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AFGHANISTAN: LGBT+ Afghans in hiding, fearing death under Taliban

AFGHANISTAN: LGBT+ Afghans in hiding, fearing death under Taliban

Gay men in Kabul say they are afraid for their lives under Taliban rule and hope to escape the country

 

By Rachel Savage

 

Openly News (19.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/3yjdTxn – Gay men in Kabul say they fear for their lives under Taliban rule, as they hide at home, holding out in hope of a Western evacuation before Islamists carry out a threat to punish LGBT+ Afghans with death.

 

The Taliban says Afghans have nothing to fear, but reports of the group stoning gay men to death when last in power and of judicial support for a return now to capital punishment have left some LGBT+ people cowering indoors.

 

“I am feeling very uncomfortable, just crying and thinking, ‘What will happen?'” a 21-year-old student, whose name is being withheld to protect his identity, said by phone from Kabul.

 

The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday, completing a rapid military takeover of the country after the Americans began withdrawing troops.

 

Even before the takeover, gay men said it had been too dangerous to live openly in Afghanistan, whatever changes had been won over the past 20 years.

 

But the Taliban’s victory has raised fears of a return to brutality if strict sharia law is imposed and international attention fades.

 

“They are now telling the world, ‘We will not harm anyone, we will not kill anyone.’ But they are just lying,” the student said. “They will start to do things that they did back in 2001.”

 

Frantic crowds have thronged Kabul’s airport desperate to board mainly Western evacuation planes, with LGBT+ Afghans among those who say they feel most at risk from Taliban rule.

 

Gay and lesbian sex is illegal under Afghanistan’s 2017 penal code and the death penalty is technically allowed under sharia law by the constitution, but has not been enforced since 2001, according to LGBT+ advocacy group ILGA-World.

 

Under the Taliban’s first regime, from 1996 to 2001, there were reports that men accused of having gay sex were sentenced to death and crushed by walls pushed over by tanks.

 

A Taliban judge has said that gay sex should be met with a death sentence of stoning or a toppled wall, according to an interview published last month by German newspaper ‘Bild’.

A Taliban spokesman contacted by WhatsApp message did not respond to a request for comment and did not answer phone calls.

 

FEAR

 

Even before the Afghan capital fell on Sunday, an English teacher, whose name and age are being withheld for his protection, was only able to meet his boyfriend in a park for 30 minutes a day after a relative discovered their relationship.

 

Since then, apart from one phone call on Sunday when news broke of Kabul’s fall, he has not spoken to his partner of two years – the pair grew up together – as the house is full of relatives who had fled from other parts of Afghanistan.

 

“It is more scary than ever,” the teacher said by phone.

 

He described living in constant fear, awaiting the day when he is taken from his house to a deserted field outside Kabul, tried in a makeshift court then killed, something he heard had happened under the last Taliban rule.

 

“They will kill. There is no way to forgive the person, because being LGBT is out of Islam, out of every human behaviour – they believe like this,” he said.

 

Both men interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation said their only hope was to escape overseas with their boyfriends.

 

To be safe and openly share a home together “would be like living in heaven”, the teacher said.

 

“My country never gave me an opportunity to show myself, to prove myself who I am,” he said. “If I’m in a safe country, I will start studying teaching in a very professional way and I will promise that I will be one of the best.”

 

(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

 

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Photo credits: REUTERS/Stringer





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GHANA’s anti-gay bill condemned as ‘state-sponsored’ violence

GHANA’s anti-gay bill condemned as ‘state-sponsored’ violence

United Nations experts said the bill, which makes it a crime to be LGBT+, could ‘create a recipe for conflict and violence’

 

By Nita Bhalla

 

Openly News (12.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/2Y3ymtJ – A Ghanaian bill criminalising LGBT+ people will establish “a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence” against sexual minorities, U.N. human rights experts warned on Thursday, urging authorities to reject the proposed law.

 

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, was introduced in parliament on Aug. 2 and is expected to go before lawmakers for debate in October.

