In The Independent on 4 July 2008 there was an article about a friend of mine called Maris. He is an amazing individual who has been forced to flee his home country of Latvia due to homophobia Here is an extract from the article,
I am from Latvia. And two weeks ago I quit my country to move to London. My reasons for leaving were not economic – I was operating a thriving psychotherapy business. Nor were they for family reasons… It was homophobia. I am gay and over the last few years, I have been physically and verbally assaulted many times. …
Before I came out in 2002, the rumours about my sexuality had already had huge ramifications on my life. I was a pastor in the Latvian church and I had a column in the church newspaper and that was stopped. My weekly radio sermon was taken off the air, and I was kicked out of the cathedral I served in.
On 22 May 2002, I was ex-communicated from the church. Back then there were only three openly gay people in Latvia. My story was on the front pages of all the Latvian newspapers and I have suffered dozens of personal attacks since then. I have been verbally abused, spat at and physically attacked. Last year, two guys ambushed me as I went to baptise a child. Since then my sight started to deteriorate, which my doctor blamed squarely on the stress caused by the attacks.
The full article can be found here. It mentions quite a lot about the support that Amnesty International have given to Maris and their ongoing work with gay people around the world who are oppressed in their own countries.
Please continue to pray for Maris and other people who are in similar situations for him. The fact that he has chosen to be true to himself, but also to his faith has meant that he has suffered immensely, and yet he is one of the most amazing people I know.