A survey conducted in 2021 showed that an overwhelming majority of UK LGBTQ Christians are not comfortable and do not feel safe in their churches. According to the study, only 31% of the 754 respondents felt safe to be themselves in their local church.
The 2021 Safeguarding LGBT+ Christians survey was conducted by the Ozanne Foundation, an advocacy group that works with religious institutions to "eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender." The survey was conducted online from October 10 to 24, 2021, and targeted LGBT+ Christians over 18-years old in the United Kingdom.
The study is bringing attention to the seemingly non-existing plight of LGBTQ Christians.
Reverend Paul Bayes, a former chair of the Ozanne Foundation and the current bishop of Liverpool, acknowledged the survey's finding. "Silence has a price, and we now see clearly who has been paying it," Baye said.
The majority of the respondent's sexual orientation was gay (47.6%), followed by individuals who identify as Lesbians at 22.94%. Bisexuals were at 20.56%, while pansexuals were at 2.24%; the remaining respondent's sexual orientation was heterosexual or was not disclosed.
Although an overwhelming majority of the participants, 68.71%, said they regularly go to church, only 36.86% feel safe to be themselves in their local church. 17.40% of the respondents said they used to express their sexual orientation in their church but no longer feel safe about it.
Dr. Sarah Carr, the research's independent monitor, acknowledged that faith and belief systems could be beneficial for the mental health of many individuals. The effect may be the opposite for LGBTQ people. "so many have experienced exclusion or judgment by various faith communities." she said in her opening statement on the research.
Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation, said the research should "come as a serious wake-up call to church leaders."
The survey also explored what constitutes safety for LGBTQ Christians. When asked about what a safe church would look like, 75.33% said they don't want to worry about what might be expressed in the sermon. This was followed by "open with the clergy about my sexuality and/or gender identity."
The survey's report included recommendations about what the church can do to help LGBTQ Christians feel safe about being themselves. This included letting members know that their leaders affirm same-sex relationships, using inclusive church statements, positive recognition for the LGBTQ members during sermons, and having a clear stance against conversion therapy.