Religious leaders from across the globe representing the world’s main faiths have come together to take a stand against gay conversion therapies. They are calling for a global ban on the controversial practice.

Over 370 figures representing more than 35 countries, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a declaration by the Global Interfaith Commission for LGBT+ Lives to speak out against the criminalisation of members of the LGBTQI+ community and call for a global ban on conversion therapy.

In the declaration, these key religious figures ask for forgiveness for the harm some of their teachings have enacted on members of the LGBTQI+ community, and encourage everyone to celebrate inclusivity.

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

The initial list of signatories includes nine Archbishops, 51 Bishops and 16 Deans from across the Anglican Communion, 65 rabbis and various religious leaders from the Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions.

This declaration marks the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, which aims to “to affirm the sanctity of life and dignity of all.”

“We recognise that certain religious teachings have, throughout the ages, been misused to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change,” explains the Commission.

“That is why we have launched the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, which aims to provide a strong and authoritative voice from religious leaders across the global faith community who wish to affirm and celebrate the dignity of all, independent of a person’s sexuality, gender expression and gender identity.”

Conversion therapy, often performed by religious leaders, claims to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or identity. According to research by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), in extreme cases people are “subjected to corrective violence and invalid medication (including anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and hormone injections).

“Electroconvulsive therapy, aversive treatments using electric shocks or vomit-inducing drugs, exorcism or ritual cleansing (often involving violence while reciting religious verse), force-feeding and food deprivation, forced nudity, and forced isolation and confinement are some of the more extreme examples of conversion therapy.”

The practice is undertaken with adults and often minors who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and gender diverse.

Those that support the practice believe that one’s sexuality is chosen and can thus be changed or “cured”, an idea which has been debunked and discredited by major medical associations across the globe.

The IRCT says the practice of conversion therapy violates the basic human rights of individuals and the standards and ethics of the medical and mental health professions, with no medical or scientific validity.

“The act of conversion therapy is cruel, inhuman and degrading and, in many cases, torture and should be made illegal in all countries,” the IRCT said in a statement.

In April, the IRCT and the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG)  found that conversion therapy is still practised in more than 69 countries including Cambodia, Kenya, Israel, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Dominican Republic.

If you would like to support this declaration, you may sign it HERE. Signatures can be made publicly or privately.

Picture: Facebook / Desmond Tutu

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