as married couples, and is considering such benefits for people in committed non-sexual relationships. The proposal is part of a review of family law by Justice Minister Dave Hancock.  Predictably, social and religious conservatives quickly condemned the same-sex proposal and promised to fight it.

Nova Scotia and Quebec either have done so, or are in the process of recognizing civil unions between gay and lesbian couples with most of the legal benefits of marriage, including the division of assets after a breakup and the right to inherit property when a partner dies.

It's all happening. Praise the Lord!

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Romania Abolishes Article 200

The Romanian government has abolished Article 200, which discriminates against homosexuals, according to Gay Times.  The Romanian government tries to makes itself more acceptable to the European Union. It is not known how much this improves the rights of gay people, but...

A step forward for Romania and justice! Wonderful!

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Former President Gerald Ford supports equality

Former US President Gerald Ford believes the federal US government should treat gay couples the same as married couples, including providing equal Social Security and tax benefits. Ford's views make him the highest-ranking Republican ever to endorse equal treatment for gay couples.

Well said, Sir! And thank you Lord!

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Gov't considering nationwide Gay Partnership Register

Baroness Sally Morgan, of the Gov'ts Equality Unit, has said that the London Partnership Register established by Ken Livingstone, is leading to consideration of a nationwide Partnership Register for same-sex couples to register voluntarily - that denying pension and tenancy rights is unfair to lesbian and gay partners.

Looks like something we have prayed for might happen! Praise God.  Big bouquet to Baroness Sally Morgan!!

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The September 11th terrorist attack on America

The surreal turned out to be reality. The tv pictures that we could not believe we were watching, were actually of thousands of people dying - friends, loved ones. It was horror, and as America wept, so did we. Many nations lost people, but by far the greatest loss was America's.

We pray for America, and those of every nation who lost loved ones. May God be with you and give you peace as you weep and grieve. But there is hope! There is a God-given resurrection quality about the human spirit, and a Phoenix will rise from the ashes. It will be hard, but it will happen!

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London Partnership Register, & Partnership Legislation

Lesbian and gay couples in London now have the chance to register and celebrate their commitment to their partner, courtesy of Ken Livingstone.

Stonewall writes "It's also a real boost for legal change. So many other countries - most recently Germany, Belgium and France - allow for the civil registration of partnerships. People recognise that change here is overdue".

Congrats to the happy couples, and a big bouquet to Ken.

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The Conservative Prime Minister of Australia

Mr. Howard said if his own son came home and said he was gay, he would be disappointed. "I wouldn't love him any less, but I would be disappointed, I haven't met a parent yet who wants their children to grow up gay. Gay partnerships should not be given the same status as marriage."

This was just weeks after Germany joined a handful of countries  allowing same-sex marriage rights and giving homosexual couples the same  legal rights as heterosexual couples. Germany joined the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and France in recognizing gay marriage rights.

We would be disappointed if our children held views like his - they don't - they have a healthy attitude, thank God.

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Network of Baptists UK affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians

This network has been established and has two Co-ordinators, Rev David Trafford and Martin Stears. Its aims are:

*to be supportive to lesbians and gay men and those with concerns about their sexuality within the church.

*to listen to the outworking of the Holy Spirit on these matters.

*to encourage discussion, study and the sharing of people's stories.

We wish the Network every success, and will pray for it and those it serves in the Baptist Church. Thank you Lord!

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Call for gay rights in Northern Ireland

Sweeping changes are called for by the Human Rights Commission of the province to end discrimination against homosexuals and bisexuals.

The report based on research by Ulster University. shows that discrimination has been hidden, and pervades education, employment, health and housing, and recommends that same-sex partnerships should be recognised in law.

We pray this might be so! Well done Ulster Uni!

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Catholics Blessed Same-Sex Couples, New Study Says

The Guardian reports a study by Alan Bray, a Catholic scholar, has unearthed evidence suggesting that churches in Britain -- specifically the Catholic Church -- blessed gay and lesbian relationships from 1300 for over 500 years, often burying partners together.

Bray said. "The evidence on tomb markers of memorials in the churches dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries is incontrovertible". For more info visit www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4235995,00.html

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US Anti-gay 'Alliance for Marriage' and the proposed 'Federal Marriage Amendment'

The 'Alliance for Marriage' - anti-gay activists who think that to strengthen the family, they must reject committed gay relationships/families, (a fallacy - the opposite is true) have prepared the proposed "Federal Marriage Amendment" that states "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of a man and a woman."

This would deny legal recognition of gay relationships, and forever deprive gay families in the U.S. of fundamental protections. The Human Rights Commission, representatives of MCC and religious leaders of other groups have responded with a press conference.

Pray that this will not only be thrown out, but lead to a recognition of loving, committed same-sex families.

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GERMAN GOV'T GIVES GAYS RIGHT TO MARRY

The German Government passed a law now in force July 2001 allowing same-sex partners to marry, as well as extending the tax and inheritance rights of marriage to gay couples, and gives foreigners in homosexual relationships with Germans the right to residency.

Things move on. Thank you Lord as justice replaces injustice! Bouquets to the German Govt.

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Presbyterian Church News!

The 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted Friday 15th June 2001 to accept a proposal that would allow gay and lesbian people to hold clergy posts.

The proposal needs to be ratified by June 2002 by a majority of the 173 presbyteries. Please pray that this new policy will be endorsed, and bring love to bear on this deep, historic injustice.

Bouquets to Assembly representatives of the Presbyterian Church USA. Thank you Lord!

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Rev Dr Paul W Egertson, Bishop resigns

In an act of conscience, The Rev. Dr. Paul W. Egertson, Bishop of the Southern California (West) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church recently participated in the ordination of the Rev. Anita Hill who is a lesbian in a covenant relationship and who has worked for more than 20 years among LBGT Christians within the Evangelical Lutheran Church USA. It  resulted in his resignation as Bishop in a statement made 26  May 2001.

Bishop Egertson's act comes at great personal cost - but his act will be an inspiration to many.

May God bless him and his family with peace, and open new doors to ministry in the days to come.

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Invitation to speak to representatives of 2 churches in Colchester about our 'journey of faith'

On 17th May Carol and I travelled to Colchester, where we shared our story, and Bible study which played a major part in my repentance. Andrew and Margaret, parents of a gay son, organised the event, and there was a good number present. Afterwards Carol spoke to some of those present over refreshments, something in which she excels.

The response and the questions indicated that there was an open-minded desire to learn from our 8 years experience of sharing with LBG Christian friends. We were very encouraged, as we believe Margaret and Andrew were.

 One positive comment indicated that 'things will never be the same again'.

We pray that will be so! Bouquets to these churches!

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European Forum of LBG Christians

I attended the Annual Conference of European Forum of LBG Christians 3-6 May in Warsaw. It was a moving experience to share with delegates from across Europe; from Holland where LBGs are an integral part of society and church, and from countries at the other extreme. All were in good heart,  together in Christ and among friends. The workshops were most helpful, and the worship, (multi-lingual) such that all could enter, was very special.

I led a workshop in which I shared our story, and the Bible study through which the Lord led me to the conclusion that 'there is no condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the Bible, rather does God commend wholeness bringing, dignifying love wherever it is found'. Two delegates could scarcely believe what they were hearing from a 'straight' Christian evangelical preacher. They were from Siberia, where there is no support. They have gone home to try to translate the website which includes my book 'Reluctant Journey' into Russian. And two young Polish women are seeking ways to promote, in Poland, this book which has helped so many.

We look forward to the fruit of their work, which will  enrich many lives, including ours! Thank you Lord!

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BARONESS YOUNG CENSURED

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Baroness Young had been "misleading and inaccurate" in her campaign against an equal age of consent.  Together with other opponents of equality, Baroness Young  advertised in the national press suggesting that legislation to equalise the age of consent would mean that "boys and girls ..will be legally subjected to anal intercourse, an act known to have severe health implications".

After complaints, the ASA ruled that Baroness Young had misled the public in suggesting that such acts could be carried out against young people against their will, when the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill relates to consensual sexual activity.  Angela Mason of Stonewall, said:  "Misleading the public is not in the best interests of young people."

Not much chance of that from the Baroness and her allies.  We always knew the tactics of the religious right was to mislead. Now, thanks to the ASA its official!

