Almost 400 religious leaders from around the world have come together to urge stronger interfaith support for the LGBTQ+ community and call for an end to the dangerous practice of conversion therapy.
The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives has issued a declaration signed by more than 370 faith leaders from at least 35 countries. The letter unequivocally supports the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for an end to sexuality and gender-based violence from within religious communities.
“We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf,” reads the declaration. “We call for all attempts to change, suppress, or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression — commonly known as ‘conversion therapy’ — to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.”
The declaration’s main point is to affirm that all sexual orientations and gender identities “are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.” It also acknowledges “with profound regret” that religious teachings throughout history have “caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.”
Major signatories include Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, chair of the U.K. Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors; lesbian bishop Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder; and South African Archbishop and civil rights activist Desmond Tutu. Some religious leaders chose to participate privately. The declaration is also supported by the Ozanne Foundation, a charity that challenges anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination within religious organizations by working with faith groups directly.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese, a prominent member of the Roman Catholic Church, was one of the many signatories on the declaration. While signing was an important step, she noted that it is only “a small step towards countering [homophobia].”
“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,” she said in a report published by the Huffington Post.
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