Prayer vigils IDAHOBIT. To become welcoming sanctuaries all LGBT people and all who suffer discrimination?

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This article was written by Innocenzo Pontillo for the Christian weekly Adista Segni Nuovi n° 21, May 30 2020, pp. 7-8

During the lockdown, even the few churches that were allowed to stay open in Italy were empty and held no scheduled worship. Each of us felt left at the margins, excluded and pushed away from our own community. This experience of exclusion was available to everyone, regardless of their wealth, age or where they live. LGBT people very often feel like this, for no other reason than the fact that they love the way God wanted them to.

That is why this year, in Spain, Malta, the Netherlands, Chile, Poland and Italy, LGBT Christians came together with mainstream Christian communities to organise several prayer vigils commemorating IDAHOBIT (the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) on 17 May, as has been done since 2007.

The headline for this year’s commemoration was taken from Galatians 3:28 – “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”, a timely reminder that we should not stop fighting against any division, because we are all children of the same Father, brothers and sisters who welcome each other in our diversity.

Given the lockdown, vigils are taking place online from 13-28 May. As the organisers of the vigil in Oranjekerk, Amsterdam (Holland) has said, these vigils rememberall the victims of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, through their testimonies to tell of the grief and pain of violence and give space to hope, so that everyone might feel themselves loved.

But most of all, this is a chance to demand an end to all violence against LGBT people, and to be close to victims of discrimination, as set out by Padis+, the Catholic pastoral office for sexual diversity in Chile.

On IDAHOBIT (17 May), an impressive number of prayers were said online one after another from 9.30am until 10.30pm (ECT), from Spain to Chile, from the Netherlands to Malta and across Italy.

In his public message shared with those commemorating the IDAHOBIT vigils, Mgt. Corrado Orefice, Archbishop of Palermo, said: “In moments of crisis, and even more so during such an epoch-changing moment like this one, each society looks for scapegoats, which leads to brutal violence. May the commemoration of IDAHOBIT help to spread a message of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation, that each human person may be recognised and welcomed. Let us listen and open up to the original dialogue, the one that started with the very first question from God to man: ‘Where are you? And where is your brother, the one you put aside, neglected, eliminated?’”.

The Commission for Faith and Homosexuality of the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian Churches in Italy said: “It is important to pray for all LGBT people, and to reflect on the vulnerability that develops from fear and discouragement in the face of adversity. Even in this difficult situation, we want to remain supportive and open to our neighbour, and not give in to fear of contagion or, even worse, the contagion of fear.

Anna Battaglia, an ally and mother of an LGBT son, says that having a gay child propelled her to join a group of parents of LGBT children. They are committed to supporting their LGBT children and they have spiritually adopted all the children of the group. She reports that she recently met many of these LGBT children online, sharing their testimonies, and that they will be together during the vigils, heart to heart, to pray to Jesus and to remember how he promised that in God’s house there are many rooms, and there is no female or male, because Jesus and the Father inhabit our diversity.

In Poland, the group “Wiara i Tęcza” (Faith and Rainbows) have been collaborating for seven years to set up the ecumenical vigil broadcast online from the Church Parafia Ewangelicko-Augsburska św. Marcina w Krakowie (St Martin Evangelic-Ausburgic church) in Krakow. They pray for the opening of the Church and society to LGBT people and to welcome their relationships. They pray for Poland and also for Italy, tragically hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as for LGBT people who, because of isolation at home, are at risk of violence from their own families. They pray that legislators will never again approve a discriminatory law. LGBT people are tackling this pandemic like everyone else, and want to keep putting their efforts to use for the good of the Church and the wider society.

LGBT people and their brothers and sisters of good will from many Christian communities around the world hope that God and other people will hear their cries of grief and hope.

Will anyone listen to them? Will society and Christian communities ‘Enlarge the place of their tent’ (Isaiah 54), and make room for everyone, to become welcoming sanctuaries that support all LGBT people and all who suffer discrimination?

Original text> Tante veglie anti-omofobia per «allargare la tenda» a ogni persona colpita da discriminazione (File PDF)