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Protestant churches to create welcoming communities for LGBT Koreans

Mainline Protestant churches and church councils from Asia, Europe and North America issued “Choosing Life: Creating Communities of Welcome”, a statement outlining concrete steps for Korean churches in addressing the discrimination and inequality experienced by LGBT individuals and communities in Korea.

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Mainline Protestant churches and church councils from Asia, Europe and North America issued “Choosing Life: Creating Communities of Welcome”, a statement outlining concrete steps for Korean churches in addressing the discrimination and inequality experienced by LGBT individuals and communities in Korea.

“Unfortunately, the Korean society, where the Confucian patriarchy and the authoritarian structure of long military dictatorship are deeply rooted, especially the Korean Protestant Church which has grown rapidly since its foundation, has remained in place without any change in its perception toward sexual minorities,” said Rev. Dr. Song Jin-Sun.

The pro-LGBT statement was a product of the Ecumenical Consultation on Gender and Sexuality hosted by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) last May 17-18, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. The NCCK cited that the main forces that promote homophobia in Korean society are right-wing politicians and Korean fundamentalist/conservative churches.

“Fundamentalist conservative Christianity has strengthened its discrimination of and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community, and they have been strategically combining conservative politicians and conservative civic groups to strengthen homophobia and their logic of exclusion. Most sexual minorities are silent in church or they have left the church or been kicked out of church, or they have been turning their backs to the church and looking for their own God,” said Rev. Dr. Song Jin-Sun.

The statement hopes to counter this conservative perspective by stating, “God’s dream is for church communities that are welcoming and affirming of all God’s people. In making God’s dream a reality it is necessary that all forms of discrimination, hate and exclusion be eliminated… it is important to discern how churches and societies can work together to live God’s dream of welcome.”

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Experiences on ministries with the LGBT+ communities were shared by The Methodist Church in Britain, Evangelical Kirche in Deutschland, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ (USA) The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, United Church of Japan, World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

“The journey to inclusion of LGBTQ and two-spirit (2+) persons for the United Church in Canada (UCC) began over 30 years ago and is an ongoing process and reality in the life of the church. Today, because of its commitment to inclusion, the church welcomes ministers/clergy and lay members from other denominations who are seeking safe places to live out the who they are as LGBTQ2+,” said Rev. Michael Blair of UCC.

During the gathering, Outrage Magazine‘s John Ryan Mendoza, NCCP’s representative, shared key points from the gender and sexuality consultation “Love, Diversity & Justice” that gathered church leaders from nine Philippine mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic Churches in Quezon City last August 2017.

“NCCP’s member churches affirmed that everyone was created in the image and likeness of God no matter the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Sin is universal, although similarly universal is the love of God, so that churches are challenged to become a welcoming/affirming/caring /community to provide ministry for all. Members also affirmed the need to focus on human dignity, justice, and gender equality to highlight harmony in diversity,” said Mendoza.

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He added, “even with these affirmations, churches continue to struggle, particularly with changing contexts. These challenges deal with faith traditions, as well as with Biblical and theological grounding/interpretation of texts particularly on issues of sexuality and gender. With heteronormativity continuing to be the widely accepted norm, churches now have to grapple with such issues as the ordination of women into the priesthood, and restructuring of traditional concepts of marriage.”

The statement acknowledged that change in civil and religious systems and structures are urgent, and encouraged the churches in Korea to engage in the following urgent tasks:

  1. Advocate and support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities in civil society by opposing all discriminatory laws and practices which  prohibit  the right to equality as specified in the Constitution  on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity within the legal system; advocate for anti-discrimination laws and other national policies to be passed to prevent discrimination against gender and sexuality minorities, and educate for the eradication of discrimination.
  2. Conduct a three (3) year program (2018-20): to provide a framework for ministries with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities including a study program with the congregation members, visits to partner churches, developing guidelines for LGBT ministries in the church communities.
  3. Open itself to the gift of transformation by creating safe spaces of healing and strive to welcome and embrace LGBT individuals and communities without prejudice and eliminate all restrictions and discrimination in the church structure.

