Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friendly Fire!

Since homsoexuality and transgender rights are a social and human rights issue, as an advocate for the human rights of the pink community, I would like nothing better than to leave religion out of things altogether. Oh, if only it were so simple!

Do folks think we don't get tired of upsetting the good-natured people who show their support for gay and transgender rights just because the happen to also be religious, when we take on religious fundamentalist attacks on the pink community? Do they really think I am obsessed with religion? Get real, people - I get so sick of it I don't even like to think about it anymore! I suppose though, it is easy to see why some may think we include them with the people who cause us offense!

There are many Christians in the pink community, just as there are Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths or beliefs.

The reason for mentioning religion - and particularly groups which identify themselves as "Christian" so often - is because our main resistance comes from religious groupings and mostly from the groups known as Christian fundamentalists - who often are proud to call themselves that too by the way - and they use religion as a weapon against gay and transgender rights, regardless of whether gay or trans people are of the same faith or not. In fact, they have turned a human rights issue into nothing less than "an issue of sinfulness" - and made it quite impossible to address their attacks upon our human rights without engaging in religious technicalities and argument.

While I may sometimes come across in argument as anti-religion, this is in fact untrue - I stand for the right and freedom for all people to believe whatever they will - and to follow whatever faith they like - I simply stand against the misuse of such faiths as weapons with which to oppress and persecute others, regardless of whether it is in terms of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, language or culture. One cannot campaign for human rights while turning a blind eye to the rest of society as a whole. Neither can one warn the people about the dangers of the groups aligning themselves against freedom and democracy without pointing out details, especially when they are clearly and unashamedly motivated out of religious fervor.

I must also point out that should open minded people of faith (gay or straight) who support fairness, equality and human rights and oppose bigotry, grow tired of having their religion dragged into arguments over human rights issues by both leaders and followers of their faith - they should also take this matter up with the religious bodies or leaders in question claiming to speak for all "true Christians/Muslims/etc" whenever they attack our human rights and dignity or campaign against us as "threats" to whatever is their flavor of the week.

The simple fact of the matter is, religion - notably Christianity - is being used against the pink community with the support of many Christians in general and it is impossible to take this on without getting ones hands dirty and causing some offense in the process.I agree that sometimes it may seem that they have drawn us down to their level in terms of fighting this fight, but we must engage our opponents wherever they present themselves. Science and medicine have shot down all their arguments against our human rights and sexuality - and so the only field in which they seem comfortable now is on religious ground. However I must point out that in all such arguments the bigots intent to persecute, derogate and oppress the pink community (using religion) is clear - while our arguments are to prevent this from happening.

Certain groups in South Africa (such as the ACDP, CDA, Family policy Institute, Focus on the Family, Christian Action Network, PE Church Net, Transformation Christian Network, Christian View Network) seem to have blanket support in terms of the silence of their communities - or vocal support - when it comes to using religion as a blunt instrument against the pink community. Certain denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church follows strictly discriminatory policies and their head - the Pope - regularly indulges in making homophobic comments and policies.

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I have great respect and admiration for people who show support and friendship to the pink community - GLBTI or straight - and especially so if they happen to belong to churches or religions which seem to adopt an anti-diversity stance, as they very often take flak from their friends and family for doing so - we really do not want to make them victims of "friendly fire" also.

I feel I should also point out that wherever possible in terms of debate and also in articles which address sensitive issues, I try to differentiate as clearly as possible between the bigots who attack and oppose our humanity and equality - and the loving decent Christians and people of faith (regardless of which faith) who support us and support freedom, equality and civil rights.

Sometimes, I am sure you may agree, it is quite difficult to express in every case, but as the old saying goes, one cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. I will of course continue to try my utmost to differentiate between "bigots" and "non-bigot Christians".

So if you are pro-equality and for gay and trans rights and feel offended, please accept my apologies - but if you are a bigot, tough - and until you cease and desist hijacking religion, you can expect more of the same.

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