GOVV | STATEMENT | LGBTI Inclusion in Faith Communities Forum | 17 August 2017

[Edited extract from public address]

A one day forum drawing together over 100 faith and community leaders to better support the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and gender diverse (LGBTI) Victorians in our communities. 

This occasion was planned in April 2018; however the Federal Government’s planned postal survey on marriage equality, and potential negative impact this will have on LGBTI communities, has greatly increased and brought forward the necessity of this day.

As representatives of Victoria’s diverse faith and multicultural communities those attending would like to say the following:
  • Faith has been a source of both solace and suffering for many LGBTI Victorians; many continue to cherish their faith community but too many have been forced to leave  communities behind due to condemnation of LGBTI people.
  • We know many LGBTI Victorians from faith and culturally diverse backgrounds continue to face exclusion and rejection from families, communities and places of worship, and also from broader LGBTI community. 
  • We also know discrimination and conversion therapy has a devastating impact upon mental health and well-being of LGBTI people. And we know LGBTI people from all backgrounds experience significantly higher levels of mental distress, self-harm and suicide than heterosexuals. This will only be exacerbated by divisive debates if the postal survey on marriage equality goes ahead. 
  • As faith and community leaders, we recognise that supportive communities help to protect and nourish self-esteem of LGBTI Victorians and provide a sense of belonging and worth. We commit to treating LGBTI Victorians with respect and compassion, seek to continue development of inclusive faith-based resources, and work towards creating safe and affirmative spaces in our communities for LGBTI people and their families. 

All Victorians are entitled to live their lives free from fear, exclusion, discrimination, and violence. We call for all Victoria’s communities, including faith communities, to take a strong stand against discrimination in all its forms.

State Government Victoria
Department of Premier and Cabinet, Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion 
Victorian Government Forum on LGBTI Inclusion in Faith Communities
Shoshana Silverman, Senior Policy Officer
Tel: (03)7017 8174