 

In a letter to Ghana’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva, the experts – who include the U.N.’s independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz – said the bill violated Ghana’s international human rights agreements.

 

“We express our grave concern about the draft bill, which seems to establish a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons of great magnitude,” said the letter dated Aug. 9 and publicly released on Thursday.

 

“Given that LGBTI people are present in every family and every community, it is not very difficult to imagine how, if it were to be adopted, this legislation could create a recipe for conflict and violence.”

 

Ghanaian government officials were not immediately available for comment.

 

Gay sex is already punishable with up to three years in jail in Ghana, where homophobic persecution is widespread. The bill would also impose a penalty of up to five years imprisonment for being LGBT+ and of 10 years for advocating for their rights.

 

Online platforms or media companies publishing information deemed to support LGBT+ people or challenge traditional binary male and female gender identities could also be prosecuted.

 

The draft law promotes so-called conversion therapy by allowing flexible sentencing for an LGBT+ person if they request “treatment” to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, which the U.N. experts said “may amount to torture”.

 

Some political analysts say there is enough cross-party support in the largely conservative Christian West African nation for the bill to become law.

 

However, the bill could face pressure from international donors and legal challenges, as the U.N. experts said it violated international conventions to which Ghana is party, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Danny Bediako of the human rights organisation Rightify Ghana said he hoped the U.N. statement would encourage lawmakers to vote against the bill.

 

“Just as some Ghanaians who have spoken against the hate bill, the international community is concerned about Ghana’s democratic credentials being wiped out by this anti-LGBTQ bill,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

 

“Within parliament, I don’t think it would make much difference amongst MPs who support the bill. However, it could encourage other MPs to speak against it.”

 

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Katie Nyugen and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

Photo credits: REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko





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GHANA: Anti-gay bill seeks prison terms for LGBT+ people

GHANA: Anti-gay bill seeks prison terms for LGBT+ people

A new draft law in the West African nation proposes jail time for those who identify as LGBT+, and for anyone who offers assistance to the LGBT+ community.

 

By Nita Bhalla

 

Openly News (02.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/3fFZipl – A bill in Ghana that would make it a crime to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender or to advocate for LGBT+ rights is expected to be presented before parliament on Monday for its first reading.

 

The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, has sparked outrage and fear in the West African nation’s LGBT+ community, with campaigners saying it could heighten widespread persecution and violence.

 

Here are some key details and background about the controversial proposal:

 

 

What is the current law regarding LGBT+ people in Ghana?

 

Under a 1960 British colonial-era law, “unnatural carnal knowledge” – widely interpreted as sexual intercourse between men – is punishable with up to three years in jail.

 

Ghana has not prosecuted anyone for gay sex in years, but LGBT+ people face frequent abuse and discrimination, including blackmail and attacks, human rights researchers say.

 

It is not a crime to be LGBT+ or to promote LGBT+ rights under current legislation.

 

 

Why was the bill introduced now?

 

The bill is sponsored by eight lawmakers from the opposition and ruling parties who came together following the opening of the country’s first LGBT+ community centre in January.

 

The opening of the centre sparked uproar from church organisations, politicians and anti-gay groups, and authorities shut it down three weeks later.

 

This has led to a crackdown by authorities – including the arrest of 21 LGBT+ activists in May – and an increase in homophobic abuse from the public in recent months, community members say.

 

The lawmakers, who are led by Samuel Nartey George from the National Democratic Congress party, say homosexuality is a perversion and LGBT+ activities threaten Ghanaian family values, and society in general.

 

 

What are the main provisions in the bill?

 

The draft law makes it a crime punishable by up to five years imprisonment to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, pansexual and non-binary – someone who does not identify as male or female.

 

Advocating for the LGBT+ community, sympathising or offering any assistance such as financial or medical support to LGBT+ people or organisations would also be an offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

 

Media companies, online platforms and accounts that publish information deemed to support LGBT+ activities or encourage children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could also be prosecuted.

 

On the other hand, the draft law promotes so-called conversion therapy by allowing flexible sentencing for an LGBT+ person if they request “treatment”.

 

Other articles include outlawing “intentional cross-dressing” and “amorous relations” between people of the same sex in public, and making it a citizen’s duty to report any LGBT+ persons or activities to authorities.

 

It also proposes amending Ghana’s existing extradition law to allow for the deportation of LGBT+ Ghanaians living overseas.

 

 

How have people responded to the bill?

 

LGBT+ rights groups in Ghana have expressed shock and alarm over the provisions of the draft law, saying that it would strip gay, bisexual and transgender people of all their rights – and increase homophobic persecution and violence.

 

LBGT+ people report being scared and have already begun to restrict their movements and avoid public places such as markets where they may be targeted, say community organisations.

 

Campaigners have launched a campaign on social media called #KillTheBill to raise awareness and also an online petition to stop the draft law, which has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures since it was launched on Sunday.

 

Religious groups such as the Coalition of Muslim Groups in Ghana have welcomed the bill, saying it is necessary to prevent the dilution of cultural values and beliefs in Ghanaian society. 

 

Last week, traditional leaders from Ghana’s Waala community – to which about 100,000 people belong – announced a ban on LGBT+ activities, saying they did not want to wait for the bill to be passed. 

 

 

What are the chances the bill could be passed?

 

Some political analysts say there is enough cross-party support in the largely conservative Christian nation for the bill to become law.

 

However, the bill could face major hurdles, including pressure from international donors and foreign partners as well as legal challenges over whether it violates Ghana’s constitution.

 

In May, the United States and the World Bank called on Ghana to respect LGBT+ rights and said they were closely watching the situation in the country.

 

 

What are the next steps?

 

After the first reading, the bill will be referred to a committee for review before it is presented before parliament for a second reading and debate where it may be subject to amendments.

 

It then goes for a third reading before it can be passed into law. It will also require assent from President Nana Akufo-Addo.

 

Photo credits: REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko





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GEORGIA: Who are right-wing forces that attacked Georgia’s LGBTIQ+ ?

Who are right-wing forces that attacked Georgia’s LGBTIQ+ ?

By Gillian Kane And Mariam Kvaratskhelia

 

EU Observer (13.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/3edGWv2 – As citizens around the world mark the closing of gay pride month with celebratory marches and parades, in Tbilisi, Georgia, organisers and activists are fighting for their basic right to assemble.

 

In this former Soviet Republic in the Caucasus, LGBTIQ+ rights have long been a litmus test for democracy and tolerance.

 

On 5 July, Georgia failed that test when organisers of Tbilisi Pride were confronted with violence by counter-protestors and forced to cancel the march.

 

Georgian prime minister Irakli Garibashvili had accused the “radical opposition” of planning the Pride march in order to sow “unrest.”

 

Following his statement, mobs stormed and ransacked the office of the Pride organisers while Orthodox priests and others attacked journalists.

 

Police stood by and failed to prevent the violence.

 

These events illustrate how LGBTIQ+ advocates in hostile countries like Georgia – at great personal risk – must push boundaries to create the public space that will allow them to truly celebrate.

 

Pride marches, starting with Stonewall in 1969, have always been an evolution. Georgia’s LGBTIQ+ movement is diving headlong into that clash, yet also picking up some support in the process.

 

The day after the violence unfolded, over 7,000 people waving rainbow flags marched down the capital’s main street to the Georgian parliament. This show of solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community was brave and unprecedented.

 

Just weeks before Tbilisi Pride the ultra-conservative Georgian activist, Levan Vasadze, who is affiliated with the group that organised the counter-protests, held a press conference at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel.

 

Seated next to Vasadze as he announced his intention to enter Georgian politics was the American anti-LGBT activist Brian Brown. The moment encapsulated how even as US president Joe Biden tries to normalise US foreign policy, Trump allies continue to work to promote illiberalism abroad.

 

 

Bannon and Trump

 

Brown vowed at the press conference to engage support for Vasadze in the US, including from Steve Bannon, while also teasing the promise of support from “president Trump himself.”

