Just like Pope Francis, Religious leaders should embrace the LGBTQ+ Persons
Recently during his weekly general audience, Pope Francis advised parents not to see sexual orientation in their children and instead accompany them in their journey. The Pope has asked parents to refrain from condemning their children for being gay.
The pope further mentioned that it is not proper to kick LGBTQ children out of families, or make their lives miserable because of who they are and further added that they have the right to be in a family.
In Kenya and beyond, we have seen the emergence and the continuous work of anti-gender groups who are attacking the human rights of women, children, and LGBTQI+ people by framing gender rights as a threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of children. Anti-gender groups are conservative, faith-based and operate under the umbrella term ‘anti-gender ideology.
The primary strategy of anti-gender groups is to manufacture moral panic by crafting easy-to-understand narratives based on misinformation and selective interpretations of human rights, religious teachings, negative cultural beliefs and scientific evidence that create a divided worldview: ‘good people’ vs. ‘bad people’.
‘Good people’ are those who uphold the heterosexual, patriarchal family as society’s core and defend parental authority over the principle of the best interest of the child. They claim to protect children from an alleged ‘internationally-funded agenda’ that seeks to corrupt and harm them – part of this agenda are LGBT, women’s, and children’s rights defenders, labelled as ‘evil’. This narrative is highly effective in creating moral panic, social outrage and mobilizing political support for gender-normative candidates across parties and regions.
Part of these anti-gender groups continue to discriminate and condemn people because of their sexual orientation and who they choose to be. Anti-gender groups are part of a long-term political, social, and cultural strategy that has been in the making for decades, and that feeds on social unrest and cultural anxieties. Moral panic’s main role is political, particularly in contexts of economic, social, and political upheaval and anxiety, as it creates solidarity among different groups and channels outrage into concrete political actions; like development of laws and policies as well as heavy resource allocation to discriminative actions.
Religious and opposition in groups have greatly opposed access and provision of Age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education on many grounds, among them being issues like LGBTQ+ rights, access to safe abortion for rape and defilement survivors is recognized within the constitution of Kenya 2010. Addressing issues around rights of the sexual minorities; LGBTQ+ is important to ensure no violence or discrimination is witnessed and access to age appropriate information and education around stigma is vital at all levels.
Unfortunately the religious and opposition groups have clearly and openly discriminated the sexual and gender minorities terming them “sick”, pedophiles and need treatment. This is a sad and worrying trend as it increases stigma and discriminating which in turn might lead to violence and even fear of accessing services within health facilities. Religious and opposition groups have been spreading misinformation against access and enjoyment of human rights of all groups particularly the LGBTQ+
Children, Women and LGBTQ+ People have felt a huge impact with Limited access to Sexual Reproductive Health services, including contraception and Comprehensive Sexuality Education affecting women, children and LGBTI+ people – particularly girls. Increased violence in online social spaces has been rampant and lack of protection for LGBTQ+ people especially young people. Although these efforts have been essential in recognizing the predicament of LGBTIQ+ youth, their rights are still not widely enforced.
Religious groups must stop blocking the access and enjoyment of human rights for LGBTQ+ Groups and persons and should embrace diversity and inclusion just like Pope Francis and totally ensure that they are not using their spaces to condemn or discriminate against anyone because of who they are or who they choose to be.
Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Youth Expert
VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M20M5XhmFE