LGBT Christians are keeping the faith in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, despite huge challenges in many countries.
They resolved to “support one another in prayers and to pray ‘for those who persecute us’ ” in a joint statement at the group’s sixth gathering, Aug. 15-18 in Kiev, Ukraine.
Participants in the forum were LGBT believers from Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic and Estonia, as well as from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States.
The previous forum was Oct. 4-7, 2012, in Moscow.
Their statement for this year appealed to Christian churches and religious communities to:
- Reconsider the common concepts of human sexuality in the light of Christian love and fraternal acceptance;
- Show solidarity with your LGBT sisters and brothers and their close ones, who are struggling with hard times of escalation of homophobia and transphobia;
- Open the doors of your churches and prayer meetings to God-seeking lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of good will;
- Realize that inaction in cases of homophobia and transphobia is as much a crime as inaction in cases of any other kind of discrimination and violence. Silence in the face of injustice makes you share the responsibility for it;
- Consider pastoral care for the suffering and ill ones, including those living with HIV, and their relatives to be the source of worthwhile and necessary spiritual strengthening and consolidation of religious communities;
- Deem as disgraceful and inconsistent with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ the behavior of those Christians and especially church pastors and leaders who condemn, insult and humiliate those who suffer and long for support, hope and salvation.
They also called on LGBT believers to:
- Not wait for positive changes, but become the instruments of those changes, seeking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
- Find in yourselves courage to open yourselves for personal witness and by the mercy of the Lord to get healed of internal homophobia;
- Respect your human dignity, accept your sexuality, gender identity and religious affiliation as mutually strengthening and complementary values.
- Support one another in prayers and to pray “for those who persecute us” (cf. Mt 5,44).
The statement focused especially on a passage from the Book of Joshua (1:9): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The statement was signed by:
- Ivan Savchenko, Chairman of the NGO “Association Queer-Credo” (LGBT Christian Movement of Ukraine), Ukraine.
- His Grace Volodymyr (Wilde), Bishop of Pereyaslav and Boguslav, Exarch in Kyiv (Ukraine), Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Canada.
- Yury Maximov, Julia Kuprianova, Baga Birgaut Open Christian Community Light of the world, Moscow, Russia.
- Valery Sozaev, Tatiana Lekhatkova LGBT Ministry Nuntiare et Recreare, Sankt-Petersburg, Russia.
- Rev. Maxim Bratuhin, Orthodox Church of Europe (Kirgizstan diocese).
- Mikhail Tumasov, Samara LGBT movement Avers, Samara, Russia.
- Rev. Andrej Leschishin, group of LGBT Christians, Lvov, Ukraine.
- Dennis Younga, charitable organization «Help the Life», Kiev, Ukraine.
- Valentine Tishko, cultural-educational project «Movement LGBT-сhristians of Belarus» Mysterium Fidei (Mystery of Faith), Minsk, Belarus.
- «Faith and Rainbow» («Wiara i Tęcza») group of LGBT Christians, Poland.
- Heino Nurk, Association of Gay Christians, Tallinn, Estonia.
- Mihaela Ajder, «С», Chisinau, Republica Moldova.
- Nazarij Nesevych, Avante Foundation, Lviv, Ukraine.
- Andrej Proceshin, Valeandr Foundation, Vinniza, Ukraine.
- Yulia Matsiy, Evangelical group for support of LGBT, «Gruppo Varco», member of R.E.F.O. Milan, Italy.
- Petr Svoboda, Prague, Czech Republic .
- Sergey Yasinskiy, Moscow, Russia.
- Olga Mark, narrative practice.
- Anyuta Markevich, Minsk, Belorussia.
- Andrey Rostovsksky, Rostov-on-the Don, Russia.
- Alex K., Vinniza, Ukraine.
- Maxim Andreev, Kursk, Russia.
- Ilya Zhdanov, Belomorsk, Karelia, Russia.
- Michael Brinkschröder, European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, Munich, Germany.
- Marinus Schouten, Global Alliance for LGBT Education, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Rev. Irene Schwyn, Walchwil, Switzerland.
- Rev. Wielie Elhorst, LKP — National Organization of the Christian LGBT movement in The Netherlands, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Florin Buhuceanu, ECPI-Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives, Bucharest, Romania.
- James Mulcahy, Global Justice Institute, New York, USA.