Saying No to Homophobia in Faith Communities
Publish Date: 20/08/2012
Leading faith and interfaith organisations in the UK are pledging against homophobic bullying and violence. Organisations such as the Islamic Society of Britain, City Sikhs, 3 Faiths Forum and many others have left messages of support on the Nothing Holy About Hatred campaign website, to speak out against hatred and homophobia from their own faith perspectives.
Organisers of the Nothing Holy About Hatred campaign are asking leaders and authority figures from different faiths and denominations to join with their congregations, members of the LGBT community, and other supporters, to take a simple pledge against prejudice and hatred towards LGBT people; something that many faith communities have never spoken publicly about before.
Dilwar Hussain, president of the Islamic Society of Britain and Head of the Policy and Research Centre at the Islamic Foundation, is among those who have taken the Nothing Holy About Hatred pledge, leaving the comment: Love, mercy and compassion are at the core of all of our faith traditions – whatever moral position people may take on same-sex relationships, there is no excuse for discrimination or hatred. There is nothing holy about hatred!
The campaign highlights the damage that homophobia causes -including bullying, intimidation and violence- and the high levels of self-harm and suicide amongst LGBT youth. The Lesbian and Gay Foundation has reported that 73% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced prejudice, discrimination and harassment, and the School Report 2012, recently published by Stonewall, showed that over half of all gay young people are bullied at school. The campaign exists to raise awareness of these issues, arguing that people of faith need to do more to tackle them within their own communities.
Rabbi David Mitchell, Reform Rabbi and Jewish Educator based at West London Synagogue of British Jews left the following pledge: On behalf of my congregation I’m honoured to sign this pledge. There is no place for homophobia in this day and age. An individual’s personal religious beliefs can never justify their acting in ways that denigrate, demean and emotionally damage others. Thank you for launching this important initiative.
And from the Sikh community, Jasvir Singh, Director of City Sikhs pledged: As a Sikh, I believe that all people should be treated equally and without discrimination. Homophobia is wrong. Regardless of what one’s views are about homosexuality from a religious or doctrinal basis, homophobia itself can never be defended. Discrimination should be fought wherever it may be, and whatever form it may take, and I am glad to be able to support this project.
British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Faith Matters and Rene Cassin are also among those who have taken the pledge, as well as a number of rabbis, priests, community leaders and people of faith. The campaign is being backed by Phoenix, a group of professionals, thinkers and activists from a variety of religious, non-religious and ideational backgrounds, who aim to create safe spaces for dialogue around issues which are often seen as contentious or difficult to address.
Nothing Holy About Hatred can be found online at www.nothingholyabouthatred.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NothingHolyAboutHatred and on Twitter at twitter.com/NothingHolyHate or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.