New Ways Ministry relaunches #PopeSpeakOut campaign

With Pope Francis' trip to Uganda, Kenya, and the Central African Republic starting tomorrow, New Ways Ministry, a LGBT ministry of advocacy for LGBT Catholics, has relaunched its #PopeSpeakOut campaign, urging the Pope to publically show his support for the LGBT community and to oppose discrimination, criminalization, and violence towards its members.

The organization said that Pope Francis should affirm, among other things, that "Catholic teaching does not support the criminalization of sexual orientation/gender identity," and that every instance of anti-LGBT discrimination and violence is morally wrong. These messages would be incredibly important, given the intense violence against LGBT people experience in parts of Africa.

In Uganda and Kenya, two of the countries Pope Francis plans to visit, homosexuality is illegal. Homosexuality currently results in a prison sentence in Uganda. Last year, a Ugandan anti-LGBT law was overturned (it would have given members of the LGBT community life behind bars or even the death penalty); however, the bill is currently being reworked and some lawmakers hope to reintroduce it in the Ugandan Parliament. In Kenya, homosexuality can result in up to 14 years of prison time.

When reporting on this visit, it is crucial to get all information accurate. During the Pope's visit to the United States earlier this year, GLAAD released "The Papal Visit: A Journalist's Guide to Reporting on Pope Francis and the LGBT Community." Inside the playbook is a section of "best practices" for journalists to follow; one of these is "Give voice to the unheard," meaning that journalists should speak with LGBT people" in order to get an accurate image of the impact Pope Francis' words and actions hold. This includes speaking with Catholic LGBT community of the in Africa, where, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the number of Catholics on the continent has tripled since 1980, up to 18.6% of the population.

Thus, with the rising number of Catholics in the African population, it is even more important that Pope Francis speak in support of the African LGBT community. Furthermore, Due to discriminatory laws, the voices of LGBT people – let alone LGBT Catholics – are rarely, if ever, heard. We encourage journalists to speak with African LGBT organizations, such as the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya. You can also read first-hand accounts of anti-LGBT discrimination at Where Love is Illegal's site.

To learn more about Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church's relationship with the LGBT community, visit www.glaad.org/pope.

 

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