Press Release: European LGBTIQ Christians Welcome Strong EU “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy”

More Support of LGBTIQ People of Faith Is Badly Needed

The Board of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups welcomes the new EU “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy” for 2020–2025 issued on 12 November 2020. Serious challenges for all LGBTIQ people are identified and actions proposed. Many intersections in the lives of LGBTIQ people are mentioned. The European Forum believes a stronger emphasis on the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion & belief is needed to face contemporary dangers to all LGBTIQ people.

Religious Right

In the past decade, LGBTIQ people and their organisations have seen an increase in the development and influence of the so-called “religious right”. Conservative organisations and conservative churches have been tying the knot to stop the progress of protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people and women, especially. Only recently (August 2020), the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki supported the proposal of the Polish (Roman Catholic) bishops to create reparative therapy clinics for LGBTIQ people, who seek to “control” their sexual orientation or gender identity. The European Forum is deeply disturbed by these developments. The European Forum welcomes the new “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy” for 2020–2025 of the European Union issued on 12 November 2020 as it clearly addresses such dangers as the anti-gender ideology, which denounces support of more rights for women, and also the existence of so-called “LGBT ideology-free zones” in Poland, which are very harmful to LGBTIQ people. The members of the European Forum are very happy to have a strong ally in the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and also in the EU Commissioner for Equal Rights Helena Dalli, who made this new strategy possible.

More Support for LGBTIQ People of Faith

The increase of challenges that are related to conservatism, be it religious or not, calls for a much more generous and effective support of LGBTIQ people of faith by the European Union than is the case now. The Board of the European Forum is happy to see the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion & belief mentioned in the new EU “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy” for 2020–2025 but does not see that reflected in sufficient actions that include LGBTIQ people of faith and their organisations in taking up the challenges caused by religious conservatism. The European Forum regrets this as a missed opportunity to see them as key agents of change. The Board of the European Forum therefore calls upon the European Commission to build upon the here relevant planned actions and include concrete support to LGBTIQ people of faith and their organisations.

Dutch Example

One of the few governments that have thus far generously supported LGBTIQ Christian organisations in their fight for equality and social acceptance in society and their communities of faith is the Government of The Netherlands. Since 2008, many different projects have been supported as well as the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups. The support has empowered LGBTIQ Christians to make a difference in their communities. Only very recently, discussions around the exclusivity of conservative reformed schools in The Netherlands saw a strong opposing voice of LGBTIQ Christian youth, pressing for safe education and dialogue. The testimonies would not have been possible without the support of a government that seeks full participation of all its citizens, including LGBTIQ people of faith. The Board of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups appeals to the European Commission to study this example and use its results to support LGBTIQ people of faith and their organisations Europe wide.

European Forum

The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups is an ecumenical association of LGBT Christian groups in Europe, founded in 1982. The European Forum aims to achieve equality and inclusion for LGBTIQ people within and through Christian churches and other religious bodies and multilateral organisations. With over 40 member groups from more than 20 countries in Europe, the European Forum works for freedom of religion for LGBTIQ people, for human rights, for the dignity of LGBTIQ people and for an affirmative discourse on human sexuality.