Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pope Francis to Meet With Married Gay Activist

Simón Cazal (left), executive director of SOMOSGAY, kisses his husband, Sergio López, during their 2012 wedding in Argentina.
Whether this will be nothing more than yet another PR stunt to soften the appearance of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy's anti-gay animus or something really positive remains to be seen, but Pope Francis on his own initiative is seeking to meet with a married gay activist during a visit to Paraguay in July when he visits that nation.  Paraguay currently has few protections for its LGBT citizens although homosexuality has not been illegal for many years (same sex relations have been legal since 18880).  With the recognition of same sex marriage sweeping South America, one of the Church's former bastions, one has to wonder if Francis realizes that the Church's continued hostility towards gays is only accelerating the Church's decline in the region as in North America and Europe.  BuzzFeed looks at the surprising development.  Here are highlights:

Pope Francis is slated to hold his first public meeting with a married gay activist during a visit to Paraguay in July.

The activist is Simón Cazal, executive director of the Paraguayan LGBT rights group SOMOSGAY, who married another SOMOSGAY activist, Sergio López, in neighboring Argentina in 2012. Though the pope has reportedly held pastoral meetings with some LGBT people, this meeting marks the first time he will publicly meet with an LGBT political activist.

Cazal received an invitation on June 4 from the committee of the Paraguayan bishops’ conference to participate in a roundtable with the pope and civil society leaders. The invitation — provided to BuzzFeed News by SOMOSGAY — said it was extended in recognition of the “high impact of your organization on Paraguayan society.” The meeting will be held on July 11 in the capital, Asunción.

López told BuzzFeed News that the invitation came as a total surprise — the group had not requested to be included in the meeting. Paraguay also is one of the few South American countries where no protections exist for LGBT people or same-sex couples; their marriage in Argentina has no legal force in their country.

The invitation comes shortly after SOMOSGAY launched a campaign calling on the Catholic Church to “abandon the positions of intolerance and insults dehumanizing LGBT people.” 

SOMOSGAY made international news last June when riot police violently removed LGBT protestors supporting a resolution supportive of LGBT rights when they clashed with religious conservative protestors before the beginning of a meeting of the Organization of American States in Asunción last year.

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