Christian groups sign 'gays are welcome' charter
About 9,000 Christians and 90 Christian groups have signed a declaration to show their acceptance of homosexuality.
A coalition of campaigners for homosexual rights welcomed the move but took issue with one point in the declaration which says: "We believe that believers who continue to engage in same-sex activity, and refuse to pursue a holy life, are not walking in truth. The Church has spiritual authority and responsibility to follow up with care, in order to regain them in love, enabling them to grow in love," it adds.
The Walking Together in True Love charter was initiated by 26 religious leaders in May in an attempt to create gay-friendly churches. It states that Jesus Christ loves every individual "regardless of his/her sexual orientation". It adds: "Regardless of sexual orientation, it is only through Christ that we can have new life." It goes on to say that no one should be turned away from church because of their sexual orientation, and heterosexuals should be taught to accept homosexuality.
"We encourage churches to establish a respectful atmosphere and a safe environment; teach brothers and sisters to be accepting to those struggling with same-sex orientation; walk with one another in love and faith," the charter says.
Reverend Yu Tat-sum, who helped organise the joint declaration, pointed out that the Bible uses "abomination" to describe sexual activities between two people of the same sex in the Old Testament's Book of Leviticus.
"Homosexuality, as a kind of sexual orientation, is not a sin. But homosexual sex is a sin," Yu said. But the Bible also says that every person who has sinned should be accepted, he added.
Tommy Chen, spokesman for the Sexual Orientation Discrimination Legislation Front, said the signing of the charter was appreciated and it showed the divide between homosexuals and churches on same-sex orientation was shrinking, he said.
Regarding the point referring to the unholiness of homosexual sex, Chen said: "Of course I disagree with that. But I respect their thoughts." He and fellow gay activists were at the Yan Fook Centre in Lai Chi Kok, for the signing of the declaration. Taiwanese HIV campaigner and Christian Hansen Wu also flew in for the occasion.
The coalition, which was set up this year, says discrimination is rife in the city and is calling on the government to draw up legislation to protect gay rights as soon as possible. It claims one man working in an education institution was denied a promised promotion after his superior found out that he was gay.
Last month, the government set up a group to advise on eliminating discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT).
It is chaired by Professor Fanny Cheung Mui-ching, Chinese University's first woman pro-vice-chancellor, and has 13 other members from the academic and business sectors, the LGBT community, and the Legislative Council.