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Ethics of Reciprocity: UN Dialogue of LGBTI Religious Leaders (Oct 26 ,2017):

QTA applied to be one of 11 speakers of Ethics of Reprocity Conference (EOR) in early July. As the representative of Queer Theology Academy and Covenant of the Rainbow: Campaign Towards a Truly Inclusive Church, she is invited to attend the symposium of “Ethics of Reciprocity: UN Dialogue of LGBTI Religious Leaders”at United Nations, headquarters, New York. One of the sponsors of this event is UN LGBTI Core Group. 

 

Full Text of Pearl Wong’s Speech in Ethics of Reciprocity: UN Dialogue of LGBTI Religious Leaders:

Thank you for this opportunity to be here today.
My name is Pearl Wong, a bisexual Christian from Hong Kong. I am director of Queer Theology Academy, founded in 2013 by a group of LGBTIQA Christians. We advocate justice, dignity and equal rights for LGBTI+ both within the church and in our society.
 
Our ministry majors in publication, education, and counseling, because these are important areas we work towards eliminating violence and discrimination against LGBTI+ people. Our ministry also provides a channel for the LGBTI+ Christians to share their stories and struggles with other Christians as well as the public, so that people learn about the pain and discrimination they suffer. For most of them, they still cannot come out and their voices are not being heard.
I also experienced such discrimination when I attended a conservative church in Hong Kong almost 10 years ago. I was included in various ministries at first, but once my church leaders found out about my sexual orientation, they requested me to confess my sin in front of them, and demanded that I should leave my same-sex partner. When I told them that I could not end the relationship, they immediately stopped my ministry in the church.
None of the church leaders, including the senior pastor, could convince me why I was not given equal opportunities to serve in the church according to my gift. I felt rejected and being punished in a way because of my sexual orientation. I was angry, I received no support from anyone in the church; I had no choice but to leave a community which was supposed to exemplify Christ's love. After I left that church I decided to study theology full time, I wanted to know if God and the Bible condemns my sexuality.
At first, the fear of rejection and discrimination still haunted me so I dare not come out to my professors nor to the students. Gradually, I could not live under this self -denial of my true identity any longer, and I accept that God loves me the way God has created me and that includes my sexuality.
Finally, together with nine other LGBTQ students, I came out in front of the whole divinity School. This act of "Coming Out" together affirm who we are and that God creates all human beings in God's holy image. At that moment, I pledge to walk in solidarity with others to affirm that we can be both LGBTI and Christians, and we deserve to live with dignity and joy!
 
My story that I just shared with you is one of the many stories of LGBTI+ Christians who encounter similar struggles in their own churches. The story of Rev. Grace Bok, a lesbian, Mimi Wong, a transgender, Small Luk, an intersex. I want to name these persons because like you and I, they are real persons, not an "object" that are being talked about. Some of us cannot be baptized or receive Holy Communion, or be accepted as full members in our own churches.
Many develop internalized homophobia , shame and low self-esteem because majority of churches in Hong Kong still defend the hetero-patriarchal tradition and values. In fact, the loudest opposing voice to the legislation against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is from the Catholic church and the mainline Christian churches in Hong Kong. These Christians pledge their love for sexual minority Christians and yet, insist that they must be converted before they deserve the equal treatment as heterosexuals.
 
In the midst of this heated debate about the legislation in 2013, few Christian organizations and local inclusive churches in Hong Kong initiated "Covenant of the Rainbow : Campaign Toward a Truly Inclusive Church". We collected around 1,000 signatures in support of the creation of inclusive church communities where all are welcome, and to uphold human dignity and equality for all in God’s world.
We believe God loves everyone. We affirm all lives and uphold equality for all people regardless of their race, gender, language, age, occupation, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or level of abilities.
The core value of the gospel is love, not hatred and discrimination.
We affirm that the Church is a community of faith called by God to live in the unity of Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church serves as God’s faithful witness and participates in the ministries of healing, reconciliation, justice and restoring the world to wholeness. Therefore, the church should promote an inclusive and equal community where people embrace each other with respect and acceptance.
Through baptism, the Church engages in Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. Holy Communion is a visible sign for Christians to demonstrate their commitment to Christ’s mission of redemption and reconciliation to the world. By the Holy Spirit, the church and the disciples are called to cherish the gift of diversity and respect differences in God’s creation of human sexuality.
The Church is required to apply Biblical teachings and Christian traditions in context. Through humble and empathic listening, churches can develop deep understanding towards LGBTI+ people.
We stand in solidarity with LGBTI+ who are being oppressed and marginalized, as we believe that by doing so we are advancing the Kingdom of God and illuminating the love of Christ in us.
We believe that the church cannot reject those who are accepted by God. God created all human beings in God’s holy image. The church therefore should not regard them as sinful and unclean (Acts 10).
He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. (Acts 10:28)
It is important for me to speak to all of you at the UN about the situation in Hong Kong which also reflects similar situation in parts of Asia.
There are only a handful of inclusive churches in Hong Kong, and we are up against conservative churches and the Religious Right that are powerful and vocal, and they also have the support of the Government. We hope that you can join hands with us in Asia to create a mutual platform of equals where progressive and conservative Christian churches and leaders can come together and listen to different views and theologies on human sexuality. We need to promote an inclusive community where people can respect each other and put an end to discrimination and stigmatization.
The Religious right groups have been inciting discrimination against LGBTI+ Christians, and preventing the government from passing the anti-discrimination law against LGBTI+. These groups in HK also promote "conversion therapy" and "reverse discrimination". I hope that all of us can play a role in countering the harm done by the Religious Right with advocacy on human rights, equality of all and anti-discrimination.
Faith, Hope and Love, these three, the greatest is Love. Let love erase boundaries that create violence and discrimination in our world.
THANK YOU!!