 

Brown did all of this despite his 501(c)3 non-profit, the International Organization for the Family, which includes the World Congress of Families, being barred from campaigning for or against political candidates under US law. American authorities should take action.

 

Brown first rose to prominence in the late naughts with his campaign against same-sex marriage in California and his creation of the National Organization for Marriage.

 

After the battle against same-sex marriage in the US was lost, he turned his attention abroad becoming president of World Congress of Families in 2016.

 

Notably, Brown’s election to this position was announced while he was in Tbilisi at a WCF conference where anti-LGBT forces gathered to “establish a beachhead in the region.” In addition to his collaboration with Vasadze, Brown has nurtured relationships with illiberal leaders in Europe such as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and former Italian minister of the interior, Matteo Salvini.

 

The WCF was formed in Russia in 1997 at a meeting between Allan Carlson, an American academic and former official in the Reagan administration, and Russian intellectuals.

 

WCF has been designated an anti-LGBTI hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Brown continues fostering relationships with Russia and after Donald Trump was elected president, he worked to unite Russian and American conservatives.

 

Levan Vasadze, who made his fortune in Russia, also shares connections to the Kremlin. Alexander Dugin, a Russian ultra-nationalist who is widely considered to be the Kremlin’s chief ideologist—his nickname is ‘Putin’s Brain’—is a close associate. The two met immediately after Vasadze launched his political movement last month.

 

Vasadze’s attacks against the Georgian LGBTI community are well-documented.

 

In 2019 he organised illegal gangs to break up the first Tbilisi Pride.

 

Brian Brown was in Tbilisi and joined Vasadze before a crowd gathering on the steps of a church to protest the pride march. Though Vasadze was investigated by the ministry of interior for creating vigilante patrols, there were no consequences.

 

This year, Vasadze reprised his threats to organizers and the government, and to great effect. Tbilisi Pride was cut short because of violent intimidation, likely incited by Vasadze and Garibashvili’s rhetoric.

 

To fight this wave of repression, Georgian officials must condemn the violence and prosecute those responsible. And US authorities must hold Americans accountable to the damage they do to democracy abroad in violation of US law and against human rights.

 

 

Photo: Tbilisi Pride





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UZBEKISTAN: A chance to decriminalise homosexuality

UZBEKISTAN: ‘A small ray of hope’: an urgent chance to decriminalise homosexuality in Uzbekistan

As long as the country’s Article 120 exists, said one young man, ‘we will live in fear and homophobes will have power over us’

By Anne Sunder-Plassmann

 

Open Democracy (05.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/3hI14Xh

 

“Since childhood I have always known that I’m different. Deep down I feel lonely, as if I am a foreigner in this world.”

 

So spoke Rustam*. Like thousands of other gay and bisexual men in Uzbekistan, he learnt early on that, unless he hides his sexual identity, he risks tarnishing his family name and losing his loved ones. “What I experience, what I feel, my pain, everything stays inside me. I cannot even tell my friends and family. Their hatred of homosexuals is endless,” he adds.

 

Rustam also knows no one would be punished for subjecting him to abuse or discrimination; in fact, he could easily be imprisoned for being gay.

 

In Uzbekistan, homosexuality is illegal. Article 120 of the country’s criminal code punishes consensual sexual relations between adult men by up to three years in jail.

 

Impunity

 

Besides Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan is the only former Soviet republic where same-sex relations remain a punishable crime – a hangover from Soviet legislation introduced in the 1920s and 1930s. This is despite many other Muslim-majority countries having decriminalised homosexuality, including Uzbekistan’s neighbours – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – as well as Azerbaijan and Turkey.

 

But instead of committing to improving the lot of gay and bisexual Uzbekistanis, the country’s government officials and politicians have on many occasions expressed homophobic views in public. This reinforces widespread stereotypes and condemns members of the LGBT+ community in the country to live in fear of discrimination, extortion, imprisonment, and even violence.

