CWU Equality Month: Challenging faith based homophobia/biphobia/transphobia with integrity and freedom

Union Matters, Education, Equalities

                                      Maria Exall

Thursday 25th March 2021

There are increasing numbers of LGBT+ people of faith leading out, proud and believing lives.  Those of us who are members of a faith community and also LGBT+ acknowledge  both of these different and important aspects of our everyday life. We  respect the traditions of  our family and community and also live as LGBT+ people with integrity. Love and justice are the real values of the traditions of all major faiths.   

Whilst many ‘official’ church pronouncements can be alienating for us, the reality on the ground in our local Churches, Mosques and Synagogues etc can be much more accepting and inclusive. In many faiths there are organisations for LGBT+ people who can challenge the faith based homophobia/biphobia/transphobia from within.

LGBT+ Catholics meet for Masses in SoHo where they are welcomed and valued. Trans priests including Rev Rachael Mann and Rev Christina Beardsley have led the way in calling for change in the Church of England.

In Muslim communities both IMAAN and the Hidayah network provide a space for LGBT+ Muslims to support each other and challenge prejudice within Muslim communities on LGBT+ issues. They also provide a space to challenge the racism that sometimes readers its ugly head  in LGBT+ venues and organisations.

As LGBT+ people of faith we expect our loving and committed relationships to be recognised as much as our straight friends and relatives but often that is not the case n religious setings. However some of the Christian non conformist and free churches support same sex marriages and many others offer blessings to same sex couples including progressive Jewish communities.

The issue of  gay conversion therapy – when individuals are counselled to change their sexual orientation or conform to gender behaviours is being fought by many within the churches. More and more people  recognising it as a form of ‘spiritual abuse.’ It is hoped the Government will keep to their promise to ban conversion therapy and the Labour Party is committed to doing this.

Contrary to popular views  some faith schools are pro active on challenging homophobic and transphobic bullying. Elly Barnes Of Educate and Celebrate, the organisation promoting good practice in schools for LGBT pupils, has worked together with pupils and teachers in many  faith schools.

Some of the most inspiring faith leaders of our time, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, have taken a strong stance in support of LGBT+ communities. There is much hate and prejudice against LGBT+ people in the USA arising  from reactionary sections of the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Churches. Yet new President Joe Biden, himself a liberal Catholic, has brought in the Equality Act giving equal rights at work for LGBT+ employees across all of the United States. Young Christians in  Hungary have resisted the reactionary and homophobic Christian nationalism of the Vicktor Orban and  young people in Catholic Poland have protested against the LGBT+ Free zones of the ruling right wing Law and Justice Party. Change is coming.

Join us for our Online Equality Event tomorrow!

Friday, 26th March – 09.30am -4pm

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