Facebook reinstates homophobic ‘awareness’ page

RECENTLY I wrote about Heterosexual Awareness Month, a campaign against LGBT rights and marriage equality which is spreading ignorance and prejudice on Facebook.

I discovered their Facebook page in May and reported some of its content, which I considered to be blatantly homophobic. Read More…

Are you proud of your heterosexuality?

gay-prideDID YOU KNOW that July is becoming known as ‘Heterosexual Awareness Month’? Now that the month has passed, are you more aware of your own, or other people’s, heterosexuality?

I’m guessing the answer is no – and I’m guessing that most of you probably don’t feel the need for a particular time to be proud of who you are and who you love, because our families and society are usually affirming and supportive, reinforcing heterosexuality without a second thought all the time. In choosing this headline I have assumed, as our society does all the time, that everyone is (or should be) heterosexual.

Read More…

Stephen Fry visit to Liverpool LGBT youth group February 2013 – Part 2

IN FEBRUARY 2013, Stephen Fry came to Liverpool to meet members of the Liverpool LGBT youth group GYRO (gay youth ‘r’ out) to find out about their experiences of being young and LGBT in 21st Century Britain.

It was planned as part of his documentary on homophobia called Stephen Fry: Out There which was first broadcast by the BBC in November 2013.

Sadly the filming in Liverpool did not make the final cut, as the situation in places like Uganda and Russia is so horrendous at present that the producer focussed less on the UK and more on the international situation.

The production company, Maverick Television, kindly released the uncut footage to help us promote the youth group. This has never been shown on TV. Forgive the poor editing, I’m a youth worker not a film-maker.

This is part two (8 minutes), where Stephen Fry meets the youth group. Part one, where he interviewed me about the youth group, is here.

‘You’re not who I thought you were’ – supporting LGBTQ young people

This article about my work was published last week on the blog of Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people:


Coming out to yourself…
Isolation
Recognition
Acceptance
Confidence
…is the first step

FOR THE LAST nine years, I have had the pleasure of supporting young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexuality or gender identity (LGBTQ).

As lead worker of GYRO (gay youth ‘r’ out), the UK’s longest-running youth group for LGBTQ youth, I have seen changes in the age young people approach us for support and the needs they are presenting, which have called for a change in how we respond.

Read More…

A Call To Action as Catholic Church consults on Marriage and Family Life

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is calling bishops to Rome this October to discuss possible reform to controversial teachings

A CALL TO ACTION, a group of Catholics campaigning for greater openness and dialogue in the Roman Catholic Church, is calling for the results of a consultation on sexual ethics to be released.

The survey was commissioned by Pope Francis and sent to Catholic bishops around the world last November, with instructions to consult as widely as possible.

It tackled sensitive subjects such as contraception, cohabitation, divorce and homosexuality.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said the 39-question survey – designed to inform a Vatican conference on family life in October – had been enthusiastically greeted by rank-and-file Catholics.

Many saw the inclusion of such questions as a sign that Church teaching in such difficult areas might be reformed, and that lay people might be allowed a greater say in how the Church was governed.

But the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has turned down a request by members for the consultation results to be made public, although bishops in other countries have published their findings.

Pope Francis is calling bishops to Rome in October to discuss possible reform that considers modern social realities.

The consultation is part of the preparation for an extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on sexual ethics, marriage and family.

A Call To Action describe themselves as ‘brought together by our love of Christ’s church and our anxiety about its future’, desiring ‘to help create a climate of trust and respect for all where this dialogue may be fostered.’

Jean Riordan, chair of the group’s national leaders team, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme last Thursday that Church teaching ‘should be formed by consulting’.

She added that refusing to publish the results would suggest the Church was not sincere about sharing responsibility with lay people, and people who had completed this ‘challenging’ questionnaire would be saddened and perplexed if the results were withheld.

But Father Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, defended the decision, as orders had come from the Pope, via a senior cardinal, that the information should not be made public until after October.

He said that if the information was disclosed it could result in the views of bishops becoming ‘predetermined’ ahead of the upcoming Synod.

Fr Stock acknowledged there were ‘great expectations’ of the process, but insisted:

‘The reflection of the bishops during the Synod must not be predetermined by individual groups or by the concerns of northern Europe alone.’

This echoes recent statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of churches worldwide, that Christians in some African nations could be endangered if Anglican priests in Britain bless same-sex unions.

Other Catholic Churches which have published summaries of the responses, including those in Germany and Austria, have described a wide gap between Church teaching and the behaviour of ordinary Catholics.

However, Fr Stock ruled out similar action in England and Wales.

The Pope has signalled greater openness, and has said the Catholic Church is too tied up in ‘small-minded rules’.

As an openly gay man, in the first civil partnership to be registered in a UK place of worship, and a former trainee Catholic priest, the BBC approached me for my comments on this story. You can hear extracts of interviews with me and other Catholics from Liverpool in these audio clips below:

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday 17 April 2014.

BBC Religious Affairs Correspondent Robert Piggott interviews Liverpool Catholics:

BBC Radio 4 presenter Evan Davis interviews Fr Marcus Stock and Jean Davis:

BBC Radio Merseyside discussion inc. extract of the Radio 4 report:

For more information visit the A Call To Action website.

UK: Same-Sex Marriage Dawns, Equality Fight Continues

Warren Hartley and Kieran Bohan sign the Schedule of Civil Partnership at Ullet Unitarian Church in Liverpool

FIRST FOR EQUALITY: My partner and I become legally recognised as a couple on May 6th 2012 – the first time a civil partnership was registered in a place of worship in the UK.
PHOTO: Simply Perfection

THE CLOCKS WENT FORWARD in the UK last weekend, in more ways than one. The official start of British Summer Time with daylight saving coincided with the legalisation of same-sex marriages in England and Wales. So began an extraordinary week for LGBT equality.

On Saturday March 29th, lesbian and gay couples around the country vied to be the first to be legally married, with several timing their services as close to midnight as possible:

NEWS: Same-sex marriage now legal as first couples wed

An estimated 70 couples across England and Wales took advantage of the change in law on Saturday, and the media was filled with mostly positive portrayals of this landmark for equality.

A BBC survey revealed that 80% of people would attend a gay wedding if invited (though their headline focussed on the negative responses:

NEWS: Gay weddings: ‘Fifth of Britons would turn down invitation’

Twitter feeds filled with supportive messages from celebrities. Actor and comedian Les Dennis tweeted:

Sadly it was not all good news.

Read More…

Churches support LGBT Christians on Rainbow Sunday

StBridesFacebookCoverRainbow

St Bride’s Church, Liverpool, proudly supported Rainbow Sunday

RAINBOW SUNDAY came to the Church of England last weekend – Clergy and parishioners across the country wore rainbows to show solidarity with LGBT people in protest against the House of Bishops ‘pastoral guidance’ on same sex marriage, issued last month.

The campaign is backed by Inclusive Church, a group committed to working for a church that is welcoming and open to all. It is encouraging clergy to wear rainbow coloured dog collars during Lent, especially last Sunday, in response to the House of Bishops statement on same sex marriage, and to demonstrate unease at  the Anglican church’s position on LGBT issues.

Read More…

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