People of faith have every right to expect respect for their beliefs. People of faith also have the right to their religious views, but where anti-gay religious views are expressed in such a way that they cause distress to other people, then they can be described as homophobic. The fact that the views are coming from a religious perspective is in no way redeeming. Religious homophobia is no more justifiable or acceptable than the homophobia which occurs in the football stands or in the streets.
‘The ‘Big Question’ on Sunday morning was discussing whether homosexuality should be celebrated, and one very vociferous woman was talking about how ‘sinful’ it was. I become so emotional when I hear this that if other people are with me they may guess about my son, and he is not yet ready to come out. My husband tells me that I need to be discreet, but I sometimes find it so difficult. I do hope that our sons will some day be able to stand up and feel proud.’
A parent from Families Together London
Managing strong religious views about homosexuality
Everyone is entitled to their political, religious or moral beliefs. However, it would be wrong to express these views in ways that upset other people.
This is particularly true of those with pastoral or professional obligations.
Those who promote the idea that being lesbian or gay is a phase, for example, should note that increased suicide risk in young gay people is associated with being told that their feelings are transitory (Department of Health (2007) Reducing Health Inequalities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People (Briefing Papers 1-13). London: Department of Health).
The advice given to NHS employees by the General Medical Council, for example, offers this helpful guideline:
‘…You must not express…your personal beliefs, including political, religious or moral beliefs, in ways that exploit (patients’) vulnerability or are likely to cause them distress.’
It is important to remember that, where religious views are expressed in ways that are perceived by the victim to be motivated by prejudice and hate, then this could be classified as hate crime.
(See also: ‘Guidance for Teachers and School Governors’ under Education).