Global faith leaders call for ban on LGBT+ conversion therapy

Close to 400 global religious leaders ( with anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu and Britain’s Bishop of Liverpool among them), called for countries to overturn bans on same-sex relations and end LGBT+ conversion therapy.

According to the 2020 State-Sponsored Homophobia report released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World)  presently sixty-nine United Nations member states still outlaw gay sex, Only Brazil, Ecuador, Malta and Germany have instituted forms of nationwide bans on conversion therapy, which aims to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  A declaration has been signed by faith leaders from 35 countries, including representatives of the world’s main religions, and former Irish President Mary McAleese, a prominent member of the Roman Catholic Church.  This declaration was  organised by the Ozanne Foundation.  The announcement, which marks the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, was made at a virtual conference of global faith representatives funded by Britain’s foreign ministry (FCDO).  The joint statement represented “a small step towards countering (homophobia)” McAleese said.  “But it’s a necessary step to remind the faith systems of the world and people of faith that they have an obligation to their fellow citizens who are also entitled to the full dignity of their humanity and their full equal human rights,”.

It is “with profound regret” that religious teachings through the centuries have “caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex” the declaration acknowledged.  Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, former senior rabbi to Reform Judaism  said the statement was partly about acknowledging that “our religions … still have a lot that we are culpable for”.  “It would be lovely to say it has nothing to do with us, but our religious traditions have driven conversion therapy, particularly,” she added.

The declaration has been signed by religious leaders including Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims to date.

Imam Muhsin Hendricks, who founded the Masjidul Ghurbaah Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the world’s few LGBT-inclusive mosques said “I think the Muslim community is ready for this conversation.  I’m currently training with six imams from different parts of Africa and the openness to look at this issue (is incredible)”.

Source: Hindustan Times Published 16/12/20

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