In the morning of the third day of the International Consultation on Church and Homophobia, Dr. Gadis Arivia delivered her presentation entitled “Love is a Human Right.” She recounted how in 2007, an Indonesian man named Hartono and his partner were humiliated by the police on the grounds of their sexuality. Arivia also cited several regional and international documents on SOGIE and same-sex marriage rights. When same-sex partners are denied rights, they are disallowed from visiting each other or their children in hospital, from receiving employment-based benefits and being covered by health insurance, and from inheritance upon demise. Arivia also spoke on the need to foster a “human rights culture.”
A “talk-show” styled panel session was held in the late morning with life sharings from Rev. Vinod Wesley and Rev. Esther Bharathi. The latter is the first transwoman Christian pastor in India. Bharathi spoke on the difficulties of her journey in her theological college and her vision of God. As a fellow seminarian, Wesley also spoke on how the presence of Bharathi provoked a rethinking of “body hermeneutics” and theologies of sexuality among the seminarians, and how queer persons could be part of the theological college and acts of theologising. Wesley highlighted the need for the emergence of a “theology of life” that unconditionally embraces all persons.
In her well-received presentation entitled “Bisexuality: Making the ‘B’ Visible in the Christian Community,” Pearl Wong from Queer Theology Academy in Hong Kong asserted that “bisexual is seen as ambiguous; neither here nor there,” that “sexuality can be a fluid and changeable part of being human” and that “heterosexism is the root of homophobia and biphobia.” Wong called for theologising from diverse perspectives that take human realities and experiences seriously into consideration.
Four concurrent workshops were held in the afternoon after lunch. Rev. Miak Siew and Pastor Pauline Ong engaged with 20 participants on “Being an Open and Welcoming Church.” Widodo Budidarmo’s workshop was entitled “Kekerasan Terhadap LGBT” (Violence against LGBT). Dr. Asnath Natar delivered a workshop on pastoral counselling for families with LGBT entitled “Konseling Pastoral untuk Keluarga dengan LGBTIQ.” Pastor Melinda Siahaan’s workshop, “Dari Teologi Feminis menju Teologi Queer” looked at directions from feminist theology to queer theology. Finally, Benny Prawira conducted a workshop on the issue of suicide among LGBTIQ persons.
The afternoon continued with a panel consisting of Rev. Christopher Rajkumar of India and Rev. Stephen Suleeman of Indonesia who shared on their journeys of being allies of gender varied and sexually diverse persons. After dinner, participants were treated to several performances by young Indonesian transwomen who wowed the captive audience with their talent.
© Joseph N. Goh | josephgoh [at] josephgoh [dot] org