Thinking Anglicans

UK government hosts launch of Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives

The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives has brought together over 350 senior faith leaders from around the world to call for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT people and for a global ban on conversion therapy.

They have released a video of senior faith leaders saying this declaration.

They are holding a one day conference today, 16 Decemberwhich is available as a livestream from 0930 – 1630. This is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

The programme of the conference can be viewed here.

The Bishop of London has recorded this welcoming video.

This will be followed at 1730 by a Celebration at Westminster Abbey with both the Dean of Westminster and the Dean of St Paul’s.

They invite all people of faith to sign the declaration with them.

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

Media coverage


Over 350 religious figures from the world’s main religions have signed a historic Declaration calling for an end to violence and criminalisation of LGBT+ people, and a global ban on conversion therapy.

The FCDO has funded a conference that is being held today online to mark the launch of the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, bringing together hundreds of religious leaders from around the world. Central to the day is the launch of a Declaration that has been signed by leaders from 35 countries and all main religions, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu with eight other archbishops, Rabbi David Rosen and the former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese.

The Declaration recognises the harm that certain religious teaching has caused the LGBT+ community and asks for their forgiveness, before calling on all nations to end violence against LGBT+ people as well as a global ban on conversion therapy. It ends with a call for all to “celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity”

A video of the Declaration featuring a range of senior religious figures has also been released. This is fronted by the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, who co-chairs the Commission alongside Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism 2012-2020. Bishop Paul also chairs the Ozanne Foundation, which is the organisation that is managing the initiative under the leadership of Jayne Ozanne, a member of the government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel.

Speaking at the launch event, Rt Revd Paul Bayes said:

“Today is a landmark day in global faith and LGBT+ relations. For too long, religious teachings have been misused – and are still being misused – to cause deep pain and offence to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. This must change, which is why we have joined forces to launch the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives which aims to provide a strong and authoritative voice amongst those who wish to affirm the sanctity of life and the dignity of all.”

The Declaration is now available online for all people of faith to sign. Speaking about the difference she hoped the Declaration would make, Director Jayne Ozanne said:

“We are encouraging all people of faith to sign this declaration, so that we can give a clear message to all countries that religious teaching does not tolerate prejudice and should never be used to endorse discrimination. Our hope is that LGBT+ people and their allies will share it with their own faith leaders and ask them to sign it too.”

The conference involves over 20 speakers from across the faiths and is being live streamed. It also features messages from the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, the Argentinian Ambassador to Italy, HE Roberto Manuel Carles and the UN Independent Expert for Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz.

The opening Keynote speaker is Revd Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth – daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah. Mpho also features in the video. She is married to Marceline Tutu van Furth.

Explaining why she has become involved in the initiative she said:

“I am proud to be a Founding Member of the Commission. I know from personal experience the deep pain that can be caused by certain religious teachings. There are many LGBT+ people who suffer emotional hurt and physical violence to the point of death in countries across the world. For this reason, we are joining forces as faith leaders to say that we are all beloved children of God.”

The day ends with a private Celebration in Westminster Abbey for all the conference delegates, at which the Very Revd Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s will speak. The Celebration is being led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle.


  1. The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives 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 their sexuality, gender expression and gender identity. It has 21 founding members.
  2. The Declaration is available online in 15 languages and the video has been subtitled for ease of sharing. To date it has been signed by 350+ faith leaders from over 30 countries which include 9 Archbishops, 50 bishops and 64 rabbis including senior Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims.
  3. The conference, which was to be in the state rooms at the FCDO in London and has now moved online, has a full programme of speakers which is being live streamed. All speeches are being recorded and will be available online. The Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP will address the conference after lunch.
  4. The Celebration service at Westminster Abbey is not being livestreamed but is being recorded and will also be available online afterwards
  5. Conversion “therapy” is still legal in the UK, despite the government commiting in July 2018 to bring forward plans to end the practice. In July 2020 both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, announced that they would be bring forward plans to ban it. The UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal Borloz, has called for a global ban on conversion therapy, which the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) has said is torture.
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Fr John Harris-White
Fr John Harris-White
3 years ago

Declarations are fine. But meaningless if not followed by positive action. Church of England leaders wake up, and act on these declarations. Not may be in two or twenty years time. But now 2020

Reply to  Fr John Harris-White
3 years ago

Very much so. It’s relatively easy to call on other people to act. For many of us, there is little concrete action we can take but religious leaders can, by definition, lead. Passing that responsibility off to nameless others doesn’t really get us anywhere. The whole event feels like conscience-salving window dressing.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
3 years ago

Only a matter of months since Ruth Bushyager was consecrated as a bishop, a woman who had given a platform to those advocating gay conversion therapy. The bishops are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
3 years ago

Well, this is not the House of Bishops, or the CNC, talking.
What is more interesting is that the FCDO will host the conference. This fact bodes well for legislation against conversion therapy.
After Parliament takes that step, as to all faiths in the U.K., legislation to change the Established Church may follow.

3 years ago

I find it strange that those who suggest that people have no right to seek to change their sexual attractions also believe that it is fine for a person to change their physical sex.

Reply to  William
3 years ago

Where to begin? There are multiple aspects of sex. Some are very visible, some aren’t. For many people they are in sufficient alignment that there is no particular discomfort but for other people one or more are mis-aligned and the dissonance can be very strong. That can be physical attributes – for instance micro-penis in someone assigned male is reasonably prevalent – at least I have personally known several people.   So some people try to bring them more into alignment. The sex they choose might be different to that assigned at birth.   So your statement is based on… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  William
3 years ago

People have every right to change their ‘sexual attraction’, whatever that means. I’m guessing the comment would not approve of people who had been living as outwardly heterosexual or outwardly male or female exploring their possible ‘same sex attraction’ or possible non binary gender? Thought not. No one has the right to spiritually blackmail, compel or abuse someone into changing because an outside agency or person doesn’t approve, like or understand what it means to be different from the heterosexual norm. What is strange is how certain groups have an compulsion to be intrusive and abusive in the lives of… Read more »

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