Members of the Association of Lutheran Women Theologians in Latvia are among those that signed an open letter in order to support the ratification of the Istanbul Convention (The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) in Latvia.
Below you can read the full text of the letter signed by 55 Christians: pastors, theologians and church members:
We, representatives of various churches and congregations in Latvia, have learned with concern about the view expressed by four Latvian church leaders – the Latvian Lutheran Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Latvian Orthodox Church and the Latvian Baptist Congregations Union – that joining the Istanbul Convention conceals a threat to Latvian society, as it would impose a plan of changing the society which is based on for Latvia undesirable gender ideology.
While respecting our churches and their leaders, however, we feel that it is necessary to recall that their opinion is only one of the opinions that exist among the church people who practice religion. Defending democracy in the Latvian society and also in its religious environment, we remind that there is another Christian understanding of the significance of the Istanbul Convention, according to which the Convention that is designed to protect women, children and also men who are victims of violence, is in line with the fundamental principle of Christian values and convictions, i.e. stand for the ones who suffer.
Thus, on the basis of Christian values, we call for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. As followers of Jesus, we believe that we are called to protect and care for the poor and the suffering, including the victims of violence. It also means defending their interests where the voices of victims are rarely heard.
We are also concerned about the quality of the political and behavioural development in this important issue for Latvia. Bias and simplification, as well as lack of critical evaluation and basing one’s conclusions on unverified opinion, is at least evident in what is being publicly presented as the process of formation of the political point of view.
For example, the Convention does not deal with the issue of recognition of same-sex partnerships. One of the first countries to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention is Turkey, where, however, same-sex marriages are not allowed. Therefore, there is no reason to tie these issues together, which is probably done to increase resistance to ratification of the Convention.
We believe compassion and love are the foundation of practical faith, as Matthew’s Gospel chapter 25 says:
“37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25: 37-40)
We therefore call for the ratification of the Convention condemning violence, especially in families and against women. Violence against human being should be condemned without exception.