Further, the participants of the Ecumenical Consultation on Gender and Sexuality encourage the National Council of Churches in Korea to:

  1. Give leadership to the three-year (3) program for providing a framework for ministry with and among LGBT individuals and communities.
  2. Request the accompaniment of partner churches through a Joint Task Force
  3. Develop theological resources for the Korean church communities to appreciate a fuller understanding of sexualities and gender identities as a God given gift.
  4. Gather the stories and narratives of the lived experience of LGBT persons both in the church and civil society as an educational resource.

Participants of the ecumenical consultation ended by encouraging the churches and the NCCK to continue to create safe spaces for conversation and respectful dialogue. As well as commit to ongoing accompaniment and the sharing of resources and materials from their civil and religious contexts.

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Rev. Lizette Tapia-Raquel of Union Theological Seminary-Philippines and The United Methodist Church said, “We use the word ‘inclusion’ as if we are being generous, or compassionate. But actually, when you talk about inclusion, who includes? “

“Are we saying that as a Church, we can really exclude anyone? It is not us as a Church but is God who welcomes us all. Maybe we should change our language and stop talking about inclusion but start talking about welcoming, as God welcomes,” she ended.

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NEWSMAKERS

Biz with LGBT person in top management position do better than those that don’t

Organizations and businesses with one or more LGBT people in senior leadership positions report higher overall firm performance than organizations with no LGBT leadership.

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Diversity is good for business.

Organizations and businesses with one or more LGBT people in senior leadership positions report higher overall firm performance than organizations with no LGBT leadership. This is according to a new study called Examining the Impact of LGBT Senior Leadership Representation on Business Outcomes, commissioned by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and conducted by researchers at Marquette University.

“This study supports what we have been saying for years — having LGBT people in leadership positions, whether it as a CEO, a business owner, a part of senior management or on the Board of Directors, is good for a business’s bottom line,” said Jason Rae, president and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Simply put, diversity is good for business.”

The report looked at whether or not businesses had LGBT people in senior management roles and what impact that had on business outcomes. The research found that, of the companies who participated, 61% of companies had one or more LGBT persons in a top leadership position. By comparison, 48% had one or more people of color in a leadership role and 86% had one or more women in a top leadership role.

The study further examined the impact of that LGBT senior leadership representation on a variety of business outcomes. In addition to higher overall firm performance, the study found other areas in which having LGBT people in leadership reported significant positive differences over those businesses without LGBT people. Those areas are:

  • Social and Environmental Corporate Social Responsibility
  • High Performance HR Practices
  • Quality of the Workforce
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“Overall, organizations with one or more LGBT people in senior leadership positions perform better than other organizations,” said Rae. “This study helps reinforce our commitment to helping ‘break the rainbow ceiling’ and get more LGBT people in senior leadership roles. When LGBT people are present in leadership roles, businesses do better.”

The study found no differences between respondents with one or more LGBT people in senior leadership positions and those without LGBT people in senior leadership positions in terms of the number of LGBT supportive workplace policies and practices. The people behind the study speculated that “this non-significant difference with regard to policies may be a function of organizational size. That is, larger organizations typically have more formalized policies and practices overall including those aimed at supporting LGBT workers.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Sen. Legarda bats for LGBT anti-discrimination; forces snowballing of support for SOGIE Equality Bill in Senate

Members of the LGBT community found allies in the Senate, with Senators Loren Legarda, Migz Zubiri, Ralph Recto and Frank Drilon finally openly expressing their support for the SOGIE Equality Bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

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Forcing hands to openly support non-discrimination of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

Members of the LGBT community found allies in the Senate, with Senators Loren Legarda, Migz Zubiri, Ralph Recto and Frank Drilon finally openly expressing their support for the SOGIE Equality Bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Senate Bill No. 1271 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill was filed last August 1, 2016 and has faced an uphill battle in the upper chamber. Its counterpart in the House of Representatives was already approved in September 2017.

