For more than fifty years, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) have increasingly become more visible in North Atlantic societies and in some additional parts of the world.
In America, openly LGBT people can be found in almost every town and city, every profession, in entertainment and news media, and in political life.
LGBT people have also been more visible in some, yet not all, religious institutions and faith communities. Even though increased visibility has brought greater understanding concerning the lives and concerns of LGBT people, a number of communities still have questions and are often confused about the religious issues associated with diverse human sexualities and gender identities.
Sixty parliamentarians from twenty countries gathered in New York City with leaders of religious right organizations from around the world for a, 'transatlantic summit,' organized by the, 'Political Network for Values.' The summit's declaration of commitments includes rejection of:
The summit's declaration also calls for religious freedom and, 'the right to conscientious objection in every sphere,' against, 'the tyranny of relativism.' The group is organized in part to influence negotiations that will take place in 2015 over the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.
During the summit, Austin Ruse of C-FAM hosted a press conference featuring Oscar Ivan Zuluaga - President of the Democratic Center Party in Colombia and former Presidential candidate Zoltan Balog, the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities, as well as U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Helen M. Alvare, Professor at George Mason University School of Law. Right-wing forces have been gaining power in Hungary where the government is led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was described by Der Spiegel as being, 'a man for whom democracy is something of a brother. CitizenGo, a conservative social media operation, is gathering signatures cheering Hungary's part in the summit.
During the question and answer session, Fortenberry stated the group's effort to get families included in the Sustainable Development Goals would not define gay families out of that term. Fortenberry's comments were either disingenuous, or reflected ignorance concerning the intense effort of Ruse, C-FAM and others to prevent any reference to, 'non-traditional,' families in United Nation's (U.N.) documents and international agreements. In a year-end email bragging about its successes in doing so, Ruse boasted that his group is committed to keeping, 'sexual orientation and gender identity,' out of human rights laws saying, 'we have been able to consistently stop this phrase from entering into international law.'
Polish bishops launched a campaign against, 'gender ideology,' that they say was being used to promote acceptance of gay relationships and the idea that, 'a person can voluntarily decide for themselves whether they are a man or a woman.' The bishops said that the World Health Organization and a European anti-domestic-violence effort were sowing sexual confusion among young people. Critics argued that church officials were using the campaign as a type of distraction from allegations of sexual abuse.
Conservatives have been fighting about gender at international bodies for quite a while.
Yet the use of, 'gender ideology,' as a propaganda tool against feminism, LGBT equality, and the very existence of transgender people has caught on among religious conservatives. Gabriele Kuby is a German sociologist and author of, 'The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom on the Name of Freedom.' She is one of the campaign's main participants. Gabriele, who is a Catholic convert said, 'gender theory,' will lead to tyranny. She said communism protects Eastern European countries from the sexual revolution and hopes they will now become a stronghold of resistance in the European Union. Gabriele's daughter Sophia runs the social conservative group European Dignity Watch and was listed as a participating in the Political Network for Values summit.
Conservatives use the term, 'gender ideology,' as a rhetorical device for denying the very existence of transgender people in quite the same way that a number of people deny the existence of those with a gay identity. The term appears in the use of terms such as, 'people with the same-sex attraction,' by those who desire to avoid acknowledging there are people with a gay identity.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops complained about the Obama administration's regulations implementing his executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bishops' statement puts, 'sexual orientation,' and, 'gender identity in quotes. Among the USCCB's complaints about the regulations is that they, 'advance the false ideology of gender identity - something which ignores biological reality.' The final report out of the bishops' synod on the family also included language that was similar, calling it unacceptable,'that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.'
America, in the year 2014, found marriage equality spreading to thirty-five states and the District of Columbia.
It appears as if same-sex couples in at least some parts of the State of Florida will have the ability to marry. It also seems that 2015 could be the year in which the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of state marriage bans. The Court will consider whether or not to hear appeals in cases coming out of five states. Marriage equality came to Scotland at the end of 2014, joining Wales and England. Marriage equality also spread to Mexico. By contrast, Slovakia's lawmakers amended their constitution to ban marriage by same-sex couples.
Marriage equality will become a reality in Luxembourg in 2015.
Ireland is preparing for a marriage equality referendum in May.
President Michelle Bachelet of Chile is a supporter of marriage equality, yet her government plans to push first for passage of civil union legislation, whose advancement in parliament prior to Christmas incited outraged protests from anti-gay evangelical pastor Javier Soto – who referred to lawmakers as being, 'corrupt,' and, 'dirty.'
Watch for more anti-marriage-equality collaboration from conservative Catholics, Mormon and evangelicals, of the kind witnessed at the interfaith gathering on, 'complimentarity,' in marriage that was organized by conservatives in the Catholic church.
Anti-equality conservatives have made, 'religious liberty,' their rallying cry as well as the centerpiece of their political and legal opposition to marriage equality.
Religious liberty is also the theme of the 2015 World Congress of Families summit, the first time the gathering has been held in America. The yearly summit is an international gathering of anti-gay and anti-reproductive choice activists organized by the U.S.-based, 'Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.' The Utah-based Sutherland Institute, whose President Paul Mero argued that a free society cannot endure if it tolerates, 'bad behavior,' is also organizing the event. Being present in America and in the global home of the Mormon Church is likely to bring additional attention to the summit this year, which will promote the religious right's claims that LGBT equality and religious liberty are unable to exist together.
The World Congress of Families (WCF) withdrew its official backing for its 2014 Summit in Moscow after Russia invaded the Ukraine and annexed Crimea, although the meeting proceeded and WCF officials and American Religious Rights activists like Brian Brown still attended it. One of the organizers of the 2015 summit is Janice Shaw Crouse of, 'Concerned Women for America,' who praised Putin's Russia for resisting, 'western LGBTIQ fascists,' and suggested that Islamic jihadists are correct about the, 'moral and spiritual bankruptcy,' of the, 'decadent West.'