Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, a day when people all over the world will be taking action to draw attention to ‘the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.’1
We can become complacent in this country about LGBT rights given the rapid progression from fear and condemnation, through suspicion and tolerance, to fairly widespread acceptance and celebration of LGBT people. Whilst many of us have concerns about LGBT ideology and practice, I’m sure we can all be thankful that LGBT people no longer face prison, physical punishment, or even death in this country.
But days like today rightly make us aware that sadly for many throughout the world, persecution on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity is still a horrific reality.
Breaking the silence
One theme that has been used by the event, ‘Breaking the Silence’,2 draws attention to the fact that there are still 69 countries where same-sex activity is illegal and 26 countries where transgender people are subject to punishment.
As Christians, this should move us deeply and compel us to act out of compassion towards those who are suffering. We are called to speak up for the voiceless, to stand with the powerless, and to help the oppressed (Proverbs 31:8-9). Where there is suffering, we are to be on the frontline, bringing hope and healing.
When the human rights of people who are loved by God and made in his image are violated, we need to be deeply compassionate and concerned.
When the human rights of people who are loved by God and made in his image are violated, we need to be deeply compassionate and concerned. As a global Church, we’ve historically done a better job of speaking out biblical truth on sexual morality than we have speaking up for the broken-hearted and persecuted. We have done too much moralising and not enough binding of wounds.
We don’t need to worry that our concern for people will get misinterpreted as approval of behaviour that goes against God’s purposes. We just need to model ourselves on Jesus who was always perfectly truthful and perfectly loving. Yes, he told the adulterous woman to sin no more, but that was after he’d saved her life (John 8:1-11).
What we can do
Here are a few ideas for how we can put our faith into practice to support LGBT people who are facing discrimination:
- Pray, specifically for those countries where sexual minorities are persecuted.3
- Support and welcome asylum seekers who have fled their country because of persecution.4
- Campaign for human rights and the decriminalisation of LGBT relationships and behaviour. Obviously, wisdom and discernment are needed but there are ways we can stand up for the human rights and freedoms of LGBT people.5
- Be a good friend to LGBT people. Listen well, take time to understand, share life, and treat others as Jesus would.
- ‘What is May 17?’, May 17. Accessed 29 April 2021.
- ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia’, United Nations Development Programme. Accessed 29 April 2021.
- Human Dignity Trust has a helpful Map of Countries that Criminalise LGBT People.
- There are some helpful resources listed by City of Sanctuary UK.
- See, for example, the Voices for Equality campaign.