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The Church of England must distance itself from state-sanctioned LGBT persecution

11 January 2016

 Today demonstrates that the Anglican Church remains bitterly divided on the basis of its position on homosexuality. However, it should not be too great a leap for the Church to oppose the criminalisation of homosexuality all over the world. These criminalising laws lead to the persecution of LGBT minorities by the state, and excuse mob violence and other human rights violations against them. These perpetrators may use religious justifications for their actions. It is in the interests of the church as a moral authority to call, at the very least, for the repeal of these criminalising laws.

Same-sex intimacy between consenting adults in private is still a crime in 78 jurisdictions, nearly half the world. Of these, at least 35 jurisdictions criminalise female same-sex intimacy as well as male. 2.9 billion people live in these 78 jurisdictions: some 40% of the global population.  Of these 2.9 billion people, an estimated 58 to 174 million will identify as LGBT now or when they reach adulthood. Moreover 40 of these jurisdictions are Commonwealth member states, where the Anglican religion is still a present and powerful influence.

Jonathan Cooper OBE, Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust, said:

It is sad that in the 21st century the Anglican Communion still cannot universally condemn the criminalisation of homosexuality. In England it was the Church that called for decriminalisation in Britain in the 1950’s. Archbishop Ramsey led the way. He despaired at the waste of human potential that came with criminalisation. He also recognised that criminalising homosexuals persecutes a whole class of people on an arbitrary basis and necessarily leads to violence and misery. Today, thousands and thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people across the globe will be subject to persecution because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This violence stems from criminalisation. Archbishop Welby is a worthy successor to Ramsay, but he should set his sights low. If the Anglican Communion can come together in rejecting criminalisation of homosexuality, he will have succeeded. In due course acceptance may follow.

Notes for Editors:

For further information, please see the following:

On statements by religious leaders on criminalisation

On criminalisation within the Commonwealth

For further comments from Jonathan Cooper or the Human Dignity Trust’s other expert commentators please contact:

Helen Lawless: helenlawless@humandignitytrust.org / 020 7419 3775 / 07508026371

ENDS

 

 

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