Last year saw Queensland, the ACT and Victoria all vote to ban conversion practices in various settings. While across the ditch in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden also spoke a big game in the lead up to the country’s 2020 elections by declaring that New Zealand Labor, if re-elected, would ban conversion practices in New Zealand as well.

Now, it appears that there is hope on the horizon for survivors of these damaging practices in communities the world over with more than 370 leaders representing a myriad of religious organisations coming together in early December 2020, to call for bans on conversion practices.

“We recognise that certain religious teachings have, throughout the ages, been misused to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex,” the leaders said in a statement. “This must change.”

The declaration, led by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBTQI Lives, also calls for an end to violence and criminalisation against LGBTQI people.

Conversion practices are of course highly damaging, and despite this are believed by many to be an effective way to change a person’s sexual or gender identity. Yet in turn they inflict severe pain and suffering and often result in long-lasting psychological and physical damage.

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 Among those who have added their voice to growing calls to ban conversion practices are South African cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen, along with the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland.

Other notable religious leaders who have declared their support for the ban of conversion practices include 1984 Noble Peace Prize winner, Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, the president of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California; the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; and the Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, president of the Alliance of Baptists.

The pledge by the religious leaders calls “for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” to end — and for the practice to be banned, with many claiming that it reflects a growing trend of spiritual leaders supporting rights for LGBTQI people more broadly.

The pledge said, “We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.”

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