Friday, April 25, 2014

Resolution of the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) for solidarity with those experiencing and resisting harsh anti-LGBTI legislation across Africa

UPDATE June 1, 2014: The following is the amended text of the resolution that was PASSED at the 2014 synod assembly of the Metro Chicago Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, on May 30-31, 2014. (The theme of the 2014 assembly is "Into All the World.")


WHEREAS, in “witnessing as an institution” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has committed to:  “speak out on timely, urgent issues on which the voice of the church should be heard,” and “defend human dignity” (ELCA social statement, Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, 1991, p. 1, 7); and

WHEREAS, “in the area of international peace we strive to strengthen our global perspective as individual Christians and as a church body, in spite of strong currents that push us to turn in on ourselves” and in taking up the task to “promote respect for human rights” and commit to “teach about human rights... and protest their violation” with priorities to “defend the human rights of groups most susceptive to violations, especially all minorities, women and children; and “in our own country to support a generous policy of welcome for refugees” (ELCA social statement, For Peace in God’s World, 1995, p. 1, 14, 20); and

WHEREAS, thirty-eight countries in Africa as well as other areas of the world are experiencing rising levels of state-sanctioned homophobia and violence through the imposition of harsh and even brutal  laws criminalizing homosexuality with sentences including lifelong imprisonment to the death penalty for lgbti persons1; and in some cases jail time for those associating with, found in the company with, advocating for or accused of supporting organizations connected with such human rights -- including religious leaders;2 and,

WHEREAS, in 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution 17/19 as the first United Nations resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented by South Africa and expressing “grave concern at violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” and establishing human rights for lgbti persons as an international norm (A/HRC/RES/17/19); and, 

WHEREAS, the detrimental effects of these discriminatory laws includes targeted violence toward persons; scapegoating; the spread of HIV/Aids through such violence, through fear, intimidation and limiting access to service and other human rights; limiting the ability and scope of vital NGO aid; and deliberately drawing attention from other human rights issues;3 and,

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “acknowledges that consensus does not exist on how to regard same-gender committed relationships” while confessing “hate crimes and violence against those who are regarded as sexually different sometimes have been perpetrated publicly in the name of Christ” and that despite our differences this church unequivocally “oppos(es) all forms of verbal or physical harassment and assault based on sexual orientation” and denounces the behavior leading to the violence against those regarded as sexually different (ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, 1993 pg. 19, 24); and,

WHEREAS, Metropolitan Chicago Synod has a companion relationship with the Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA), a relationship that “opens our eyes to the global challenge that Christ offers us today” through the lens of accompaniment, “an endeavor shared by mutual participation in the body of Christ” (MCS website, Companion Synod); and, 

WHEREAS, while South Africa currently extends same gender marriage and other rights to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual transgendered and intersex individuals yet is susceptible to the effects of harsh anti-gay sentiment and lgbti South Africans continue to face considerable challenges, including social stigma, homophobic violence (particularly “corrective rape”), and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection;4 and, 

WHEREAS, our companion synod is a participant in the Speak Out Campaign Against Sexual Violence in relation to the Diakonia AIDS Ministry it supports with ecumenical partners, recognizing that “violence against people of different sexual orientations is one of the causes that contributes to the continuous spread of HIV” and thus encouraging ministries to speak out and work to end sexual violence (Diakonia AIDS Ministry Newsletter December 2012 - February 2013); therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod stand in solidarity with those in our companion synod and throughout Africa who are experiencing and resisting the rising tide of hatred and harsh anti-lbgti legislation in many African countries, and be it further 

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, through its companion synod working group and in partnership with Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA), continue to call the synod to prayer as well as inform this synod and its congregations of other ways we can be in active solidarity, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, through its companion synod relationship in South Africa and appropriate other partners (e.g. such as the global mission unit of the ELCA, LIRS/RefugeeOne and the ecumenical community), facilitate further conversation to explore the global accompaniment we can offer and responses we can make to violations of human dignity and human rights in this developing crisis.

1lgbti is the initialism most commonly used across Africa for this human rights movement. Lgbti stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.
4See also Violent Hate Crime in South Africa a report submitted to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the thirteenth Universal Periodic Review May 12 – June 1, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment