Faith leaders from 35 countries demand gay sex is made legal and ban on ‘conversion therapy’


Faith leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the UK’s Bishop of Liverpool have demanded governments make gay sex legal and ban ‘conversion therapy’.

The demands from over 400 faith leaders from 35 countries come alongside an admission that religious teachings have failed LGBT+ people.

At the moment at least 69 nations still criminalize homosexuality – some with the death penalty. Meanwhile just five countries have banned ‘conversion therapy’ – the dangerous and futile attempts to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people.

The joint statement, launched today, says: ‘We recognize with sadness that certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.

‘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.

‘We ask for forgiveness from those whose live.’

‘The Muslim community is ready for this conversation’

The statement stops short of actually specifically backing full equality on issues such as same-sex marriage – which many religions consider contentious.

However, it does demand ‘justice’ and an end to criminalization:

‘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.

‘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 joint statement goes on to demand ‘an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma’

Signatories include former Irish president former Irish President Mary McAleese, a prominent Roman Catholic, anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa, Archbishop of Canada Linda Nicholls and the UK’s Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes.

In total, organizers say nine Archbishops, 51 Bishops and 16 Deans from across the Anglican Communion, 65 rabbis and various religious leaders from the Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions have signed.

One of them, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, former senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, admitted to Thomson Reuters Foundation that ‘our religions … still have a lot that we are culpable for’.

Meanwhile Imam Muhsin Hendricks, founder of 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.’

The Ozanne Foundation charity organized the initiative to mark the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives today.

The UK government is sponsoring the virtual conference accompanying the launch, despite the fact the country has still not banned ‘conversion therapy’, having promised to do so for several years.



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