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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.

NEWSMAKERS

Cebu’s Deaf community taught community-based HIV screening

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this.”

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Helping Deaf Filipinos to help themselves.

Select members of the Deaf community from the Province of Cebu were trained on the basics of HIV, and on community-based HIV screening in an effort to “inform them that this issue is just as important to them, and that – given the chance – they can help become the solutions to deal with this,” said Disney Aguila of Bahaghari Center for Research, Education an Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, Inc.

The training is part of a project by Bahaghari Center, backed by collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyes to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) In Asia and the Pacific.

This project is also a follow-through of the public service announcements (PSAs) developed in Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to specifically tap the Deaf community.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

PSA deals in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

Aguila lamented that “perhaps because the Deaf community is often left behind in HIV-related efforts, we have a lot of catching up to do,” she said.

In Cebu City, for instance, even if participants recognized the importance/urgency of tackling HIV, there are sectors that are still “unable to go beyond their fear of talking about sex and sexuality.”

Noticeably, the Hearing community “may already talk about SOGIE concepts and so on, but – because we have not always been included in discussions, we’re still learning the basics,” Aguila said.

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This is why, for Aguila, every effort counts to “ensure that we are included in the discussions; and perhaps just as importantly, also empowered so that we need not be dependent on the Hearing community just to be able to access lifesaving services.”

Aguila said that “this development may not come immediately, but every step leading there helps.”

The community-based HIV screening trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

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NEWSMAKERS

Study finds no link between trans-inclusive policies and bathroom safety

A study found that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws/policies (in sharing public spaces such as restrooms) are not empirically grounded.”

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Photo by KangDooHo from Pixabay.com

Opponents of allowing trans people to use toilets aligned with their gender identities often cite fear of safety and privacy violations in public restrooms as reason for their opposition. A study now – conclusively – says that this fear is baseless/unfounded/erroneous.

In “Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Laws in Public Accommodations: a Review of Evidence Regarding Safety and Privacy in Public Restrooms, Locker Rooms, and Changing Rooms” – written by Amira Hasenbush, Andrew R. Flores and Jody L. Herman and published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy – it was found that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws/policies (in sharing public spaces such as restrooms) are not empirically grounded.”

To determine whether a relationship exists between nondiscrimination laws/policies and crime, the researchers focused on Massachusetts in the US, where at the time of the study some localities had transgender-inclusive public accommodation laws and others did not. The data were collected before the passage in 2016 of Massachusetts’ statewide nondiscrimination law that protects transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The research team compared cities and towns with similar characteristics that had such laws to those that did not. They then examined police reports of assault and privacy violations in these localities both before and after the laws came into effect.

The result – and to emphasize: There is no evidence that letting transgender people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks.

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It is worth noting that with the often close association of transgender struggle with access to the restroom, an earlier 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

The silver lining: This same study found that 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.

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Lesbian, gay and bi people more likely to be politically liberal

A study found that LGB people were more likely to have liberal social justice perspectives; and that this was especially the case for lesbian and bisexual women ‘due to their multiple oppressed identities’.

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Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos from Unsplash.com

We’re more open-minded – politically speaking, that is, and in our attitudes to social issues.

This is according to a study – “‘All the Gays Are Liberal?’ Sexuality and Gender Gaps in Political Perspectives among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Mostly Heterosexual, and Heterosexual College Students in the Southern USA” – done by University of Oklahoma sociologist Meredith Worthen and published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

The study explored sexuality and gender gaps in political perspectives among college students enrolled at a university in the southern US (N = 1,940). Specifically, the study explored sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, mostly heterosexual, and heterosexual); gender (man/woman); and the intersections among sexual identity and gender as they relate to politicized perspectives (liberal ideology and feminist identity) and support of politicized issues (death penalty and legal abortion).

“It is hypothesized that liberal social justice perspectives may be particularly common among LGB people as a group, and perhaps especially among lesbian and bisexual women due to their multiple oppressed identities,” stated in the study.

And – yes – the results confirmed sexuality gaps (heterosexual-LGB, MH-LGB, and B-LG) as well as gender gaps among MH and LGB students (MH women-MH men, bisexual women-bisexual men, gay men-lesbian women), though some gaps (B-LG and G-L) are in the opposite direction from expected.

