The sign. IDAHO 2013, Vigil of Prayer for Victims of Homophobia
The IDAHO Committee team, March 2013
Around the world, many faith communities and organizations mobilize on May 17th to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
These faith communities and organizations not only come together to highlight the intersections of faith and sexuality to remember victims of homo/bi/transphobia and to stand against religiously-based homophobia and transphobia but also, predominantly, to raise the voices of progressive faith leaders in supporting the positive role of world religions and faith communities in shaping inclusive societies.
This year, the IDAHO Committee, together with the European Forum of LGBTQ Christian Groups, encourages individuals, organizations and faith communities to be apart of the Global Prayer Initiative, and initiative which aims to bring together different faith communities, denominations and groups to bring their voice to the IDAHO 2013 celebrations.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
One of the simplest and yet most powerful ways to be involved in the Global Prayer Initiative is to organize a vigil. Vigils can be a powerful tool to draw attention to the mindless acts of intolerance and religiously-based homophobia and transphobia. Vigils carry a certain weight that are symbolic in so many contexts, whether religious, spiritual, commemorative or memorial. Consider gathering your faith community and come together to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia .
Sparking discussions and dialogue around homophobia and transphobia are a great way that faith communities can bring about change in their places of worship.
Interfaith communities also have the opportunity to bridge the divides between communities where there are still homophobic and transphobic sensitivities. Consider promote a dialogue between different faith communities, other religious denominations becoming a platform for information interchange and collective action.
Send a message via Twitter or Youtube with the hashtag #IDAHOglobalprayer. Tweet your thoughts and prayers using the designated hashtag or create a video offering your thoughts and well wishes towards those who have faced stigma and discrimination within their lives. Also, consider making a YouTube video with a warm thought or prayer in honor of those who have faced homophobia & transphobia.
WHY IS YOUR PARTICIPATION IMPORTANT?
Your action is important, because:
• Your candle can drive out darkness by raising public awareness of homo/bi/transpobia,
• Your prayer has the power to unite faith communities in fighting hatred, brutality and violence towards LGBTQI people,
• Your action can help build strategic alliances to further promote interfaith and inter-religious dialogue in your community, country or region.
BEST PRACTICES OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND INITIATIVE GROUPS
Here are some examples of successful initiatives aiming to combat against religion-based homophobia and transphobia in Christian communities.
THE CHURCH DECLARATION CONDEMNING VIOLENCE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS (NETHERLANDS, 2011)
Launched by COC Nederland (the oldest Dutch LGBTQ lobby organization) and LKP (the umbrella organization of the Christian LGBT movement in The Netherlands), a meeting was held in May 2010 to discuss the idea of producing a joint statement, condemning homophobic violence.
The signing was preceded by a discussion, led by Jacobine Geel, theologian and TV-presenter. Press coverage was good.
In January 2012 the group met again, to discuss how they wanted to mark the first anniversary of the signing. They decided that they did not want to have such a high profile, public event. Instead they decided to mark the day with a special service. As IDAHO coincided with the Forum Conference in Amsterdam, a joint celebration of the first anniversary was arranged.
A number of (local) representatives of church and secular organizations were invited to participate, together with many of the Forum delegates from over 20 European countries.
This time they were also joined by a trans-person. Delegates were impressed to see how so many different denominations (among which Seventh Day Adventists and the Salvation Army) could work together on this very important topic. For many this was in very stark contrast to the situations in their own countries. The group is planning a new theme called “What does a Safe community really mean ?”.
VIGILS FOR THE VICTIMS OF HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA
When the LGBT Christian group “Kairos” from Florence heard about the tragic suicide of a gay youth from Turin, they wanted to express their grief and anger. Together with other groups of faith and homosexuality in 14 Italian cities they started in 2007 with the “Vigils of prayer for the remembrance of the victims of homophobia“.
In the following years, a number of faith initiatives were held in a growing number of cities around the IDAHO on 17 May. First, it was coordinated by the Italian website gionata.org (https://www.gionata.org/) – an online center for discussion on faith and homosexuality managed by members of several Italian LGBT Christian groups, and since 2010 it has become a shared project of the about 30 groups within the “Forum of Italian LGBT Christian Groups”, and since 2010 it has become a shared project of the about 30 groups within the “Forum of Italian LGBT Christian Groups.
The liturgy helps express the grief and anger of LGBT people about the violence they have to face within a religious framework. The pious form makes possible what otherwise is excluded e.g. from within the Roman Catholic Church: i.e. to talk boldly about the life and love of homosexual and transsexual people. The Vigils of prayer also challenge the churches asking for their complicity with homophobic and transphobic violence.
The idea quickly spread over Europe and Latin America. Already in 2008 Vigils were held in cities from Spain and Ireland, but also in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela and in later years also in Germany; Malta and other countries.