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Steven Spielberg has protested, by resigning, at the anti-gay attitudes in the Scouts.

A great pity that Steven Spielberg felt he had to do this, but we understand why. The church loses  when gay christians are forced out, and the Scouts lose when Steven S. feels he is no longer prepared to accept intolerance and injustice.

Let's hope the Scouts soon see sense, and put the matter right. The old 'chestnut' about gay people being paedophiles is as wrong as all heterosexuals being such. The right thing is to establish good procedures and ensure they are in place to protect children from whoever the predators are.

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Rabbis resolve that same-gender Jewish couples deserve affirming rituals.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis voted to affirm 500 Rabbis of Reform Judaism who are willing to bless Jewish gay and lesbian couples.

Reform Judaism, is the first  religious group to endorse the ritual celebration of same-gender couples. How closely they resemble traditional wedding ceremonies will be up to the Rabbi, the couple and the congregation.

Bouquets to the Rabbis of Jewish Reform! God bless you.

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Another step towards proper recognition of same-sex relationships!

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has been changed to include partners of same-sex relationships in the compensation arrangements. The injustice of heterosexual partners receiving compensation while partners of LBGT relationships did not was highlighted as a result of the Admiral Duncan bombing.

The Govt has filled another gap of injustice! Let's pray they go on to recognition of LBGT relationships!

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Jeremy Marks, Courage U.K. leader says "Conversion therapy doesn't work!"

Jeremy Marks, of CourageUK, the leader of what was a reparative therapy ministry in the UK has concluded that the process doesn't work.  This is another confirmation of the conclusion of APA (www.apa.org), that 'there is no scientific evidence that so-called 'reparative' therapy is effective in converting homosexuals into heterosexuals' and are against it 'because of the real harm that it can cause' .

Exodus International, the USA parent organisation, has given Courage "sabbatical leave". The break will give Courage the chance "to explore its new direction and practice, away from the goal upon which Exodus is based: freedom from homosexuality. We want to be separated from the 'ex-gay' label and focus on supporting Christians who are gay,".

Jeremy Marks, a gay man himself, has practised reparative therapy for some 14 years, stated  "None we've counselled have changed no matter how much effort and prayer they put in. The underlying assumption that being gay is anathema to being Christian is damaging" he said. He will report after two years, yet holds out little hope that Exodus will change its views.

Carol and I met Jeremy recently, and we found a high degree of agreement with him - something we had not entirely expected, but the changes in him and at Courage have been going on for a while, it seems.

 Bouquet to Jeremy for his personal courage and integrity! Please pray for him and 'Courage'.

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Holocaust Memorials

We went to a Holocaust Memorial outside the Admiral Duncan Pub. Very moving, especially when family of Nik Moore (who died at the bombing)  contributed. Politicians and other reps spoke including Angela Mason.

A few days later we watched the Holocaust Memorial from Westminster Central Hall at which survivors spoke, and a representative of the gay community, Sir Ian McKellen referred to the 'forgotten holocaust' of gays, Romanys, Slavs. Spiritual leaders spoke on the need to prevent discrimination and hatred. Then we remembered the Vatican's words about gays which are not unlike the words used by Hitler about the Jews! And Rabbi Jonathan Sacks views about gays and .....

Hypocrisy is written large upon many. That it includes Christians is a disgrace to the gospel.

Forgive us Lord our closed minds and hard hearts, and make your  your Spirit stir within us!

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London Mayor appoints Angela Mason as Cabinet Adviser on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, the city with the largest LGBT population in the country has appointed Angela Mason OBE, Executive Director of Stonewall, as his Cabinet Advisor on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The Mayor considers lesbian and gay rights to be a key community interest in London.

Congratulations, Angela. God bless you in your work for justice - something which is at the heart of the gospel!

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AGE of CONSENT

The Speaker of the House signed the necessary certificate on Nov 30th, to enable the Parliament Act to be invoked. Stonewall had a celebration party !

The Baroness and the Christian Institute have lost the argument. The Government had overwhelming support in the Commons for equal age of consent. The Act became law on Jan 8th.

Bouquets to the Govt and all who made this possible, including the 'hidden' lawyers of the Home Office!