In addition, there is evidence of a bisexual woman consciousness that relates to strong liberalism among bisexual college women.

The study also found that those who are “exclusively heterosexual” are “significantly” less likely to be liberal.

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So – yes – in a gist: Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to be liberal in their political views and attitudes to social issues.

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#KaraniwangLGBT

Photos from the fringes of the rainbow

How Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT eyes to help broaden LGBTQIA representation in the Philippines by documenting those at the fringes of the rainbow. As editor Michael David Tan said: “To really engage, we have to allow others to shine. Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

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On June 13, 2015, fashion designer Veejay Floresca – who happens to be a transgender woman – alleged that she was almost refused entry by high-end bar Valkyrie in Taguig City.

“Because: 1. that venue was frequented by the so-called ‘high and mighty’ and the social climbing crowd; 2. one of the owners of the venue is a local celebrity in the person of Vice Ganda; and 3. Floresca, herself, was a mini-celebrity, the ‘Valkyrie issue’ made a big splash in the news,” recalled Michael David C. Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine.

TV personality Boy Abunda – an openly gay man himself – interviewed Floresca in ABS-CBN; and national dailies like Inquirer and The Philippine Star tackled Floresca’s “almost non-entry” into an exclusive bar.

But also around that time – on June 22, 2015 – Michael David interviewed another transgender woman: Claire Balabbo. Claire was one of the 96 contractual employees of Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna who decided to launch a sudden strike after they were told on May 16, 2015 to stop reporting to work by May 18.

“While a handful of alternative media picked the picketers’ story (for instance, Altermidya), this story remained largely ignored,” Michael David said.

And for Tan, this highlighted a “sad reality”, an “imbalance that should embarrass us all” because of the “seemingly too apparent preference to provide coverage to the issues of the rich and famous; but not of those at the fringes of society.”

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Murielle

Ryan B.

Sarah

Vien

Aside from her issues as a contractual worker, Claire also encountered work-related discrimination as a trans woman – e.g. when she just started working for Tanduay Distillers Inc., the HR office allegedly forced her to cut her hair, else risk getting fired from work; and she was physically harassed at work, though the HR office allegedly just dismissed her claim since “all workers were ‘male’ anyway” and that the co-workers may have just been joking around (as boys do).

Particularly looking at the Valkyrie versus Tanduay issues superficially, one is about accessing a space to party; while the other is about being able to work decently to make a living.

This helped drive the development of #KaraniwangLGBT, with Michael David starting to photo-document “LGBTQIA Filipinos at the fringes of the rainbow,” he said.

Michael David said that “in no way is this effort belittling the issues raised in occurrences like the Valkyrie debacle – e.g. access to space. Instead, this is an attempt to ‘give face’ to those who do not usually have the same access to, say, media and representation.”

Aian

Aris

Bunny

Claire

#KaraniwangLGBT became a section in Outrage Magazine, with the effort to tell the stories of “common LGBTQIA people” bringing Michael David (and the staff of Outrage Magazine) all over the Philippines. And what – initially – started as a photo campaign evolved, with this section now also telling the stories of the subjects via write-ups and mini-documentaries.

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To date, Michael David has already photographed/documented – among others – members of the LGBTQIA community who are also Moros, sex workers, church workers, HIV advocates, differently-abled/PWDs, PLHIVs, members of Lumad communities, contractual workers, homeless, victims of domestic abuse, et cetera.

Jelly Ace

Mara

Marimar

MMK

“To really engage, we have to allow others to shine,” Michael David said. “Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

n.b.
Following Floresca’s media tour, Valkyrie eventually amended its policy to allow trans women to party in its premises. But the “Valkyrie effect” was minimal – e.g. only Valkyrie made changes; and was Taguig City, where Valkyrie is located, still does not have an anti-discrimination ordinance, so venues there can still opt to implement discriminatory policies similar to what got Valkyrie in hot water.

Balabbo was not able to return to work. She now helps other contractual workers in other factories/plants in Laguna to organize to also fight for their rights.

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PSA tackles in Filipino Sign Language what happens after rapid HIV test

What happens after you get tested for HIV? Particularly to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement was released on getting tested for HIV in the Philippines, and what happens after one gets tested.

