Thousands gather at vigil outside LGBT bar in Slovakia after shooting
Thousands of people gathered at a vigil in Slovakia on Friday to commemorate two people killed outside a gay bar. The men were shot dead in the capital Bratislava on Wednesday, in a suspected hate crime. Organisers estimated that 20,000 people took part in the vigil, mourning the men’s deaths and demanding action on LGBT rights.
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, who has raised the rainbow flag over her office, spoke at the event. “I’m sorry that our society was not able to protect your loved ones,” she said. Prime Minister Eduard Heger was also at the vigil, organised by the Inakosť (Otherness) Institute, an LGBT advocacy group.
Slovakia’s National Crime Agency has classified the shootings as premeditated murder, motivated by hatred of a sexual minority. It has sparked calls for more protection of LGBT people in Slovakia, a relatively conservative EU country where same-sex marriage is not legal. The BBC’s Rob Cameron, in the neighbouring Czech Republic, said some Slovaks were angry at what they see as hypocrisy from politicians.
While the prime minister held a rainbow flag at the rally, in June an MP from his party called – unsuccessfully – for a ban of the flag on public buildings. European Parliament Vice-President Michal Simecka, who was also at Friday’s event, said he wanted the European legislature to discuss the murders at a session next week. “To express our sympathy, but also to call on the Slovak authorities to take clear steps to put an end to the language of hatred towards LGBTI people,” he said.
Christian educator in America files lawsuit after being fired for not reading LGBT books
A Christian childcare teacher in California filed a lawsuit last week against her former employer alleging she had been fired and ill-treated because she refused to read books featuring LGBT themes to young children. Nelli Parisenkova’s attorneys filed the suit in the Superior Court of California on Thursday and named Bright Horizons Children’s Center and Studio City location director Katy Callas as defendants.
Parisenkova said she looked after children aged 5 and under and knew Bright Horizons Children’s Center made LGBT-themed books available to be read to the children. However, the former caregiver alleged that she was provided an “informal accommodation” by a supervisor, wherein she was not required to read the books, until Callas discovered Parisenkova’s religious objection. Upon Callas’s discovery, the director denied Parisenkova’s request for a religious accommodation and fomented a hostile work environment that eventually lead to the educator’s firing, according to the lawsuit.
After she was called into the director’s office, Callas “questioned her in an irate manner, told her that if she did not want to celebrate diversity this was not the place for her to work, gave her an administrative leave memo, escorted her outside with a security guard, and left her out in the 96-degree heat with no transportation,” according to the complaint. Reading the books would “violate her religious beliefs and constitute promotion of intimate relationships and choices that are contrary to the teachings of her faith,” the complaint reads.
New Zealand Catholic schools have new guidelines on how to treat LGBT students
New guidelines for “sexual diversity” at Catholic schools have been released by the Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand. Aroha and Diversity in Catholic Schools was drafted by the National Centre for Religious Studies after consulting with bishops, principals, religious education leaders and young people.
The guidelines advise teachers and school communities on how to treat students from the LGBTQIA+ community. Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe said the guidelines will help schools make decisions on the support of rangatahi who are “grappling with issues around sexual diversity”.
“Our identities as adults take time to form, and vulnerable young people should not feel pushed or coerced to make decisions about themselves too soon,” he said. “Young people today do not live in a bubble. They are aware, and inform themselves of the range of social, scientific, ideological and religious stances regarding this issue, and there is a lot of pressure and rhetoric about this issue,” he said.
The guidelines state Catholic schools need to consider that there are many voices in the conversation regarding LGBTQIA+ issues. It instructs Catholic school staff to not use homophobic or transphobic language, and that no young person should be referred to a programme or organisation that supports any kind of conversion therapy practises. However, the guidelines state marriage between same-sex couples are not recognised by the Catholic Church. It states young people may have concerns regarding LGBTQIA+ issues that are valid and need to be addressed with sensitivity by the community.
The guidelines advise that if an activity seems “borderline”, it can be renamed or refocused. It suggests a proposed Pride Day could be oriented towards the inclusion of everyone to avoid causing “fear or concern” within parts of the Catholic school community, and a Pink Shirt Day could be refocused on bullying rather than specifically homophobic bullying.