 

A case in point is Uzbekistan’s new draft criminal code, which has been under development over the past few years. While human rights organisations have repeatedly urged Uzbekistan to use this opportunity to decriminalise homosexuality, instead the content of Article 120 has simply been moved to Article 154 – in a newly created chapter called ‘Crimes against family, children and morality’ – with the previous wording unchanged.

 

“This article gives people the right to abuse and discriminate against us with impunity,” one young man bitterly remarked. “As long as it exists, we will live in fear and homophobes will have power over us,” he concluded.

 

“I have never been beaten and intimidated like that in my entire life. I wanted to die to free myself from this torture”

 

Alisher Kadyrov, the head of the Uzbekistan National Revival Democratic Party, declared on his Telegram channel earlier this year that the country’s laws do not go far enough in criminalising homosexuality. Uzbekistan should “prohibit all forms of propaganda of homosexuality”, Kadyrov said, and the criminal code article “should stipulate compulsory treatment, imprisonment, revocation of citizenship, and deportation”.

 

In March last year, the chief consultant of Uzbekistan’s Presidential Security Council, Okil Ubaydullaev, told experts of the United Nations Human Rights Committee that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” that is “not approved by Islam” and “not in keeping with the Uzbek mindset”, adding that the general public is strongly opposed to decriminalising same-sex relations.

 

Despite this, in October 2020 Uzbekistan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council, whose members are expected to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

 

Living in the shadow of abuse and extortion

 

A young Uzbekistani man who was imprisoned under Article 120 in recent years reports that, during pre-trial detention, he was regularly subjected to violence by other detainees, while the guards looked the other way. He recalls that the days spent in pre-trial detention “were the most awful and disgusting of my life”. Likewise, when he first arrived at the penal colony, officers beat him and attempted to rape him with a truncheon, while he was treated with hatred and contempt by fellow inmates and prison guards.

 

Those suspected or convicted of same-sex relations have the lowest status in the informal but strictly imposed prison hierarchy in Uzbekistan. Guards and fellow prisoners regularly force them to carry out all sorts of demeaning work such as cleaning dirty toilets with their bare hands. “Article 120 of the criminal code keeps thousands of people in fear every day,” Shukhrat* told me, adding that “this article turns us into outsiders and forces us to live in the shadows”.

 

Unsurprisingly, Article 120 has also been used against heterosexual men. From exile in France, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia has documented cases of police officers extracting large bribes from pious Muslim men by threatening to open cases against them under Article 120.

 

According to Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Interior, between 2016 and 2020 a total of 44 individuals were convicted under Article 120, with 49 people currently serving prison terms for sentences related to it. But the criminalisation of homosexuality has implications that go beyond the number of convictions under Article 120. Police officers often use the threat of charging gay and bisexual men under the article, or of disclosing their sexual identity to family members and neighbours, in order to extort money from them.

 

“We live in the centre of Eurasia, but it’s as if we lived on a different planet”

 

Ravshan*, a young bisexual man, was detained after police burst into his apartment and filmed him and his partner having sex. The officers took Ravshan to the local police station, where “they suspended me from the ceiling using handcuffs, severely beat me, and tried to rape me with a truncheon”. After that, they laid him on the floor and an officer jumped up and down on the young man’s stomach.

 

Ravshan recalls: “I have never been beaten and intimidated like that in my entire life. I wanted to die to free myself from this torture”. When police threatened to imprison him under Article 120 unless he gave them $2,000, he paid up and was released. And it is not uncommon for the police to coerce gay and bisexual men to reveal details about their wealthier friends and partners. Ravshan later realised that his partner had cooperated with the police and set him up, possibly in order to avoid being himself charged and jailed.

 

Clearly, when in danger, gay and bisexual men cannot rely on the police and are left to their own devices. Take the case of Komil*. He provided anonymous online support to LGBT people in Uzbekistan. Last year, he started receiving death threats online. The callers somehow managed to figure out his identity and, one day, Komil noticed that he was being followed on his way home from work. In September, someone appeared at Komil’s house and knocked at his bedroom window in the middle of the night. As he heard the sound of a gun being loaded, Komil screamed at the top of his lungs and the person disappeared. The following day, however, he received another message to his phone: “We will destroy you and give your blood to the dogs!”

