This year Quakers mark 50 years since the release of Towards a Quaker View of Sex, a controversial 1963 book that included a groundbreaking affirmation of homosexuality at a time when homosexual behaviour was criminalised in most countries around the world.
The book, by a small UK-based group within the worldwide Christian-affiliated religious organisation, included the statement:
“An act which expresses true affection between two individuals, and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual.”
The anniversary prompted a meeting last week in London to commemorate the book’s publication, with the last surviving contributing author invited to explain how the book came about.
Australian Quakers in particular have long held progressive views on homosexuality, with a statement at the 1975 national meeting explicitly calling on the Australian Government to decriminalise homosexuality.
“The Society also calls on all people to seek more knowledge and understanding of the diversity of human relationships and to affirm the worth of love in all of them,” the statement read.
Officially known as The Religious Society of Friends, Quakers in Australia have celebrated same-sex commitment ceremonies since 1994, and have celebrated marriages between Quakers regardless of sexual orientation or gender since 2010.