In what proved to be a bittersweet contrast in the way in which LGBT are viewed in different countries of the world; a pride parade in Philippines made apologies and tears flow while tear gas was used to dispel crowds gathered for a pride parade in Istanbul.
Islam and Christianity have never seen eye to eye over centuries but the one thing that never failed to unite both religions was their bigoted view of homosexuality. Well even this now seems to be splitting them in different directions.
At a pride parade this past weekend in Marikina, a city just east of the Phillipines’ capital of Manila, a group of Christians gathered to say something different: “I’m sorry”.
Members of the Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries stood at the main entrance of the parade holding signs that offered apologies for how the LGBT community has been treated by Christians.
Their banners read, “We’re here to apologize for the ways that we as Christians have harmed the LGBT community.”
Some of the signs had more personal sentiments. One man’s stated, “Can we hug you?” According to parade-goer Kohlin Lallabban, many took the group up on the offer.
“It was so genuine and most of us got teary eyed when we saw them,” said Lallabban.
The demonstration was part of the church’s “I’m Sorry” campaign, through which members seek to apologise on behalf of their fellow Christians for the way biblical writings have been used against the LGBT community.
Click here to read about Pope Francis’ views on LGBT.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the church wrote,
“We do not need the recognition of people but the heart-warming response of those who accepted our sincere apologies motivates and encourages us to continue doing this mission of our church.”
Lallaban thinks the act means an exceptional amount to the Filipino LGBT community, which has often been at odds with the nation’s heavily Catholic culture.
“It was just so empowering to have that kind of support from the very people who shunned us away.”
In sharp contrast to the love, tears, apologies and reconciliation that flowed in the largely Christian Philippines, Islamic Turkey made it’s LGBT community cry through the use of tear gas used by the police to disperse hundreds that had gathered to celebrate the pride parade at Istanbul square.
Campaigners from the gay and transgender communities gathered in the city center, brandishing rainbow flags, singing, dancing and managed to give speeches for around 40 minutes before police cleared them from the area.
Amnesty Turkey reported the use of tear gas at the marchers gathered and the detention of many among them. Organisers of this year’s parade said the event was banned by Turkish authorities while the governor’s office refused to comment on the same.
This is the fourth year in a row that the LGBTI march is believed to have been banned. In comparison to previous years when campaigners were not allowed to gather, this particular Sunday (01 July 2018) they were able to march, raise flags and dance.
The last time the pride parade was officially allowed was in 2014 when an estimated 90,000 people marched through the city centre, says Amnesty International.
The huge crowd was in stark contrast to the following years when the march was banned for the first time, seen by some as the beginning of a recent crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey.
Just a few hundred people took part in the 2015 march, which authorities banned because it coincided with the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and there were concerns surrounding threats from ultranationalist Islamist groups.
Similarly, parades in 2016 and 2017 were also banned for these reasons.
Organizers had hoped this year’s event, which was held after Ramadan, would be allowed. Ramadan or not, Turkish authorities still refused to allow the march.
What’s actually ironic is that Turkey was until very recently, considered to be among the most progressive Islamic countries of the world. In fact, Turkey had legalised homosexuality as far back as 1923 but it continues to have one of the worst records of human rights violations against LGBTI+ people in Europe.
While Christians, prodded by a progressive pope seem to be coming around to the idea of inclusion of the LGBTQIA community, Islam seems to be pulling away further, what with the sudden prominence of ultra-conservative political parties winning elections in most Islamic countries.
Written by:- Delshad Master