LGBT choir sings ‘We Are Family’ outside venue to protest queer exclusion
An LGBT+ choir has staged a protest outside the Catholic World Meeting of Families, where they sang “We Are Family” and “Something Inside So Strong” in response to the exclusion of LGBT+ people from the event.
The idea for the protest came from Irish journalist Ursula Halligan, who is a Catholic and a member of a group called We Are Church. The organisation advocates for the full equality of women and LGBT+ people within the Catholic Church.
She decided to stage the singing protest after the World Meeting of Families refused to allow Catholic LGBT+ groups, including We Are Church, to have an exhibition stand at the conference.
The idea initially came to her when she heard about comments made by Pope Francis, where he suggested that LGBT+ people could not form families.
“That upset me,” she told PinkNews. “Up until now, the Church has been very careful about not saying it as overt as that, but here was the Pope, this man that I have such high regard for in so many other ways – and he said this.
“I thought of all the beautiful LGBTI families that I’ve come to know in the last three years since I came out and I thought, ‘This is wrong. This is really wrong.'”
Along with a group of activists including Bill Hughes, Shay Hennessy, Eddie McGuinness and Collette O’Regan, they pulled together a group of LGBT+ singers to take part in the protest.
“I had a dream and Bill Hughes made it happen,” Halligan said. “They were singing for every LGBT person all over the world, because this is a world conference.
“We wanted to send a message out to the world: that we are not going to take this discrimination quietly anymore.”
“Any group in society that discriminates against LGBT people must be challenged on it. It cannot go unnoticed.
“My concern is for the young people coming up. I don’t want them damaged the way earlier generations of LGBT people have been,” she added.
Halligan also says that she will not be leaving the Catholic Church, despite the exclusion of LGBT+ people from the Catholic event in Dublin.
“I want to change them. We want to do this peacefully and we want to do this with love, and I believe that it will change – and that it is already changing.
“When we change the Catholic Church, we will change the world, because they are such a huge player in the world. That’s why it’s so important to engage with them, not to walk away. To say, ‘No, this is wrong. We are human beings. You can’t do this to us.’”
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Halligan is an acclaimed journalist in Ireland, where she worked as Political Editor with TV3 for many years.
In 2015, just days before Ireland voted on same-sex marriage, Halligan publicly came out in an article in the Irish Times.
In the article, she said she was “a good Catholic girl, growing up in 1970s Ireland where homosexuality was an evil perversion.”
“It was never openly talked about but I knew it was the worst thing on the face of the earth.
“For years I told no one because I couldn’t even tell myself. It was a place I didn’t want to go. It was too scary; too shameful. I couldn’t cope with it. I buried it,” she added.