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Revised Vatican document on gays ‘not a total loss,’ Pinoy LGBT advocates say

Although disappointed with the outcome of the final version of a Vatican document that was supposed to "welcome homosexuals" in the Catholic Church, Filipino leaders of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups lauded the Church for at least discussing homosexuality in their annual synod.

"We are quite disappointed but we are appreciative that this issue has been opened for discussion," Claire De Leon, punong babaylan of University of the Philippines LGBT group Babaylan, told GMA News Online in a phone interview on Sunday.

On Sunday, the final version of the Vatican document, called a relatio, was found to have been radically revised from an earlier draft that spoke more positively of gays.

The two-paragraph section of the final document dealing with homosexuals was titled "Pastoral attention towards persons with homosexual orientations."

The previous three-paragraph version had been called "Welcoming homosexuals," a Reuters report read.

The draft also mentioned "accepting and valuing their sexual orientations" and giving gays "a welcoming home," but these phrases were not included in the final version.

The document emphasized, however, that gays "should be welcomed with respect and sensitivity" and that discrimination against them "is to be avoided."

‘Good starting point’

De Leon said the rewrite is not a total loss.

"For the longest time, negative ang perception sa LGBT," De Leon said. "It shows na may future, may pupuntahan."

As Pope Francis closed the synod or the assembly of bishops that prepared the document, he reminded them that they should not fear change.

"God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways," he said.

Sought for comment, gay rights activist Danton Remoto echoed De Leon in lauding the Church for opening its doors to homosexuality.

"We don't expect major earthquakes to happen [during the synod] because the Catholic Church is an old institution and change will not happen overnight," he said in a phone interview.

"This is a good starting point and we expect that this will only get better," he added. — JDS, GMA News