Envisioning an Inclusive Church; Dialogue on Homophobia and Transphobia!
A one day Dialogue on Gender and Sexuality Identities addressing homophobia and transphobia was combinedly organised by National Council of Churches in India(NCCI) and Kerala Council of Churches(KCC). Various sessions of the program had taken board the issues faced by people who pass through the conflict of faith versus sexuality besides the active participation of parish members on how Church as an organsiation can work for the cause of sexaulity minority, as a human rights issue. . The joint program by NCCI and KCC, which is the 5th of its kind in Kerala, was unique and historical for the indicator that it occured in a Church; may be a matter which LGBTIQ people can hardly think of. As the program’ introduction by Rev Fr Dr Reji Mathew(Secretary KCC) came up with evident solidarity for the sexual minorities the representatives followed by a comprehensive presentation, by Fr Philip Kuruvilla(General Co-ordinator NCCI ESHA Program), the gathered people who were mainly members from the CSI Church Parish got astonished; for they wer uncovered with the involvment of NCCI or the queer community across various Indian States and support groups. The presentation also had vivid elements on the four programs conducted by KCC, during previous months , at Maramon, Ranni and Kottayam.
The presentation was followed by experience sharing session by Maya (Transgender Model), Chinju(Program Co-ordinator, SahaYatrika) and Jijo Kuriakose(Founder Member, Queerala); which brought moments of silence in the Church for most of the people among the crowd was witnessing discussion on Sexuality inside the sanctuary. A talk by Adv Padmaraj K(High Court, Kerala) gave vivid insights on how Indian legal system stands against the dignity of LGBTIQ minority and how IPC377 acts as a con for queer community’ survival. The post noon Open Forum had mixed responses from the parish members, for a few was ambigious on the sexual activities practised by homosexuals while the gross mass came up with highly welcoming practical suggestions for the Churches to be Inclusive. Felicitations by Rev Youhannan Mar Policarpose Metrapolitan(Orthodox Church, Angamaly Diocese), Liju Kuriakose(Vice President, NCCI) and group discussion moderated by Fr Thomas Ninan(Asso General Co-ordinator, NCCI ESHA) enthralled the commmunity representaives to height of unmatched joy. The existing Biblical and theological challenges towards acceptanc of LGBTIQ people was presented by Fr Dr Reji and a final session by Dr C J John(Psychiatrist, Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi) passed exact mental health issues faced by homosexual and transgender people, who are often drawn into forced heterosexual marriages. Dr John also spoke on how natural being gay is and the aftermaths of not letting people to be themselves.
Being gay is neither a crime nor a sin. Let faith based groups and believers do not use Church or God as a token to justify thier prejudice towards the queer community. Rather than quoting excuses to hate one another let Christian groups in Kerala pass the true message of Love! Let this healthy dialogue initiated by NCCI and KCC in solidarity for the LGBTIQ community become more dynamic and hope that the conflict of faith versus sexuality does not haunt the queer people, to accept themselves and dwell in joy.