Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said that some LGBT people have been driven to harm or even to kill themselves as a result of “pain and rejection” caused by the church.
“Yet at the same time we know that many LGBTI+ people have suffered pain and rejection from Christians, personally and institutionally, to the extent that many have left the churches or in some cases have felt compelled to self-harm or even to take their own lives. And this goes on today. We need to do better.”
Also, the senior Church of England bishop compared the struggle to persuade the church to be truly welcoming and inclusive to LGBT people to the fight against slavery. There had been “other times in the history of communities of faith when people have found it difficult to accept change, and sometimes difficult to see God’s hand in it,” Bayes said. “A classic example is the struggle for the abolition of slavery, and the ceaseless advocacy that was needed on the part of Christians to persuade their friends that God’s love for all human beings had social consequences which demanded justice.”
Researchers have found that attempted suicide rates and suicidal ideation among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth is comparatively higher than among the general population. LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts. This is linked to heterocentric cultures and institutionalized homophobia in some cases and the most prominent institution against LGBT people is certainly the church.
Paul Bayes has already advocated for changing the church’s views on LGBT people. Actually, in June 2016 Bayes "called for far-reaching change in the church's attitudes to lesbian and gay people and a meaningful welcome to Christians in same-sex relationships." He supports the dropping the requirement for gay Christians to be celibate, saying "I've learned to respect the experiences of people who want to celebrate and express their sexuality, and be within the church." He contributed a chapter to the book, Journeys in Grace and Truth: Revisiting Scripture and Sexuality (2016), which aims to show how it is "possible to hold a positive view of same-sex relationships while being a biblically rooted evangelical."
For instance, Canon Jeremy Pemberton married his partner in 2014 and was subsequently blocked from officiating. He accused the church of breaking the Equality Act but lost his case after lawyers from the church argued that he had "publicly flouted" its position on marriage. Alongside bishop Paul Bayes, the Dean of St Paul's argues for the change in law. Both men were speaking to mark the launch of a new strategy by the Ozanne Foundation, a charity which promotes gender and LGBT equality in religious organizations and believes in a world where all are accepted and equally valued.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia