Quakers pledge to stand by trans Brits: ‘A gold-standard for other faiths to follow’

An activist holds up a sign reading 'trans rights saves lives' while others hold up signs denouncing fascism during the London Trans+ Pride march where advocates call for trans and LGBTQ+ people to be safe from persecution

British Quakers, the religious society, have pledged to stand by the UK trans community, stating that “all people are equal” in a move praised by human rights activists as “courageous” and setting the standard for other faiths to follow.

Quakers in Britain’s most senior staff member, Paul Parker, has joined more than 215 charity leaders in signing a pledge to stand with trans people against hate amid a rise in transphobic hate crimes. 

“Quakers believe that all people are equal, and that gender and sexuality are sacred gifts,” the group’s announcement read.

The almost 400-year-old religion of Quakerism, which welcomes all people, is the common name for the Religious Society of Friends. The faith unites people through a belief in each person’s ability to experience the light within or “answering that of God in everyone”.

Parker, recording clerk at Quakers in Britain, told PinkNews: “Belonging is being accepted as one’s true self. Who are we to resist what God has created and continues to create in all their glory?

“I want our Quaker communities and workplace to reflect this fully.”

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The Stand With Trans campaign, created and run by Charity So Straight, calls on charity leaders to commit to “supporting the rights of our trans, non-binary, and gender diverse communities”. 

In 2022, statistics from the Home Office showed hate crimes in England and Wales had hit a new record high.

The report detailed at least 155,841 recorded hate crimes from March 2021 to March 2022, which was an increase of about 26 per cent from the previous year, with transphobic hate crimes rising by a shocking 56 per cent.

‘Courageous and Christ-like’

Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation, told PinkNews: “Paul Parker is correct that attacks on charities that support trans inclusion are accelerating, and that this is creating a hostile climate in the charity sector. 

“I am therefore very grateful for his unequivocal support of the trans community at this challenging time. 

“The Quakers in Britain have always been at the forefront of LGBT rights, and I believe their leadership is typically courageous and Christ-like – I wish that other religious leaders could be so bold!”

‘It sets a gold-standard for other faiths to follow’

Veteran human rights activist and founder of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Peter Tatchell, who is one of the signatories, told PinkNews: “I am not religious but I applaud the Quakers’ support for the trans community.

“It sets a gold-standard for other faiths to follow. This proves that not all religions are our oppressors and enemies.

“The Quakers have a long history of solidarity with the LGBT+ community, stretching back to the 1960s. They published Towards a Quaker View of Sex in 1963, the first report by a religious body that espoused a positive & supportive understanding of homosexuality.”

Other signatories include the LGBT Foundation, Mermaids, Bi Pride UK and MindOut – a mental health service for by and for the LGBTQ+ community. 

‘Our voices are stronger together to stamp out this hate’

Chief operating officer of MindOut, Eric Thornton, said of signing the “life-saving campaign”: “Our trans and non-binary siblings are under attack, we cannot stand silent, our voices are stronger together to stamp out this hate.”

Quakers in Britain’s participation in the pledge follows its 2021 agreement to “seek to provide places of worship and community that are welcoming and supportive to trans and non-binary people”. 

In 2009, Quakers in Britain became the first religious organisation in the UK to come out in support of same-sex marriage, and was involved in campaigning for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. In 2021, the group’s LGBTQ+ segment called on the UK movement to ban conversion therapy “without delay” in 2021. 

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