South African Arnold was chased away from his parish because of his sexual orientation. Now he is in charge of securing that LHBTI-persons in a township outside Cape Town have a safe place to go to when they experience similar incidents.
As coordinator in the organization Inclusive and Affirming Ministries, Arnold works towards accept for different sexual orientated people in Gugulethu, a township right outside Cape Town. In South Africa it is not uncommon to experience persecution, discrimination and violence because of sexual orientation, and in the center named Themba Lam the organization offers temporary dwellings for LHBTI-persons who need protection.
-Prejudices exist because we humans are uncomfortable with that which is perceived to be different, Arnold says. – It is therefore of utmost importance that LHBTI-persons are visible in society. Stereotypes will vanish when people meet.
As a homosexual teenager Arnold experienced that his feelings was in conflict with the expectations of society. He searched for help in his Christian faith, but instead of finding support he experienced being frozen out and expelled from the parish. – I am dismissed just because I want to love another; that is all I am guilty of. That is a form of violence too, he says.
-I don’t want to compare it to being beaten up because of a sexual orientation, but I felt emotionally hurt and wounded. Arnold thinks that the church often betrays those who differs from the hetero-norm. That is why religious leaders have a special obligation to challenge prejudices against LHBTI-persons.
- As leader you have a possibility to talk about social problems, and I think that the pulpit can be the place where such challenges are displayed.Back