World religious leaders call for decriminalization of LGBT people
A group of world religious leaders have called for the end of criminalizing the LGBT people and a global ban on conversion practices.
The group, composed of more than 370 figures from 35 countries representing 10 religions, signed the historic declaration during a virtual conference organized by the Ozanne Foundation charity.
Hosted and backed by the UK government, the virtual conference is supposed to highlight the divisions within global religions.
In their declaration, the religious leaders also called on countries to seek justice on behalf of the victims. The declaration was presented at the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives.
World religious leaders united in their declaration
Among the signatories of the declaration were Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa, as well as eight other archbishops, and senior Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.
Likewise signing the declaration was Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland and prominent member of the Catholic Church, and more than 50 rabbis.
McAleese said the declaration represented “a small step towards countering (homophobia).”
The declaration calls for an end of the criminalizaiton of the LGBT people and to conversion therapy, which tries to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
The declaration also acknowledged that “certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence” to the LGBT people.
These teachings also “created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence.”
Address of world religious leaders to the LGBT people
Among the signees of the declaration were the the leaders of the Anglican church in Scotland and Wales.
Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, “For too long, religious teachings have been misused– and are still being misused– to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.”
“This must change,” Bayes added.
Meanwhile, Dilwar Hussain, the chair of New Horizons in British Islam, said he was faced with the challenges of pushing Muslim organizations to engage with LGBT justice.
Hussain said, “If we’re going to be serious about addressing issues of justice and injustice in our society, we’ve got to have an argument that’s morally consistent.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, former senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, said the declaration partly acknowledges that “our religions… still have a lot that we are culpable for.”
State of world religion on how they treat LGBT people
According to the 2020 State-Sponsored Homophobia report released by International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World), 69 UN member states still outlaw gay sex.
Likewise, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and the Independent Forensic Expert Group reported that 69 countries still continue to practice conversion therapy.
The UN, the American Medical Association, and numerous other groups have condemned the practice. Furthermore, Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, and Germany have instituted forms of a nationwide ban on conversion therapy.
In the US, 20 states– including California– have banned the practice for minors.
Wendy Morton, Britain’s junior foreign minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “We fully support its call to end violence, discrimination and the ongoing criminalisation of same-sex conduct in 69 countries.”