Faith Leaders: Stop Hate Against LGBTI People in the Name of Religion

In recent months, American extremist clergy and faith leaders have used pulpits overseas as a platform for violent, venomous rhetoric against LGBTI people. We have seen this phenomenon grow over the past decade. Pastor Steven Anderson, an Arizona-based pastor who recently attempted to travel to Botswana and South Africa, advocates for the death penalty for LGBTI people. Scott Lively, a pastor from Massachusetts is widely considered to be the architect of Uganda’s 2010 “kill the gays” bill. And the World Congress of Families, a hate group in Illinois, recently gathered in Kenya to promote the “traditional family” and strip away rights for LGBTI people.

We are calling on faith leaders across the United States who stand for human rights for all people—regardless of who they are, whom they love, or the characteristics of their bodies—to stand up and speak out against this export of hate by American extremists. Join us to ensure this violence is not committed in our names or in the names of our faiths.

National faith organizations should contact Harry Samuels at hsamuels@ajws.org to sign the petition.

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Message

Leaders of Faith Stand Unequivocally Against the Export of Hateful Anti-LGBTI Rhetoric

To the Global LGBTI Community and Their Allies, 

We, American faith leaders and faith-based organizations, guided by our beliefs in the divine and our traditions of social justice, stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTI community around the world. Our various religious traditions are rooted in a belief in the inherent dignity of all people, and the conviction that human beings--lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and otherwise--are created in the image of the divine and entitled to have their basic rights respected.

We decry the continued violence against and persecution of people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities/expression, and sex characteristics. We are heartened by LGBTI activists and their allies across the world who are organizing, mobilizing, and advocating against hatred and violence, and we rejoice in the steady steps that they are making toward equality and justice.

As allies of the global movement for LGBTI equality, we forcefully denounce the phenomenon of American extremist religious leaders traveling to countries far beyond America's shores to spread venomous, often violent, rhetoric targeted at the LGBTI community. According to a 2015 Report by the Human Rights Campaign, such leaders have traveled to Uganda, Russia, Argentina, Kenya and many more countries far beyond their own communities, exporting a message of intolerance that encourages and perpetuates violence towards LGBTI communities.

They posit LGBTI people as enemies of faith traditions: One Pastor venomously stated that "there is a war going on in the world... and it's a war between Christians and Homosexuals." Others have gone so far as to claim that LGBTI people are luring away children, spreading HIV/AIDS, destroying families, and are responsible for mass atrocities such as the Rwandan Genocide and the Holocaust. This rhetoric is far more than bigoted words. In some countries, these extremists have provided fodder and support for domestic legislation that would criminalize homosexuality--in some cases, going so far as to advocate for the death penalty as punishment.

To us, this use of faith and religious teachings to provoke and bolster violence and hatred represents a perversion of our traditions at their deepest levels. As faith leaders and heads of religious organizations, we envision a world in which people can live free of violence, regardless of who they are, whom they love, how they present, or what are the characteristics of their body.

We advocate for an end to the criminalization and penalization of same-sex conduct.

We advocate for state protection for LGBTI people against violence.

We support the adoption of full non-discrimination laws and policies that protect LGBTI people from harassment in employment, health care, education, social welfare programs, and the provision of services.

We decry the export of hatred from religious U.S. extremists as it is a direct affront to our vision of global equality and beliefs in justice for all people.

Together in solidarity with our LGBTI partners abroad, we will work to build a world that upholds the principles of social justice that are the backbone of our scriptures, traditions, and faiths.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]