The Church of Scotland‘s ruling general assembly has voted to allow congregations in Scotland to admit gay ministers, if they elect to do so, in a radical departure from more than 450 years of history and ending a four year long argument.
The ‘gay ministers’ issue has dominated discussion within the church for some time after an openly gay minister, Scott Rennie, was selected to lead a parish in Aberdeen in 2009.
The general assembly rejected a motion which would have made gay ordination – solely for ministers in civil partnerships or who are celibate – the default position of the Church of Scotland, by 340 votes to 282.
The Bishop of Durham Justin Welby has been named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England. The Eaton and Cambridge University educated man is a former oil trader and has only been the Bishop of Durham for a year will take of from the current archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams towards the end of the year.
Only last month, Dr Williams, admitted the Church of England’s attitude to gay relationships had often been harmful to gay people he had also said that while his leadership was “wrong” not to have advocated gay equality, David Cameron was wrong to have embarrassed the church over the issue of equal marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, claimed in one of his last major public lectures before he steps down toward the end of this year, that the Church of England’s attitude towards gay relationships has often been harmful to people.
Only last month Dr Williams said that while the Church of England was “wrong” not to have advocated for gay equality, the Prime Minister David Cameron was also wrong to embarrass the church over the issue.
During the lecture to the religious theologian think tank ‘Theos’ earlier this week the Archbishop also suggested the church could and should learn some lessons from its passed mistakes.
Most religious organisations in New Zealand have declared that they will not perform same-sex marriages even if the bill currently before the parliament for marriage equality passes.
Unsurprisingly the Catholic Church instigated the aggressive stand against gay people and together with Anglican, Baptist, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and orthodox Jewish religious groups and churches have all indicated their opposition to equality.
Anwar Ghani, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, told local New Zealand media that same-sex marriage was unacceptable under Muslim law. ‘Our position is very clear – Islam does not allow marriages of same sex. Islam views marriage not just for recreation, but for procreation,’ he told New Zealand media, Stuff.
The Alliance Party has voted in support of legislation to allow gay civil marriage. Party leader David Ford said the vote followed months of consultation with party members and associations. He said the proposals included safeguards for religious groups so they would not be forced into allowing their premises to be used. “Alliance has always stood for a progressive and equal society,” Mr Ford said, “Alliance will oppose any form of discrimination, whether it is based on age, race, disability, gender or sexual orientation. There are equality issues in allowing those in a same sex relationship to have only civil partnerships, which is seen as discriminatory. The motion also called for protection for faith groups, to ensure they are not forced to act contrary to their beliefs.”
According to recent reports a not a single religious group has so far made a complaint following a decision by the government to grant equal rights to GLBT citizens. Earlier this year the Home Ministry of Nepal had agreed to grant citizenship to those identifying themselves as lesbian gay bisexual or trans-gender.
During an interview openly gay lawmaker, Sunil Babu Pant, drew comparisons with other countries, where religious opposition to equal rights for LGBT people has been massive, he told the Asia Times. He said that in other countries, religious groups were: ”Into everything except religion itself, but in Nepal, religious institutions have remained pretty pure, and are more focused on the religious aspect.”
The situation in Nepal was a stark contrast with the equivalent in Delhi three years ago, where, upon the legalisation of LGBT rights, Hindus and Muslims, typically opposed to one another, joined forces to attack the decision by their government. He said the LGBT community has been “mainstreamed” and that social acceptance is on the increase. One problem still, he said was that trans people still found it difficult to get jobs, but that the situation was rapidly improving.
According to Pant, the move towards equal rights for LGBT people started in late 2007, with a governmental decision to provide equal rights for all. He said that religious groups promptly accepted the decision along side their political, or human-rights counterparts.
Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday said he was giving $2.5 million to the campaign to defend Washington state’s gay marriage law, weighing in on an issue that is hotly debated in many places across the U.S.
With the gift, Washington United for Marriage says it has raised more than $5 million for Referendum 74 on the November ballot. Last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmerand co-founder Bill Gates each donated $100,000.
“It’s a game changer for us,” campaign manager Zach Silk said of the Bezos gift. “It puts us in unique position to win.”
Breaking news from the the northern part of the UK, The Scottish cabinet is expected to discuss plans to legislate for same-sex marriage when it meets later. SNP ministers, who favour the move, are due to announce legislation later this week in the wake of a consultation which resulted in 80,000 responses.
The proposals, if passed would see Scotland be the first part of the UK to allow full same sex marriage, already the policy has provoked opposition from some anti-gay religious groups, including the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland.
Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches, which is the same conditions and rules as the proposed bill for England and Wales.
Google has launched a campaign called ‘Legalise Love’, aimed at pushing for gay rights in countries with anti-homosexuality laws.
Despite the title, the initiative is not about promoting marriage equality. Instead, a Google spokesperson said the campaign will “promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books”.
What will reportedly be Taiwan’s first gay Buddhist wedding shall be held in Taoyuan County next month, according to the Taipei Times:
“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said in a telephone interview.
The 30-year-old … said that marriage never crossed her mind until she saw a movie last year.
The film portrayed two lesbians whose ill-fated relationship concluded after one died and the other was left heartbroken over the denial of spousal benefits.
“It’s so sad,” Huang said, who plans to wed her partner of seven years on Aug. 11 at a Buddhist altar …
There shall be blessings, chants, and lectures from Buddhist masters on marriage. The ceremony won’t be legally binding.