Saturday, 7 July 2012

Standing On The Side Of Love

The Urban Unitarians have been "on the march" again, this time in support of LGBT rights as part of London Pride 2012. Whilst I grew up in a fairly liberal Christian denomination I became increasingly conscious of LGBT issues in religious communities as a sixth-former.At this time section 28 of the Local Government Act was being repealed and I was concerned that some Christian groups were opposed to this. Fairly high on my list of reasons why I never became a member of a church was that I wanted no part of anything that would wilfully exclude anyone on the basis of their gender or sexuality. Many of the conservative Christians I met at University would claim "we are not homophobic, God loves the sinner and hates the sin". To me however, it seemed as though a value judgement was still being made.
Today, I am proud to be a Unitarian because I am part of a movement that offers civil partnership ceremonies on religious premises. Although there is proposed legislation for equality in civil marriage, full equality will come when religious marriages between same sex couples are available on religious premises. I sincerely hope, Unitarians (perhaps along with liberal Jews, Quakers and inclusive mainline Christians) will be the first to offer this.
Today was  the first time I have been on a Gay Pride march. I did not know what to expect but I had been told that the Unitarians at a similar event in Manchester were well received by the gay community, used to being remonstrated with by homophobic religious picketers. I could well understand if some LGBT people feel an aversion to any religious organisations being at their events, particularly if we were seen to be drumming up support for our own agenda rather than standing in solidarity with them. Fortunately, I perceived none of this today other than a few of the flyers I was offering being politely handed back. It strikes me that it would be great if a strong Unitarian presence at such events could grow and be sustained. For both LGBT people and their heterosexual allies, taking an unambiguous stand against the ancient prejudices of some religious communities can come at the cost of unanswered questions of identity and unfulfilled spiritual needs. Our movement should be there to walk with them.