I GREW up in the Church, and from an early age I was sent to church and Sunday School. On one hand, I met good people and had great friendships, but on the other hand, I was taught certain things to believe concerning the Bible, God, and life.
One of the things I was taught from a very young age was that homosexuality is a sin. I confess I never questioned this, simply because I had no cause to, but then I remember in my late teens a friend coming out as gay. Not only do I remember him sharing that he tried many times to “pray away the gay,” but I also remember how the Church treated him; he had no choice but to leave. I truly believe that no human being deserved to be treated the way he was.
This left me with lots of questions regarding my theology and reality and when I stepped into ministry life (twenty years ago), I continued to meet lots of LGBT+ people who would share their stories and experiences of how the church treated them.
Their stories are heart-breaking.
Their stories caused me to question my theology.
Their stories changed me.
I love the famous words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic, and that is how deeply I feel about this. I am as passionate about this as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”
I don’t believe the Church will ever reach its full potential if we continue to exclude our LGBT+ brothers and sisters. I believe that the gospel of Jesus extends to all. Therefore, I was passionate about speaking out/signing petitions and campaigning for the ban of conversion therapy as too many of our precious LGBT+ community have been left broken and traumatised by this practice. I am thankful for the many faith leaders who stood together in support of the ban. The UK Government originally promised to ban the practice, but then appeared to do a complete U-turn on their promise. Thanks to the power of public outcry, the UK Government did another U-Turn, and changed their minds once again. However, they stated that the ban would not extend to our Trans community.
What was heart-breaking in the midst of all this is that they made this announcement on ‘Transgender Day of Visibility’, a day when we celebrate our Trans community and champion them to be seen, heard and accepted. On this, their day of visibility, the UK Government made a decision to not see them.
No ban is complete if our Trans community is excluded or left behind. The ban must include our Trans brothers and sisters. Let’s remember that trans rights are human rights.