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Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Interfaith declaration on the sanctity and dignity of all, celebrated in Westminster Abbey

Last Wednesday, an important interfaith declaration was launched, with signatures from faith leaders from over 50 countries around the world, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh. 

The Declaration calls for an end to violence and criminalisation against LGBT+ people and for a global ban on conversion therapy. The Church of England's General Synod in 2018 supported such a ban, as being an unethical, potentially harmful practice with "no place in the modern world". 

An interfaith service of prayer was held at Westminster Abbey to mark this important step. It was a dignified (and socially distanced) service, and perhaps fitting that the Abbey was already decorated for  Christmas, when Christians celebate the new life which was born into the world, calling us towards love for all our sisters and brothers. The service concluded at  the innocent victims memorial, just outside the West Door of the Abbey, a memorial to men, women and children who have suffered death, torture and oppression throughout the world. 

This is the interfaith text: 

Declaring The Sanctity Of Life And The Dignity Of All

We come together as senior religious leaders, academics, and lay leaders from around the world to affirm the sanctity of life and dignity of all.

We affirm that all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.

We affirm that we are all equal under God, whom many call the Divine, and so we are all equal to one another.

We, therefore, call for all to be treated equally under the law.

We recognize with sadness that certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.

We acknowledge, with profound regret, that some of our teachings have created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence. This has led, and continues to lead, to the rejection and alienation of many by their families, their religious groups and cultural communities.

We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.

We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.

We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf.

We call for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – commonly known as “conversion therapy” – to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.

Finally, we call for an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma and commit to work together to celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity

Information about the Declaration can be found here

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