“It would be a great legacy of this chamber if we are able to pass the anti-discrimination measure during our watch,” Legarda said, prompting the other senators to also voice out their support for the bill. Legarda added: “I just want to give my full unequivocal, urgent support to this measure.”

In an Instagram post, Legarda stated the need to “give our #LGBTQIA friends the love that they truly deserve. After two years of exhaustive discussions, we should no longer prolong the debates on the SOGIE Bill. Let’s spread the love. No to discrimination!”

Senate President Pro-Tempore Recto said – for the record – that “I also associate myself with the statements made by Senator Legarda.”

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Majority Floor Leader Zubiri, for his part, pledged attention to the bill. “I commit to the good sponsors, Sen. Risa [Hontiveros] and Sen. Loren [Legarda] that we’ll place this on the calendar, the agenda, every day, so that we can tackle this anytime within the next few weeks”, Zubiri said.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon also expressed support for the measure.

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier noted that the said measure has been under the period of interpellation for 602 calendar days, since her sponsorship last December 2016. The Senate session resumes on Monday and leaves three session days for the bill to get passed before the chamber’s adjournment on Wednesday.

Two of the three senators largely seen as delaying the passage of the ADB – Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Joel Villanueva – are scheduled to interpellate next week.

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NEWSMAKERS

Catholic student councils ask senators to end debate, pass bill to end discrimination vs LGBT

Ignoring possible sanctions from their school administrators, student councils from seven of the biggest Catholic schools in Metro Manila released a unified statement expressing support for the anti-discrimination bill.

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The LGBT community has found unlikely allies: Catholic students. 

Ignoring possible sanctions from their school administrators, student councils from seven of the biggest Catholic schools in Metro Manila released a unified statement expressing support for a proposed bill being tackled in the Senate that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or SOGIE.

The statement, signed by student councils from the Ateneo de Manila University, University of Santo Tomas, San Beda University-Manila, De La Salle University-Manila, Miriam College, St. Scholastica’s College-Manila, the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde urged the “Senate’s leadership and its members to stop the delay on the SOGIE Equality Bill and move for its approval”.

Senate Bill No. 1271 was sponsored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros last December 14, 2016 but has faced an uphill battle in the upper chamber, unlike in the House of Representatives that approved its version of the bill in September last year.

“In the Senate, It has been scheduled for debate 26 times, making it the longest-running bill under interpellation from Senators Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquiao and Joel Villanueva, since it’s sponsorship close to two years ago,” said the Catholic student councils’ statement.

The student councils expressed concern on discrimination against LGBT persons.

“Every day with discrimination, people of diverse SOGIE get thrown out of their schools and homes, outed and ridiculed in the streets, barred from full employment, and deprived of access to healthcare”, their statement read.

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The student councils cited their Christian upbringing in pushing for the said bill.  “Brought up on the Christian values of love and acceptance, and as leaders and representatives of students in Catholic academic institutions , we urge the Senate’s leadership and its members to stop the delay on the SOGIE Equality Bill and move for its approval”, they urged.

The student council presidents urge the senators to end the debate on the bill.
“It is time to end the debate. We must forge a society grounded on equality – NOW”, the student councils concluded.

FULL STATEMENT

A SOCIETY THAT IS EQUAL
We are student government chairpersons from Catholic academic institutions united under the pillars of respect for human diversity, love and equality expressing our support to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression [SOGIE] Equality Bill – an important piece of legislation that secures the rights and welfare of members of the LGBT community through a government policy of non-discrimination and full acceptance. 

Every day with discrimination, people of diverse SOGIE get thrown out of their schools and homes, outed and ridiculed in the streets, barred from full employment, and deprived of access to healthcare. 

