Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chicago Bishop pleads for gay Iranian's life

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a man of the Catholic Church, who has taken one significant step towards social justice. One step of many that he has taken throughout his career in the Catholic Church, I might add. If you browse his web-page you will see editorials, all directed towards social justice issues. Kudos to this man for taking brave steps in the face of direct opposition from many others within his Church.

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski, Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest, has written a letter to the British Consulate in Chicago, the Honorable James Clark asking that they not deport gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi. Kazemi faces likely torture and/or execution if he is deported to Iran, based solely on his sexual orientation.

Perhaps this is what the Iranian president meant when he said that Iran doesn't have gay people?

Britain has routinely hid behind the stance that gay Iranians are safe in Iran as long as they are "discrete" when deciding to deport a gay person back to Iran.

For a little background on why Kazemi is in such grave danger, I took this excerpt from the "Save Madhi Kazemi" website:

Seyed Madhi Kazemi was born in Tehran and is not yet 20. On September 15th, 2005 he set off for the United Kingdom after applying for a student visa. At first he lived with his uncle in London and attended an English course. In November 2005 he moved to Brighton where he enrolled at the Embassy CES College of Hove. He renewed his student visa to November 2006, with the intention of returning to his family in Iran once the course was over.

Madhi loved a boy back in Iran called Parham, with whom he had shared a secret relationship since the age of 15. Madhi and Parham regularly wrote to each other via e-mail until December 2005, when Parham suddenly stopped writing. In late March 2006, Madhi’s uncle informed him that his father had found out about his homosexuality and his relationship with Parham: the boy had been arrested by the Iranian authorities after being caught with a peer and accused of “lavat” (sodomy).

During the interrogation he was forced to give the names of all the boys he had had relations with, including Madhi himself. Madhi’s father had then received a visit from the Tehran Police, with an arrest warrant for his son as they wanted to put him on trial. In late April, Madhi’s uncle told him Parham had been put to death.

For more on the Kazemi's story, please read from the website.

Bishop Wilkowski is not only religious, but he is Christian and spiritual. Yes, a rare combination. And he is a man who supports the proper, respectful treatment of everyone. Instead of using his religion to maintain the male power hiearchy that already exists within Catholicism, and instead of using religion to admonish homosexuals or any other out-group, he chooses to live by the motto that God's love (if you believe in it) is unconditional. It is not subject to sexual orientation, to maleness, to femaleness, to race, to anything.

If there exists a God, he does not discriminate based on the (usually) arbitrary whims of privileged (usually) white males. That is something we all could be reminded of more. Thank you, Bishop Wilkowski.

And don't be scared to write to your local British Consulate asking that Kazemi not be deported back to Iran. As one writer put it, telling gays they won't be killed so long as they don't publicly acknowledge their gayness is akin to telling Anne Frank she won't be killed so long as she stays in her attic.


rem said...

Great, Jane.
Well said. Thanks for posting this.

Jane Know said...

Thanks for passing along the info. :-)

Pissy Missy said...

Holy cow, I'm going to pass along the link to this to everyone I know

Jane Know said...

Do it! Thanks for stopping by.

John said...

It's almost shocking to see a churchman do something decent.

Pissy Missy said...

Did it and I agree with John!

Jane Know said...

I know. I was surprised... but the good guys never get any press.
Pissy Missy,

John said...

While I commend the bishop for speaking out, it should be that his church is not in communion with Rome.

This is not the Roman Catholic Church.

John said...

Er, it should be NOTED that this church in not in communion with Rome.

rem said...

True John. And I think that's very important to note. you CAN be a catholic without answering to the Pope. That dudes a total jerk.