Writing this week for Gay Star News under the headline ‘How did LGBT History Month get hijacked by the gay community’s worst enemy?’, National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson, above, deplored the fact that organisers had chosen to include religion in this year’s event.
I thought LGBT History Month was supposed to be a celebration of our past struggles and achievements. I imagined it was there to honour those heroes who had paved the way for our present freedoms.
What is there to celebrate about religion’s part in our history? It is one continuous catalogue of persecution, discrimination and hatred leading sometimes to lethal consequences.
The design for the badges and posters for the 2016 event was created by Gareth Marshall, of the University of Bedfordshire, who claims on the LGBT History Month resources page to have been inspired by the phrase “leap of faith”.
I chose this phrase because I believe It is a very powerful, and personal message. It is about believeing (sic) and having faith. both in one’s religion, and in oneself. It represents a risk we take for a better outcome and future, a push forward in acceptance and tolerance within and towards to LGBT community, and the strength it can take to come out as a homosexual, bisexual or trans person.
But Sanderson said:
Religious bodies have been the enemy of gay progress since the beginning of time. They have been cruel and vindictive on an individual level and relentlessly opposed to any general progress that might have freed us from a cage of fear and loneliness. It was Christianity that kept us in the closet, not just for centuries but for millennia. And it isn’t much better now.
It used to glory in burning us at the stake, but the Catholic Church has gradually, over the centuries, had its overweening power stripped away.
Now it has to be more constrained. That doesn’t stop it continuing to oppose any legislation that might make equality a reality in nations where it still holds sway. At present, it is fighting hard to stop Italy from legalising gay civil unions …
The current Pope, Bergoglio, is lauded as progressive, but as far as gay rights are concerned, nothing has changed under his leadership and nothing will. The hostility under Francis is as fierce as it has always been.
It is just the Catholic Church has learned the use PR more effectively and with the use of smoke and mirrors it has convinced many people that things are different now. They aren’t.
Even the supposedly benign and friendly Church of England recently threw in its lot with the Anglican bishops from Africa who mercilessly incite hatred against gay people. They demand punitive laws from their governments and often get them.
Islam, too, is intensely hostile to gay people and their relationships. Recent polling by the Pew Research organization in the USA showed that in 33 of the 36 countries surveyed, 75% of Muslims think that homosexual acts are immoral. And in some of them that translates into death sentences or long imprisonments for those having the audacity to love each other.
We have seen the horrible pictures of young gay men being thrown from high buildings by Islamic State fanatics – if that doesn’t kill them, the mob below is waiting with their stones to finish the job.
In India, the Hindu Nationalists have succeeded in reversing a court decision that briefly legalised homosexual acts. In America, the Mormons and the Baptists are relentless in their demands for anti-gay legislation.
In an attempt to appease the religious right, Donald Trump announced that if he becomes President, he will do his best to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will reverse the legalisation of gay marriage.
I get annoyed with gay Christians who continue to put money into the collection plates of an institution that is actively trying to take away their human rights. It is depressing that so many gay people remain under the malignant spell of religion … What self-respecting gay person supports an institution that hates him or her? And why have we allowed our History Month to be hijacked by the apologists for this endless persecution?
• Sanderson will be talking about his new autobiography The Adventures of a Happy Homosexual for LGBT History Month at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, Friday 19 February, 7.30pm, Free admission.
Hat tip: George Broadhead