Written by: Christina Vestey
.Senior faith leaders from around the world are calling for the decriminalization of the LGBTQ+ community. Religious leaders of all faiths gathered in London for this landmark event funded by the British Government. The declaration is signed by more than 370 senior faith leaders. Including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, eight other archbishops, the former Catholic President of Ireland, 60 rabbis. As well as high ranking Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists.
The declaration demands a global ban on ‘conversion therapy’ condemning any ‘attempts to change, suppress, or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.’ In a statement, the commission said, “We recognize that certain religious teachings have, throughout the ages, been misused to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex,”
Conversion therapy still exists in many countries. Based on global research, the ILGA report identified,’ the main driving forces behind these harmful practices are religious leaders and prejudice”. It is mostly people driven by traditional social norms and their religious beliefs who push their family members to participate in conversion therapy. Children and teenagers are often the primary victims forced to have therapy against their will. The practice uses psychological and physical methods to ‘cure’ people of their sexual or gender identity. For some time, psychologists, health providers, activists, and victims have been rallying against conversion therapy. Now religious leaders have put forward a clear message. It is time for governments around the world to put laws into place to protect the LGBTQ+ community.
As Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London and number three in the Church of England, said, “When Christian teachings are distorted to incite violence, this is a dreadful abuse of the gospel message.”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a vocal voice championing LGBTQ+ rights. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic, and that is how deeply I feel about this.”. Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa.
The declaration provides welcome clarification for many people of faith. It gives proof there is no justification for people to use religious texts to attack or hold a bias towards the LGBTQ+ community. There are plenty of people of faith who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Most of whom have not found acceptance in their church and community due to misguided religious teachings. This declaration opens the doors to much-needed acceptance and change.