For those who were unable to participate in the "Let's Chat" discussion on May 27, focused on "The Present", here is a summary of the topics we discussed. I hope you will think about how you might have responded to these topics.
We started by looking at the world outside of Canada. In many countries in the world, same-sex relationships are still illegal and in some countries, the offense carries a death penalty. Canada was the first country in the world to recognize danger due to sexual orientation as grounds for a refugee claim.
We next discussed "conversion therapy" which is the practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation using psychological, physical or spiritual interventions. Many of the practitioners of this "therapy' are ministers, or claim to be called by God. Parents often coerce their children into this "therapy" by telling them that they are not welcome in the family unless they change who they are. conversion therapy has lead to mental illness, homelessness, addiction and suicide in young people. In Canada, a bill banning this is currently in third reading.
We moved on to a discussion of Charter Rights in Canada. While the Charter promises equality regardless of sexual orientation, it also guarantees religious freedom, and these two guarantees are often at odds. Some examples are seen within religious based schools. Churches may discriminate based on sexual orientation.
We spent some time talking about young people and the kinds of initiatives are occurring within schools. We also touched on the internet and how social networking can be a good place for marginalized groups to get together, as well as a place where harm and abuse can occur.
Finally, we recognized that there is still work to be done for seniors. Same-sex couples in committed long term relationships are often forced to hide their orientation when one of the couple must move to long term care. The relationship is often not recognized or accommodated by the facility.
We again finished with a discussion of how the vote to become an affirming ministry will be organized on June 13. We were all asked to tell 5 people about what is happening, and invite them to participate.
Our final "Let's Chat" session will be held on June 3 @7PM . At that time, we will talk about "The Future" and where becoming an affirming ministry could take us as a congregation. Please join us.