Every day with discrimination, LGBT persons live in constant fear of being stigmatized, harassed and, in many documented cases, killed due to hate. 

Every day with discrimination, members of the LGBT community are deprived of the full enjoyment of their rights. 

The approval on third and final reading of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the House of Representatives presents a hopeful development. In the Senate, It has been scheduled for debate 26 times, making it the longest-running bill under interpellation from Senators Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquiao and Joel Villanueva, since it’s sponsorship close to two years ago. 

It is time to end the debate. 

Brought up on the Christian values of love and acceptance, and as leaders and representatives of students in Catholic academic institutions , we urge the Senate’s leadership and its members to stop the delay on the SOGIE Equality Bill and move for its approval. 

We must forge a society ground ed on equality – NOW. 

Signed:

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Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña
President, Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila
Ateneo de Manila University

Mikee De Vega
President, University Student Government
De La Salle University-Manila

Kiko Santos
President, Central Student Council
University of Santo Tomas

Yhan Lumdang
President, Central Student Government
De La Salle – College of St. Benilde

Charlene Yanes
President, Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Miriam
Miriam College

Denise Elayda
President, Student Council
St. Scholastica’s College-Manila

Arapat Mustapha
President, San Beda Student Council
San Beda University

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NEWSMAKERS

36% of women and 51% of men believe sex organs determine gender

43% of people still believe that sex organs determine gender, compared to only 35% who believe they do not.

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Forty-three percent (43%) of people (36% of women and 51% of men) still believe that sex organs determine gender, compared to only 35% (42% of women and 26% of men) who believe they do not. This is according to Adameve.com, which asked over 1,000 adults if they felt that the sex organs we’re born with determine our gender.

Twenty-two percent of those who were polled (21% of the women and 23% of the men) said they were not sure.

According to Adam & Eve’s resident sexologist Dr. Jenni Skyler, on whether sex organs determine gender, the answer is “yes and no”.

“Many people are born with a set of genitals that match how they feel as male or female. For a long time, our understanding of gender has been binary. We know male and female to have a particular gender description, along with certain roles and expressions. Yet, gender is not entirely about nature and sex organs,” Skyler said.

This is particularly true to transgender people, who often feel their sex organs do not reflect their gender. Meanwhile, intersex persons may have atypical sex organs and potentially feel more ambiguous about their gender and gender expression.

“Because gender is a social construct, our society has evolved to allow for more people to sink into their body and feel the nuances of what their gender really feels like, even if it doesn’t fit into a typical binary box of male and female,” Skyler said. “Because we have the social permission to expand gender into a spectrum of various descriptors, many people are able to break away from the typical male-female boxes and allow themselves to feel and express themselves in a more unique gendered manner.”

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NEWSMAKERS

24% of women, 38% of men feel trans people should use restroom matching assigned sex at birth

A study found that 30% of people (24% of the women and 38% of the men) felt that transgender people should be required to use the restroom that matches their assigned birth gender. 

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With the often close association of trans struggle with access to the restroom, a study found that 30% of people (24% of the women and 38% of the men) felt that transgender people should be required to use the restroom that matches their assigned birth gender. 

This is at least in the US, where adameve.com, a source for adult products, asked over 1,000 adults if they felt trans individuals should use public restrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth. The web-based survey, conducted by an independent third party survey company, involved over 1,000 American adults age 18 and up.

The silver lining: A growing number (48%) of those polled (55% of the women and 43% of the men) said that trans individuals should use the restroom that matches their identity. Twenty-one percent of the respondents (22% of the women and 19% of the men) said they were unsure.

Dr. Jenni Skyler, Adam & Eve’s resident sexologist, finds these number encouraging.

To start, the development of “bathroom bills” inclusive of trans individuals need to be celebrated, said Skyler. “It is my opinion that every human on this planet is entitled to the right to safety in both public and private spheres.”