 

Like many others who have been targeted by homophobic activists, Komil did not report the incident to the police. In addition to the real risk of imprisonment and torture, there are credible allegations that many police officers collude with homophobes, who often disseminate the names and contact details of gay and bisexual men on internet-based messaging services, sharing videos of beatings and intimidation. This practice has continued with impunity for years.

 

“We live in the centre of Eurasia, but it’s as if we lived on a different planet, where it is normal to hate and humiliate, imprison and punish, discriminate and kill people simply for who they are,” says Shukhrat.

 

Moreover, the ongoing criminalisation of homosexuality and the widespread homophobia in society translate into gay and bisexual men being afraid to undergo HIV tests, despite the fact that they are a high-risk group and Central Asia is considered a HIV hotspot. This is because staff at HIV clinics have frequently disclosed information about their clients’ sexual orientation and HIV status to family members.

 

An outreach worker at one of those facilities recalled to me how “Ivan* did an HIV test. Staff at the centre asked him for his phone number. Two days later they rang and said he was HIV positive. At that point, they threatened to send the police after him and reveal to his family that he is gay, in case he didn’t show up at the centre immediately to give them his full contact information”.

 

While a draft presidential decree indicates the new criminal code will enter into force on 1 January 2022, until Uzbekistan’s Parliament approves it there is still a window of opportunity for change. Ending the criminalisation of homosexuality would help gay and bisexual men in Uzbekistan step out of the shadows.

 

The fact that some people have broken out of this hateful mindset gives some reason to hope. For example, the mother of a gay man recalls: “When I found out that my son is gay, I was thrown into a blind panic. I dragged him to imams and to psychologists to try to ‘heal’ him. I caused him so much pain. I often regret this. Now I understand that homosexuality is not an illness. My son is healthy. Now I only want my son to be happy”.

 

Rustam, for one, does not want to give up. “Despite everything, I still feel a small ray of hope that the authorities will remove this terrible article from the criminal code and that in the future we will be able to live our lives without fear of imprisonment and discrimination”.

 

*The names of the men interviewed for this article have been either changed or left out to protect their identities.

 

Photo credits: upyernoz / Flickr.

 





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USA: Presbyterian Church takes first vote on banning ordination of openly gay men

USA: Presbyterian Church in America takes first vote on banning ordination of openly gay men

By Anugrah Kumar

 

The Christian Post (04.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/2SNNbhP – The Presbyterian Church in America has voted to change a rule in its governing document that would disqualify all gay men from serving in its ministry.

 

The resolution to change the rule, “Overture 23,” was passed 1,400-400 at the denomination’s 48th annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri, last week.

 

“Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same-sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same-sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office,” the amended rule states.

 

The amended rule will go to local church bodies for a vote before the second round of convention balloting next year following which the language would be placed in the PCA’s “Book of Church Order.”

 

The Washington Times quoted Chris Norris of the Calvary Presbytery as saying during the debate: “Sanctification begins with one’s identity as a new creation in Christ. … Taking a gay identity flies in the face of the new creation.”

 

The denomination also affirmed “Overture 37,” which refers to pastoral candidates.

 

“…Careful reflection must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires,” it states.

 

“The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin. … While imperfection will remain, he should not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness (e.g., homosexual desires, etc.), but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus,” it adds.

 

During the annual convention, the PCA also endorsed Lifeline Children’s Services as its “preferred adoption and orphan care ministry” due to its “commitment to the sanctity of life” and not Bethany Christian Services, which recently announced it would be offering its services to LGBT couples.

 

The endorsement of Lifeline came three months after the Michigan-based group Bethany, which is the nation’s largest Protestant adoption and foster agency, announced it would begin placing children with adults who identify as LGBT.

 

In a statement to The Christian Post at the time, Nathan Bult, senior vice president of the historically evangelical organization, said that faith in Jesus is at the “core” of their mission,” but they were “not claiming a position on the various doctrinal issues about which Christians may disagree.”

Photo credits: Getty Images


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