An International Woman’s Day event was forced to move after the Vatican refused to host it due to one of the speakers being a lesbian.
The church banned the event from the holy city after it saw the list of speakers included Ugandan lesbian Catholic Ssenfuka Joanita Warry and Tina Beattie, who has been a voice against the Church’s anti-LGBTQ stance.
The Pope also rejected an invitation to attend the annual Voices of Faith conference, which has been traditionally held in the Vatican on International Women’s Day.
According to the BBC, senior Vatican official Kevin Farrell said it was “not appropriate” for the conference to include the women. The event has been moved across the street to the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order.
Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ acceptance, called out the homophobia and misogyny within the church.
“A Church that is homophobic and anti-abortion is not the church of the future,” McAleese said. “The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny. It’s an empire of misogyny. Our voices stir the winds of change, so we must speak out. We don’t want to be what the Pope describes as ‘the strawberry on the cake.’”
A release from the event made the church aware of the dangers of leaving out minority opinions in religious discussion.
“Warry understands the tragedy that can happen when the Church excludes persecuted groups rather than joining them in seeking protection, dignity and justice,” the statement said. “As a lesbian Catholic woman, she leads the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda, a country where same-sex relations are punishable by life in prison.”
The statement also added that the Church needs to assess its stance on equality.
“We live in times marked by change, but there are places where gender equality is being systematically overlooked. The Catholic Church is one of them,” it said. “The crises we must confront in our world today demand leaders, women and men, who are prepared to think the unthinkable and who will risk upsetting powerful vested interests and take bold steps forward for the greater good.”