No study has been done similar to this in the Philippines. However, various institutions have already started introducing gender neutral toilets. In 2017, for instance, the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) – Manila approved the school’s first gender-neutral toilets; while Eastern Samar State University in Borongan City allocated LGBT-specific toilets for its students and staff. Even earlier, in Ateneo de Davao University, its president Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J. released a memo designating all single comfort rooms (CR)/toilets in the Jacinto Campus as “all gender”.

Ateneo de Davao designates ‘all gender’ toilets; initiates dialogue with LGBT community

Toilet access remains a contentious issue particularly among trans people. While cisgender people may not see going to the toilet as a big issue, for many trans people, using a toilet means choosing between using a facility that matches the gender assigned to them at birth or their gender identity. The act of using a toilet could, therefore, carry risks of discrimination, harassment and even assault.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How millennials’ financial attitudes, habits differ by gender

Compared to their male counterparts, female millennials generally report being much more risk-averse, skeptical of alternative investments – including cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer lending – and have, on average, only saved about two-thirds as much money for retirement as their male peers.

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As the saying goes, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” But when it comes to how each sex approaches their finances, the two groups might as well be from different universes, according to findings from the PNC Investments Millennials & Investing Survey.

Compared to their male counterparts, female millennials generally report being much more risk-averse, skeptical of alternative investments – including cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer lending – and have, on average, only saved about two-thirds as much money for retirement as their male peers.

When comparing how millennials invest, the study finds men have greater appetites for higher-risk investing avenues. Fourteen percent of millennial men report that they “embrace” risk – double the number of female millennials reporting similar sentiment.

“One of the foundational aspects of any financial plan is to determine your overall risk tolerance, and for members of the younger generation, risk can be healthy,” said Rich Ramassini, CFP, senior vice president and director of strategy and sales performance for PNC Investments. “People’s appetite for risk is often not on par with how much risk they can actually handle. Increasing your financial knowledge can help you determine whether you are taking on the right amount of risk.”

Though parents of female millennials started educating their daughters about saving earlier than parents of male millennials (age 11.6 for females vs. 12.7 for males), more female millennials than male millennials admit they are not as confident in their financial management skills.

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According to PNC’s study, male millennials are more likely to rely on themselves and knowledge they attain through media and internet sources. In fact, male millennials are twice as likely as their female cohorts to consume content from recognized national media outlets.

Millennials’ retirement savings habits

Forty-six percent of female millennials contribute 6 or more percent of their income toward retirement, compared to 57% of male millennials, the survey found.

“Millennials now represent the largest portion of the workforce in the country, and most members of the generation have decades to go before they retire. Because millennials have time on their side, they should make investing for retirement a priority early on in their career,” Ramassini said. “One of the best ways to stay ahead of inflation and help set yourself up for a successful retirement is to invest your money in a diversified portfolio designed to achieve long-term goals.”

To that point, the survey also explores the amount each group has in investable assets. Among respondents, 29% of female millennials report having between $1,000 – $9,999 in investable assets, compared to 17% of men. At the same time, 46% of male millennials report having $50,000 or more in investable assets, whereas only 32% of female millennials report the same.

However, only 28% of millennials report having a solid understanding of how to successfully invest their money.

Millennials’ employment rates and confidence levels

Approximately eight out of 10 millennials say they have full-time jobs (83% of men and 78% of women). Though the demographic has a high rate of employment, a relatively small percentage of respondents from both sexes agree they feel in control of their financial well-being (32% of women compared with 43% of men), and even fewer are confident they’re saving enough for the future (26% of women compared with 40% of men).

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“It’s critical that both female and male millennials take actionable steps – including making concerted efforts to save for retirement, participating in the markets and building a solid emergency fund – to ensure their future is not in jeopardy,” Ramassini said. “Given the findings of this survey, we encourage millennials to seek assistance from qualified financial advisors who can help make sure they are on the path to securing a strong financial future.”

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