LGBT forum in Korea faces resistance

Published: October 29, 2013

Attempts to discuss Christian attitudes toward gay people at the World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting held in Busan were derailed by resistance to engaging with the issue, according to one of its key organizers on Tuesday. In a country where a number of protestant groups continue to be a source of high-volume bigotry, the setback will be described by some as an inevitable outcome.

A group of Christian leaders who had been pushing for the issue to be discussed, including Dr. Gabriele Mayer of Germany, Rev. Catherine Christie of Canada and Rev. Lim Bo-rah of Korea, are now preparing an international LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) gathering in the Highwon Village Building in Yongsan, Seoul, to be held on Saturday and Sunday. They intend to explore an answer to the question they hoped would have been considered by those present in Busan: Should churches be considered as communities of just heterosexual men and women?
”During our preparations for Busan we felt some resistance,’’ Mayer, coordinator of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups, told The Korea Times.
”Our application to hold a workshop at Madang Hall (part of the BEXCO center in Busan) was declined, in spite of much encouragement from various people having offered workshops at earlier WCC assemblies. It seemed that some churches opposed the topic from the way that they put pressure on the WCC headquarters in Geneva. There is also a group from Jakarta coming here who were offered an exhibition space but with their name changed, with LGBT having been deleted.
”We do not know from where the pressure was coming, but there was pressure.’’  Mayer did not give an example of how pressure might have been exerted.
The issues involving churches and sexual minorities had been discussed at previous WCC meetings, including the 1998 general assembly held in Harare, Zimbabwe, the 2006 assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the 2011 International Ecumenical Peace Convocation meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, Mayer said. On this issue, what happened in Busan amounts to regression.
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