31 August 2007

Homosexuality and its challenges by Clayton Mercieca (Times of Malta, August 31, 2007)

I would like to express my gratitude to all those (for and against) who have shared their views and opinions in the debate regarding the Church and homosexuality. I feel that somehow God is using this discussion in order to bear fruit from it.

I just want to share my first hand experience of why is it so important that the Parish Family (be it of any denomination or religion) actively seeks ways to embrace the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender population.

Most of the persons I know who are LGBT have felt "different" from their peers since entering puberty. A lot of the time it happens that they convince themselves that it is just a phase because it is normal to feel sexual attraction to both sexes at that age. When they see that this "phase" persists even after they reach middle or late adolescence, the internal and external conflicts begin. Parents, peer pressures, religion become a constant battlefield for the confused teenager at a time when the adolescent needs to seek his or her identity or else face role confusion for the rest of his or her life.

At this point there are only two visible paths for such persons. They either accept their sexuality knowing at the back of their mind that they might face a period of great hardship because of the discrimination and harassment of their peers, the lack of support or even aggression of their parents and to top it all the lack of understanding shown by Church institutions and their lay persons. Or the other road that might hold stronger appeal for these confused children is to suppress their sexuality, killing a part of their true self, and continue to live a "normal" life devoid of inner growth.

It is for this reason that I would like to make an urgent appeal to the Parish Family to become more aware of how we are marginalising some families facing these challenges of having a gay son/daughter within the Church. We are doing great harm by assuming that everyone is heterosexual and by telling homophobic jokes we can be cruel and hurtful. It should therefore be an obligation for the parishes to clarify matters of homosexuality with the community by referring to research and official documents and not only to the Catechism of the Church or the Bible.

In conclusion I suggest that we should also implement an anti-discriminatory and equal opportunities policy in education starting from primary school in such a way that it is friendly and comprehended by children of that age. This would contribute to bringing up children who have been empowered to build a better society.

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