Backtracking on a controversial decision that enraged human rights activists across Spain, the Catholic Diocese in Cádiz has agreed to allow a 21-year-old transsexual to serve as godfather at the baptisms of his two nephews.
“For me, this is the perfect decision,” said Alexander Salinas, who lives in San Fernando. “But the best thing is that this decision will help those who come after me.”
I am so happy that this was resolved in the most civilized way as possible”
Last month, Catholic officials denied Salinas the right to become a godfather because his “lifestyle” did not “fall in line with the Church’s faith.”
Salinas had registered to become a godfather at the San José Artesano Church, but the priest reportedly told him that he couldn’t “change 2,000 years of Church history” and that sex changes were “not permitted under Christian morals.”
“The priest is the one who decides,” the Cádiz Diocese said back then, in support of the decision.
After Salinas went public and sought the help of LGBT organizations, rights groups began to pressure the Church.
The Sylvia Rivera Transsexual Association of Andalusia (ATA) filed a complaint with the government’s equality commission and classified the Church’s decision as a hate crime.
Salinas also started a petition drive on change.org, which has collected more than 35,000 signatures in the hope that Pope Francis, who has reached out to the LGBT community in the past, would read it.
In January, the pope granted a private audience to a transgender man from Extremadura who wrote to the pope detailing the social rejection he felt after his sex-change operation.
Salinas will now set the date for the first baptism ceremony for his sister’s five-month-old son, even though his sibling had canceled the event because of the Church’s prior decision. Another nephew is due to be born this year.
Os esperamos a todos este Sábado en la manifestación por Alex, el joven transexual discriminado por la iglesia pic.twitter.com/SsDjM8NrIX— Podemos San Fernando (@PodemosSanfer) August 6, 2015
A tweet from Podemos in San Fernando announcing a demonstration in support of Salinas.
“I am so happy that this was resolved in the most civilized way as possible because we hadn’t even filed the lawsuit we had planned,” said Salinas, who was born a girl.
“I don’t know if the pope saw my petition – I have no knowledge about that – but of course the entire Church is changing. In fact, they just said that divorced Catholics cannot be excommunicated and I think it is wonderful that the Church is taking a new route.”
Transsexual Socialist deputy Carla Antonelli said the Cádiz Church’s retraction creates a precedent.
“It is unfortunate that it had to occur under social pressure,” said Antonelli, the first open transsexual lawmaker in Congress.
Still, the controversy has not died out. A rally to demand an official apology from Cádiz Bishop Rafael Zornoza is being organized by left-wing party Podemos, and will be held at 8pm on Saturday in front of the main church in San Fernando.
“We want them to repair the damage they caused and also take the opportunity to publicly thank everyone for all the support they gave Alexander in his fight,” said a Podemos official in San Fernando.