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One of the biggest confusions re HIV testing in the Philippines is answering the question on “what happens after one gets tested for HIV,” said Disney Aguila, board member of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and concurrent president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow (PDR).

The confusion is not helped by numerous factors – e.g.: various testing facilities are, in a way, “autonomous”, so there are varying practices; and information about post-testing remains limited.

No matter the reason/s for the confusion, “the effect is the same: it discourages many people from getting HIV testing and/or screening,” Aguila said.

To demystify particularly rapid HIV screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on getting tested for HIV in the Philippines, and what happens after one gets tested.

The PSA is the third in a series of PSAs produced as part of a Bahaghari Center project backed by a collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

Particularly pertaining rapid HIV test, “we want to educate particularly Deaf Filipinos about post-testing – that, if you are non-reactive, there are steps you can do to stay non-reactive; and if you’re positive, help is available to help you access treatment, care and support (including getting antiretroviral medicines) so you can live a long, healthy life.”

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PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

Aguila stressed that knowing one’s HIV status is important to protect oneself and others around him/her.

If one is HIV-positive, then he/she can start taking antiretroviral medicine (ARV) that will prevent the HIV (virus) from replicating and thereby help him/her stay healthy and live longer/normal lives.

And if one is HIV-negative, then he/she can take steps to stay negative (for example, by practicing safer sexual practices).

“It starts with getting oneself tested,” Aguila said, “which is why we encourage people to get tested.”

Most hospitals and clinics can give HIV testing.

Social hygiene clinics (SHC) located in select barangays can also give HIV testing and/or HIV screening.

Various non-government organizations also offer HIV testing and/or screening.

There are also people who are certified to give rapid HIV test.

A series of community-based HIV testing trainings are given to select members of the Deaf community in Metro Manila/Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is to “empower members of the Deaf community to be more proactive in dealing with HIV by allowing the Deaf to help the Deaf.” These trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

PSA on getting tested for HIV released in Filipino Sign Language

To demystify particularly rapid HIV testing/screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on the getting tested for HIV in the Philippines.

Published

on

Getting tested for HIV is – as it is – already challenging for Hearing people, but “it can be argued that this is doubly difficult for Deaf people,” said Disney Aguila, board member of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) and concurrent president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow (PDR). This is because “aside from dealing with the ‘usual’ issues related to getting tested for HIV that are encountered by Hearing people (including dealing with stigma and discrimination), we also have to contend with language barrier.”

Eyeing to demystify particularly rapid HIV testing/screening to “help simplify the HIV discussion for the Deaf community in the Philippines,” a public service announcement (PSA) was released on the getting tested for HIV in the Philippines.

The PSA is actually one in three PSAs produced as part of a Bahaghari Center project backed by a collaboration between Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center), which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific.

PSA on HIV basics released in Filipino Sign Language

Particularly pertaining rapid HIV test, “we want to educate people that all it takes is a prick, and a person can already find out his/her HIV status… in less than 20 minutes,” Aguila said.

Knowing one’s HIV status is important, Aguila added, as a means to: protect oneself and others around him/her.

If one is HIV-positive, then he/she can start taking antiretroviral medicine (ARV) that will prevent the HIV (virus) from replicating and thereby help him/her stay healthy and live longer/normal lives.

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And if one is HIV-negative, then he/she can take steps to stay negative (for example, by practicing safer sexual practices).

“But it all starts with getting oneself tested,” Aguila said, “which is why we encourage people to get tested.”

If these are more accessible, most hospitals and clinics can give HIV testing.

Social hygiene clinics (SHC) located in select barangays can also give HIV testing and/or HIV screening.

Various non-government organizations also offer HIV testing and/or screening.

There are also people who are certified to give rapid HIV test.

A series of community-based HIV testing trainings are given to select members of the Deaf community in Metro Manila/Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is to “empower members of the Deaf community to be more proactive in dealing with HIV by allowing the Deaf to help the Deaf.” These trainings are provided by The Red Ribbon Project, Inc.

Other supporters of the project include: Outrage Magazine, Fringe Publishing, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, Deaf Dykes United and Pinoy Deaf Queer.

Continue Reading
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