LGBT Activists Hold Two-day Vigil Outside Archbishop’s Office

Protesters urge Vatican to sign United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 22, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Carlos Perez de Alejo, Media Director
Cell: (321) 948-3423 Email: carlos@soulforce.org
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(New York, NY)- Beginning on Wednesday, April 22, members of Soulforce and its allies will hold a two-day vigil outside the office of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s Ambassador to the United Nations, to encourage the Vatican to sign the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which protects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The historic declaration, drafted by France and the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, condemns “human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty” and “arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights.” Indeed, being gay or lesbian is still illegal in nearly 80 countries and subject to the death penalty in at least seven. 

French Minister of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs Rama Yade initiated the effort in early 2008 to craft a declaration in defense of LGBT people, and on December 18, 2008, Ambassador Jorge Arg塚ィヘ妺契ello of Argentina read the first declaration on LGBT rights in the General Assembly.

While nearly 70 of the 192 member countries of the UN have signed the declaration, including the United States, many remain opposed to the statement.  Archbishop Migliore was among the first to criticize the declaration, claiming it could be used to pressure countries to recognize same-sex marriage.

“If adopted,” said Migliore, “they would create new and implacable discriminations.  For example, states which do not recognize same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

Soulforce sent a letter to the Archbishop in New York City, calling on him to take a personal stand against the denigration of LGBT people and to work with the Vatican on respecting the human rights of everyone.  For nearly a decade Soulforce has challenged the Roman Catholic Church to adhere to the value of inclusion, and on April 22 they will continue that challenge.

The vigil in New York City will coincide with similar actions in solidarity with Soulforce’s demands in Little Rock, AR; Dallas, Tx; Phoenix, AZ; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; and New Haven, CT. 

“We want to remind the Vatican,” notes Haven Herrin of Soulforce, “that the only path to justice is dignity and respect for all people.”

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit www.soulforce.org

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