Homophobic church teachings cause LGB suicide and self-harm, report warns

Anti-LGB religious teachings have a strong impact on the mental health of young people, a report has found.

The Oasis Foundation report  ties church teachings on same-sex relationships to mental health issues affecting LGB people, alleging that homophobic from Church leaders makes LGB people more likely to self-harm and even contemplate suicide.

The report notes that people who identify as LGB are up to 12 times more likely to experience mental health difficulties.

Titled ‘In the Name of Love: The Church, exclusion and LGB mental health issues’, the Oasis Foundation says their report  “seems to justify the long-held assumption that church practises and teachings are seriously damaging the mental health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people outside the Church, often with life-threatening consequences”.

It comes as the Church of England faces a backlash over recommendations not to relax the Church’s anti-LGB teachings, in spite of three years of “conversations” on the issue. Limited proposals are set to be discussed at the General Synod meeting next week.

According to report,  while all groups are growing more liberal to same-sex relationships, religious people are doing so at a much slower rate.

While only 37% of the general population opposed same-sex marriage in 2013, according to research by Oasis in 2015, opposition among church-goers was 49%.

Rev Steve Chalke said: “It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people and leaves countless numbers of them living lives of forced secrecy and dishonesty.

“Tragically, it is also common knowledge that the resultant anguish and distress often leads to spiritual, mental and physical harm, and in the worst of cases to people making the desperate decision to take their own life.

“Too often however, these powerful testimonies are dismissed by those that don’t want to hear them – those who are not yet ready to face up to the scale of the damage that we collectively have unintentionally caused.

“My hope is that this report is the beginning of a sea change to this approach.”