As you know, in Ontario and around the world, there is an alarming increase in offensive or hateful words, actions, and political posturing directed at the 2SLGBTQI+ community. As followers of Jesus, we are rightfully concerned and vigilant when we see any individual or group being unjustly targeted. In the baptismal covenant of our church, we vow to “to seek and serve Christ in all persons; to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.”
In Canada, Pride Season refers to a range of events that take place from June to September. It is a time that lifts up and affirms the resilience and value of 2SLGBTQI+ individuals. Not everyone or every parish in our diocese participates in Pride events, but each of us are called to participate in making a safe, loving space for 2SLGBTQI+ people, and to build meaningful connections with one another.
Much of the current anti-2SLGBTQI+ rhetoric in Canada and across the globe is made under the pretext of religion. I commend to you the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives and its safeguarding principles (see attachment also).
I am a signatory to the Commission’s 2020 Declaration, and conclude this note by urging everyone to take its words to heart (see attachment also):
Declaring The Sanctity of Life and The Dignity of All
- We come together as senior religious leaders, academics, and lay leaders from around the world to affirm the sanctity of life and dignity of all.
- We affirm that all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.
- We affirm that we are all equal under God, whom many call the Divine, and so we are all equal to one another.
- We, therefore, call for all to be treated equally under the law.
- We recognize with sadness that certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.
- We acknowledge, with profound regret, that some of our teachings have created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence. This has led, and continues to lead, to the rejection and alienation of many by their families, their religious groups and cultural communities.
- We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.
- We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.
- We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf.
- We call for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – commonly known as “conversion therapy” – to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.
- Finally, we call for an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma and commit to work together to celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity.
Yours in the expansive and indestructible love of Christ,
The Right Reverend Shane Parker
Bishop of Ottawa
September 1, 2023