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21 Jun 2006

news around the world 21-jun-06

Newly elected American Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female head of an Anglican denomination anywhere in the world - believes homosexuality is not a sin. More than a million people in Sao Paulo celebrate the Brazilian city's tenth Gay Pride parade. In the US, the Pentagon is said to have classified homosexual behaviour as a mental disorder and listed it alongside mental retardation and alcoholism.

Homosexuality not sinful: first female leader of the US Episcopal Church
Not only does she believe that homosexuality is not a sin, she also believes that it is a gift from God. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected last weekend as the head of the 2.3 million member US Episcopal Church - the American branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected last weekend as the head of the 2.3 million member US Episcopal Church - the American branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
She is the first woman to head any denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide, 30 years after the church first allowed women to become priests. As presiding bishop, she will represent the church in meetings with other top Anglican officials and other leaders of faith.

The Bishop of Nevada said in a weekend interview with CNN that she felt gay men and lesbians were created by God to love people of the same sex.

"I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us." Said the 52-year-old who holds degrees in divinity as well as in oceanography and biology.

"Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender."

She defended her position claiming the Bible's passages relating to homosexuality are written in a different historical context, "The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to live as human beings. The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear - there are rules in the Bible about those that we don't observe today.

"The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that's certainly the great message of Jesus, to include the unincluded."

The 77 million-strong Worldwide Anglican Communion - the network of Anglican churches in English-speaking nations around the globe - insists the US church "repent" for appointing Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, in 2003.

For conservative Episcopalians, the selection was bad news as some fear that her appointment could widen divisions in the Anglican Church and tension is already high since the appointment of Bishop Robinson. Curently, only the United States, Canada and New Zealand have female bishops.
Record 2.4m people join Sao Paulo pride parade
More than a million people have taken to the streets of Sao Paulo to celebrate the Brazilian city's tenth annual Gay Pride parade. Police estimated that some 2.4 million people attended this year's festival making the event the largest of its kind in the world, say organisers.

When the parade was first staged a decade ago, it attracted just 2,000 people. The official crowd count last year is 1.8 million.

Floats accompanied by crowds dressed in Brazil's World Cup colours of yellow, green and blue or other flamboyant costumes made their way down the Avenida Paulista in the financial heart of Sao Paulo, as dance music blared out of huge loudspeakers.

The theme for this year's event is "homophobia is a crime" to highlight proposed anti-discrimination laws as gay rights activists say discrimination is still widespread across Brazil. According to activists, 81 people were killed in Brazil last year because of their sexual orientation.

The country's new civil unions laws for same-sex couples are now only applicable in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The Roman Catholic Church has been a frequent outspoken opponent of gay marriage in the world's largest Catholic nation.
Pentagon lists homosexuality as disorder
In a document was uncovered by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Pentagon is said to have classified homosexual behaviour as a mental disorder and listed it alongside mental retardation, personality disorders and alcoholism.

The US military has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the centre, said, "The policy reflects the department's continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays to access mental health services."

The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, was condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Association.

Marty Meehan, Democrat representative for Massachusetts, and nine other members of the Armed Services Committee have written to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking that "inadvertent outdated language" be updated.

"It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognised that such a classification was a mistake," Meehan said.

"There is no scientific basis for such a classification which leads me to believe that the classification is motivated by something more sinister."

The lawmakers also called for a complete review of the US military's policies and medical regulations, in order to meet the needs of what they estimated to be about 65,000 homosexual and bisexual members of the US armed forces.

The Pentagon says the list, which was re-certified in 2003, is currently under review.

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