370+ Religious Leaders Call for Ban on Conversion Therapy, Repeal of Anti‑Gay Laws
More than 370 religious leaders from 35 different countries representing 10 major religions signed a historic declaration calling for a ban on conversion therapy and related practices and for the end of laws criminalizing LGBTQIA+ people.
The declaration, titled “Declaring the Sanctity of Life and the Dignity of All,” became public Wednesday as part of a conference held online due to Covid19 restrictions. Major signatories include nine archbishops, including anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen, and several other prominent Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders.
“We acknowledge, with profound regret, that some of our teachings have created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice, and result in violence. This has led, and continues to lead, to the rejection and alienation of many by their families, their religious groups and cultural communities,” the declarations states. “We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching. We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.”
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This global declaration comes after Pope Francis declared support for same-sex civil unions in October 2020. However, other religious leaders, like Peter Lynas, U.K. Director of the Evangelical Alliance representing 3,000 churches in the country, told the BBC that while he condemns any coercive action, he is concerned a ban could criminalize counselors and pastors, as “change or conversion…are central to Christianity.” Similarly, Oxford Islamic scholar Sheikh Ramzy says imams should be allowed to help Muslims who want to change their sexual orientation. He says, “we want to help them and not to damage them.”
As of now, 69 nations still outlaw gay sex and many more refuse to allow gay marriage. On the flip side, only four countries outlaw conversion therapy — Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, and Germany. Here’s hoping that ratio changes following this plea by so many faith leaders around the world.
“For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change,” Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, told The Guardian,