Gay conversion therapy ban called for by almost 400 religious leaders in 'landmark' pledge

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Gabriella Swerling
·3 min read
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 Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among the signatories 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among the signatories

Gay conversion therapy should be banned, according to a “landmark” pledge from almost 400 relgious leaders from around the world.

The UK Government has brought together senior faith leaders to sign “an historic declaration” calling for an end to violence and criminalisation of LGBT+ people, as well as a global ban on conversion therapy.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has funded a conference that is being held on Wednesday online to mark the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, bringing together hundreds of religious leaders from around the world. 

The Declaration has been signed by leaders from 35 countries and all main religions, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu with eight other archbishops, Rabbi David Rosen and the former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese.

The conference comes after it was announced in the summer that plans to ban controversial "gay conversion therapy" will be brought forward following the government’s completion of a study on the issue.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the practice was "absolutely abhorrent" and "has no place in this country".

The term "conversion therapy" refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person's sexual orientation or to suppress a person's gender identity.

Ahead of the conference, Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights, said:  “The religious element around sustaining the criminalisation of LGBT people around the world - many of whose countries have not addressed the laws they inherited from British administration - is very significant. 

“All avenues ought to be engaged to enable people to be able to lead the life they want to lead. Changing what is perceived as a default position of the major religions is critical in unpicking the support for this intolerable dicrimination.”

The Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, who co-chairs the Commission alongside Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, will say at the event: “Today is a landmark day in global faith and LGBT+ relations. 

“For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. 

“This must change, which is why we have joined forces to launch the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives which aims to provide a strong and authoritative voice amongst those who wish to affirm the sanctity of life and the dignity of all.”

The Declaration recognises the harm that certain religious teaching has caused the LGBT+ community and asks for their forgiveness, before calling on all nations to end violence against LGBT+ people as well as a global ban on conversion therapy. 

It ends with a call for all to “celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity”

The conference will hear from over 20 speakers from across the faiths and is being live streamed.

It also features messages from the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, the Argentinian Ambassador to Italy, HE Roberto Manuel Carles and the UN Independent Expert for Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz.