Fundamentalist Christian groups are trying to frame discrimination against others as a human rights issue, an effort that forms part of a growing push to roll back LGBT rights. And it’s a global movement that finds Taiwan at its center.
In the same week that Taiwan Pride saw up to 200,000 people take to the streets of Taipei at the end of October in support of LGBT rights, the fundamentalist Christian group Global Rainbow Crosser Alliance (國際跨虹聯盟, GRCA) held a press conference at the capital’s Grand Hotel to condemn the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) for rejecting the alliance’s request to participate in its 40th human rights congress, which was taking place at the same hotel.
Alliance president Jim Domen said his human rights had been violated because FIDH didn’t respond to a letter requesting participation for the “rainbow crossers.”
“I’m here today to express great concern [about] the non-inclusion of the rainbow crossers in the 40th congress on human rights,” Domen, a pastor at Church United in Newport Beach California, told a large group of supporters in the hotel’s lobby. “Rainbow crossers identify as LGBTQ who have decided to embrace other forms of sexual expression.”
Domen, a self-described rainbow crosser — “I’m a former homosexual, and have changed my sexual orientation” — added that it was “inappropriate and against the UN’s article 18 for [FIDH] to censure or exclude us ... groups who affirm the inherent right to change the expression of their sexual identity and their belief related to their sexuality. Rainbow crossers are an oppressed people group.”
The term “rainbow crosser” is used by fundamentalist Christian groups to refer to a person who says they have changed their sexuality from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual, or reverse their trans identification. It never goes in the other direction.
Domen attributes his changed sexuality to years of counseling, strongly suggesting that rainbow crossers are people who have undergone some form of conversion therapy, a practice common among these groups.
“After three years of intensive counseling, support groups for individuals wanting to leave a homosexual lifestyle, reading books about the psychology of sexual desires and learning how to have healthy friendships with men, I began dating women,” Domen has written.
According to a 2015 report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there is a growing number of these kinds of “treatments” and “therapies” — conversion therapy, sexual orientation change efforts, reorientation therapy, reparative therapy and gay cure therapy — that have “been found to be unethical, unscientific and ineffective and, in some instances, tantamount to torture.”
“LGBT youth are widely subjected to harmful conversion ‘therapies’ in clinics or camps,” the report said. “LGBT youth held in these clinics or camps are often exposed to continuous psychological abuse, forced to consume unsanitary food and water, held in isolation for prolonged periods of time and subjected to electroshocks and other painful treatments.”
Amid reports that Christian groups are proselytizing at public schools in Taiwan and calling for abortion restrictions, the GRCA protest forms part of a concerted effort both domestically and abroad to roll back hard-fought rights for sexual minorities.