Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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EU roundup: gay activist says orientation not fixed; Russian city to outlaw promoting homosexuality

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent


St. Petersburg legislature set to outlaw promotion of homosexuality

The municipal government of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city and cultural centre, is set to pass a bill prohibiting promotion of homosexuality.

The bill, which prohibits “public activities promoting homosexuality,” is being denounced by homosexualist activist groups as “anti-gay” and it is being vocally opposed by the U.S. State Department.

The bill proposes to outlaw the dissemination of information “which could cause damage to the health or moral and spiritual development of minors, including by inducing them to form warped perceptions that traditional and non-traditional married relations are equally socially acceptable.”

If passed it would impose fines on individuals or groups promoting homosexuality, pedophilia, or “transgenderism” to minors.

The U.S. State Department deplored the plans, saying, “As Secretary Clinton has said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. We have called on Russian officials to safeguard … freedoms [of speech and assembly], and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens.

“We have also consulted with our EU partners on this issue. They share our concerns and are also engaging Russian officials on this. The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups.”

But the bill’s author, United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, has denied it will infringe on civil rights and freedoms. “We are only talking about propaganda as this information about sexual deviations affects our children,”  he said.

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Leading UK homosexualist admits the condition neither genetic nor fixed

Peter Tatchell, one of Britain’s most vocal advocates of the homosexualist political movement, has admitted that sufferers of same-sex attraction are neither “born with” nor stuck with the condition.

Much of the argument upon which the promotion of homosexuality as a “legitimate lifestyle choice” is founded is the paradoxical assertion that it is not a choice at all, but a fixed state of being, probably determined by genes. This is the basis of the claim that opposition to homosexual activity is “homophobia” and tantamount to racism.

But Tatchell, writing last month in an article in the Huffington Post, titled, “Future Sex: Beyond Gay and Straight,” cited the notorious Alfred Kinsey, the researcher often called the grandfather of the sexual revolution, denying that “gay and straight” are distinct categories.

Kinsey’s research, Tatchell said, “was the first major statistical evidence that gay and straight are not watertight, irreconcilable and mutually exclusive sexual orientations.”

“He found that human sexuality is, in fact, a continuum of desires and behaviours, ranging from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. A substantial proportion of the population shares an amalgam of same-sex and opposite-sex feelings - even if they do not act on them.”

He claimed that homophobia in the developed world is waning and wonders what the world will look like “as future societies eventually embrace a post-homophobic culture.”

“If human civilisation evolves into a state of sexual enlightenment, where the differences between hetero and homo no longer matter, what would this mean for the future of same-sex desire and same-sex identity?” Tatchell mused.

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Hungarian Prime Minister says “If the Church were stronger, the nation would be stronger.”

While his country withstands a conflagration of international outrage at its proposed new constitution, the Hungarian prime minister has stood fast and openly described Hungary as a Christian nation.

Speaking in German to a Polish journalist, Viktor Orban said that the lack of respect for human life is a relic of the Communist regime, which hold people and life in contempt.

“If we had a strong Church, then the nation would be much stronger.” Orban said that with the Constitution and other legislative changes, he is “in the process of attempting an alliance with politicians, for whom Christendom and traditional values are important,” the German language Catholic news site Kreuz.net reports.

The new Constitution, strongly supported by voters, declares that human life must be protected from conception and says that marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman. This has infuriated European Union secularists who are issuing threats to try to force a change back to the EU’s standards.

Orban said that factions in the EU and elsewhere are angered that the Hungarian government is distributing the EU funding to the promotion of adoption instead of abortion.

On the long tradition of prayer in Central European culture, he said, “For me this tradition has great significance.” Orban, a Protestant, said that people praying for him has been “a great power and help for me” in his political life.

“I would like to thank you for this talk and wish God’s blessing on every single citizen of the Polish nation.”

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Vladimir Putin pledges to protect persecuted Christians abroad; Egyptian Copts hounded out of their homes by Muslim extremists

The Russian Prime Minister and Presidential candidate, Vladimir Putin, has told media that he wants to protect persecuted Christians abroad. While reports of anti-Christian violence continue to pour out of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Putin made the promise on Wednesday in Moscow at a meeting of members of various Christian denominations.

Putin was quoted by he Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, saying it is important that the “various confessions” continue to cooperate internationally.

Putin was responding to a statement by Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Illarion, that “every five minutes a Christian must die for his faith”. A recent study has shown that around the world, even in first world countries, the great majority of religiously-motivated violence is aimed at Christians, mostly by Muslims and by governments of Communist nations like China, North Korea and Viet Nam.

The Director of the Foreign Office of the Moscow Patriarchate, said persecutions are “especially noteworthy” in Muslim-dominated countries like Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and India. The Christmas day bombing of Catholic and other Christian churches in Nigeria by Islamic group Boko Haram has become almost an annual ritual.

Friday’s headlines from Egypt highlight the plight of the Christian Copts as the “Arab Spring” demonstrations have resulted in the ascendancy of a radical Islamist-led government. Sixty-two Coptic families have reportedly been driven out of their homes in a village, Kobry-el-Sharbat, outside Alexandria. 

Local Muslims burned homes and shops with the acquiescence of local police. The violence was said to have been triggered after a Coptic tradesman allegedly took photos of a Muslim woman with his cell phone.

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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

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"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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