Sunday, 21 October 2012

On the Right Side of History? - Christianity and Homosexuality

The debate on rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people has not been so prominent as it is now for several years. The breakthroughs of a few years ago, with civil partnerships and gay marriage being legalised by more and more places around the world, at least appeared to put to rest much of the old bigoted arguments that in so many respects made LGBT people at best second class citizens - perhaps no longer outlawed for their sexuality, but by no means enjoying the same rights as heterosexuals.

But in the last couple of years, something of a backlash has emerged - parts of the Christian church have become ever more shrilly vociferous in their condemnation of gay people; and in Uganda, driven on by the urgings of evangelical zealots, the Government has even been debating whether or not to make homosexuality a capital crime. In the USA, the rightwing of the Republican Party has been complicit with this agenda, seeking to drive back President Obama's support for greater equality - one of the few areas where he has worked hard to deliver on his original promise of genuine change.

That 2,000 year old Scripture is invoked in determining the laws and rights of 21st Century people in so many parts of the world is a depressing commentary on how narrow and pernicious supposedly democratic politics have become - and how diversionary: the rightwing especially is happy to indulge in debates about sexuality, welfare and migration, portraying all three as threats to civilised society, as it shifts the focus of public debate away from the real issues of social inequality, poverty and unsustainable economics. It also shows how, in so many ways, old arguments are rehashed to provide supposedly eternal principles - old wine in new bottles, to use a biblical analogy - and to coat with a fake respectability arguments against one progressive agenda that were previously used against another, but would be deemed out of order now.

In this video, we see a powerful speech by a Christian pastor calling for legislators in the US city of Springfield to stand on the right side of history when it comes to laws on gay and lesbian people - but which side is the right one? Please watch to the end to see.

(With thanks to Michael Emperor of New York Green Party for highlighting this video.)

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