150 religious leaders vow to protect LGBT+ lives in ‘revolutionary’ safeguarding agreement

religious leaders who committed to LGBT+ safeguarding principles

More than 150 senior religious leaders from across the globe have committed to protecting LGBT+ people in faith communities.

A “revolutionary” set of safeguarding principles were set out by the 2022 conference of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives on Tuesday (22 March).

Faith leaders from 30 countries attended the conference, including the Anglican Archbishop of Canada, the Chief Rabbi of Poland and the former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese. 

The group discussed recently commissioned research into conversion therapy practices in Caribbean and Hungary and its findings, including the “significantly higher levels of suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts and self-harm experienced” by survivors.

In response, the more than 150 religious leaders agreed to six principles designed to protect LGBT+ folk in religious communities. 

Former bishop of Liverpool and now co-chair of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives Reverend Paul Bayes said in a statement: “This is a momentous event where we are convening senior faith leaders, academics and lay leaders from across the globe who want to work together to protect the lives of LGBT+ people.

“For too long many innocent people have been left totally undefended, with no one to turn to for help. We are now uniting to champion their cause and ensure that this  abuse, which has gone on for far too long, stops.

“That is why we have agreed a set of safeguarding principles that we will commend to all religious leaders of all faiths regarding how they should treat LGBT+ people.” 

The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives’s director Jayne Ozanne, who coordinated the commission’s launch in 2020, added: “The principles, once adopted, are revolutionary and will transform the lives of thousands of LGBT+ people from Africa to Australia, and from Asia to Argyll.” 

The principles are: “Empowerment – We believe all individuals are made in the image of God, whom many call the Divine, and should be free to live a life of dignity, consistent with their sexuality and gender identity within their faith communities without fear or judgement.

“Prevention – We believe that we have a duty of care towards all LGBT+ people and so we commit ourselves to listen to the experiences of our LGBT+ members in order to indentify and eradicate any harmful practice that inhibits the flourishing of us all.

“Proportionality – We recognise that for too long the needs of our LGBT+ members have often been ignored and side-lined, and so we commit to ensuring that LGBT+ people are always given fair voice.

“Protection – We recognise that many LGBT+ people face significant discrimination, rejection, and hatred, and so we commit to work to protect all LGBT+ people from harm, wherever it occurs in both religious and secular contexts.

“Partnership – We recognise that for far too long those of us who are LGBT+ have been excluded from decision that impact our lives and so we commit to always work in partnership so that together we can prevent, detect and report spiritual abuse.

“Accountability – We believe that no one is above the law and that there must always be transparency in all areas of safeguarding and so commit to work with our LGBT+ members to regularly monitor progress.”