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Gays debate: Culture vs religion

THE church across the globe is coming under increasing pressure to officially recognise and embrace homosexuality, with some self-proclaimed gay pastors claiming that misinterpretation of scriptures was used against their sexual orientation.

THE church across the globe is coming under increasing pressure to officially recognise and embrace homosexuality, with some self-proclaimed gay pastors claiming that misinterpretation of scriptures was used against their sexual orientation.

By Veneranda Langa recently in Germany

Although most parts of Europe now officially recognise homosexuality as a human and sexual right, the church and African society — which regard dissident sexualities as an abomination — have stood their ground against the practice.

During a meeting organised by the German Foreign Affairs ministry in Berlin recently, attendants decried what they described as persecution of sexual minorities in Africa’s religious communities. The meeting was attended by gay rights activists from Germany, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Ivory Coast and the Middle East.

Most attendants were shocked by the presence of ordained gay pastors from Christian churches as well as Moslem Imams, whose religions traditionally reject homosexuality.

The pastors are part of the worldwide lobby pushing for the acceptance of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGTBI) people in religious organisations and demanding an end to their persecution.

President Robert Mugabe, a well known critic of homosexuality underlined by his branding of gays as “worse than dogs and pigs”, came under attack for his stance.

The managing director of the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE), Tim Kuschnerus, who was among the participants, said from as early as the late 1980s, Mugabe’s anti-gay sentiments had started influencing thought in the church.

“During a meeting on the issue in 1989, Harare, Zimbabwe, it was already clear that some churches were protesting against plenary meetings because of statements by Mugabe. They were going to protest against Mugabe,” he said.

In Germany, gay people are often seen openly kissing and showing intimate affection for each other in public. Pro- homosexual African delegates said homosexuals were in danger in their countries and some of them were victims of “correctional rape” or murder.

A South African cleric, Reverend Judith Kotzé (41), from Cape Town, is a lesbian pastor with the Dutch Reformed Church. She said she was legally married to her gay partner.

“Homosexuals are acceptable to God because He created them that way,” argued Kotzé, who at a glimpse looks like any other heterosexual woman, smartly dressed, but speaks with a notable baritone which betrays masculine inclinations.

She bemoaned the brutality visited on South Africa’s LGBTI, some of whom she said have been “killed brutally like goats at the slaughter” and others raped by men who “wanted to teach them to behave like normal women”.

“Campaign groups say at least more than 500 gay women are raped each year allegedly to ‘correct their situation’,” she said. Kotzé said the South African constitution protected the rights of LGBTI people, but whenever they were victimised government was not acting.

“The United Nations has tried to push for the rights of LGBTI people, but we see less of commitment by political leaders to respect that,” she said.

Muhsin Hendricks, a South African Moslem cleric who was once married to a woman, but is now married to his gay partner, said the current attitude of Moslems on homosexuals was disturbing.

“They always say Islam is against homosexuality and that is how they silence you. Moslems are still suffering between loyalty to their faith and loyalty to their children who are gay,” he said.

Hendricks said the current attitude by Moslems on gays was that even HIV and Aids was a punishment for homosexuality. Although he is a father of three, he claims his previous marriage to a woman was not satisfying and lacked affection as compared to his current marriage to another man.

Nigerian gay activist Dorothy Aken’Ova argued it had always been part of some African societies to practice homosexuality.

The gay pastors and gay Imam from Africa claimed the Bible and Koran were being read out of contest by those against homosexuality. They argued the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not about homosexuality.

“Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed not because of homosexuality, but because it was being used as a form of rape and that was what was unacceptable to God,” argued one of the clerics.

Zaoga leader Apostle Ezekiel Guti on September 16 1995, led a demonstration against homosexuality and lesbianism in solidarity with Mugabe’s stance against sexual perversion.

“Our view as a Christian church is that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. It is without doubt that Zimbabwe has been and is a leader in good moral standards due to our rich cultural heritage and the Christian principles,” he said then in a speech.

While Europe has made tremendous strides to legitimise and accept homosexuals, there are still people in the developed countries who are against homosexuality, especially religious communities.