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EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

On 2nd October the UK's first Human Rights Act came into force. It is a milestone in the legal and political history of our nation. But as ever, the extreme Christian Right is endeavouring to restrict the rights of others while extending their own.

The Christian Institute, Baroness Young, and CARE (Christian Action Research & Education) worked hard to get Europe to 'ditch the directive' which outlaws discrimination in the workplace. They got a little of what they were after, but a lot less than they hoped. Their action will be directed toward the UK Govt which has to pass the legislation in the next few years.

Be watchful! Act if necessary! And let's see the Human Rights of gay people won!

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HERE IS SOME SOULFORCE NEWS:

For up-to-date news, see Soulforce or  DignityUSA

Leaders of Soulforce, committed to nonviolent resistance, and Dignity/USA, a lay movement of GLBT Catholics, families, and friends, took their non-violent campaign against centuries of spiritual violence and anti-gay teachings of the Catholic Church to the Vatican on Epiphany, 2001.

They held a vigil outside the Vatican for three days, each day offering different gifts - for orphans, for abused women and for people with HIV/AIDS - asking the Vatican to bless the gifts! There was no response!  And when they came offering themselves, the door was again closed to God's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered children."

This was disappointing, but no surprise. The Pontifical Council for the Family calls same-sex unions "a deplorable distortion"; adoption by gay parents "a grave danger"; homosexual orientation "objectively disordered" and homosexual acts "intrinsically evil." The Vatican states that homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt, teach, coach, be married, ordained, or serve in the military.

This Catholic violence must cease! Pray for God speed to Soulforce & DignityUSA.

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CALIFORNIA GRANTS HISTORIC TAX BENEFIT TO GAY PARENTS

In a landmark decision, California has become the first state in the USA to give gay and lesbian parents the same tax benefits as heterosexual mothers and fathers.  It is the first time any state in the nation has specifically said gay men and lesbians can be considered parents of children who are not biologically their own for tax purposes.

Another step toward equality! Bouquets to California! And thank you Lord for all your love and mercies.

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SEPT 12th 2000 & JAN 2001, GREAT DAYS FOR DUTCH GAYS

A bill in Sept 2000 passed by 107 to 33, (now enacted in Jan 2001) converting all registered same-sex partnerships into full marriage, complete with wider adoption rights and divorce guidelines. The result was greeted with resounding cheers and thumping of desks. The same rights are being accorded to gays in registered partnerships as to heterosexual married couples.

In Norway and Sweden, gay couples can already register their partnerships and Denmark has gone further -- it was the first country to adopt gay marriages in 1989. Predictably (see Soulforce article above) the Vatican attacked the move calling it 'a grave attack on the family..' They should know about grave attacks, they've been making them for centuries against all sorts, including homosexual men and women!

The Dutch have acted justly - good news indeed. We pray that the UK Parliament soon follows. AMEN!

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NATIONAL 'COMING-OUT' DAY

Helpline Switchboards for lesbians, gays and bisexuals were open all day on Oct 7th 2000 to offer support as part of the first National Coming-out Day. Activities to help understanding about coming-out were held, focussing on schools, colleges, workplaces, and the family and friends of those coming-out. National Friend, the UK umbrella group for lesbian and gay befriending services, and Gay.com helped to launch the day.

We know only too well the risks of coming-out from those who have shared with us, and would counsel anyone to think and pray about it carefully before making a decision - but  those who have a 'successful coming-out' find it liberating, if slightly scary.

We are here to do what we can to support lesbian and gay Christians. Our booklet 'Reluctant Journey', this website and our direct ministry has helped many people (see Reviews) here, and in other parts, incl USA.

May God guide you and pray for the day when 'special days' are not needed, and telling those you love, and living faithfully as God made you, will be as normal as breathing.

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Billy Graham Crusade

In the past, Billy Graham has not wanted the help of gay Christians, so it is good to hear that  Billy Graham welcomed Metropolitan Community Church members as Counsellors and helpers at a recent Crusade.

During the campaign, Billy Graham emphasised 'the love of God for all, regardless of the colour of your skin, your gender and the type of relationship you are in'. As a result of the Crusade, over 9000 people made the decision to follow Christ, and some were referred to MCC.

Praise and thank God for this development!

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