Remember over the summer when Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church “should seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them”? Well, Australian organization Equal Voices, launching in early April, seems to be following in the pope’s footsteps. According to BuzzFeed News, the group consists of nondenominational Australian Christians with “fairly conservative church backgrounds” who are concerned with the way Christians and their churches have treated members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) community — and they are looking to make a change.
And where are they starting? With a formal apology to LGBTIQ Christians, according to BuzzFeed News. The apology (which Christians can add their names for here beginning March 1, 2017), includes a request of forgiveness for a list of things, among them: “for being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you,” in the first place, and, “for perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences.” It doesn’t end there. There are some actionable items, as well, including, among others, a commitment to “hold others to account for careless, hurtful, or misleading talk.”
Equal Voices came to be in part because the members believed that straight Christian allies like themselves needed to play a bigger role in convincing churches to be more inclusive. As the organization’s website says, “We acknowledge that the church, globally and locally, has often failed to be Christlike and has been flawed in its understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) realities and experience.” “For too long, gay and lesbian people in the churches have been asked to carry the load by themselves,” spokesperson Natalie Cooper told BuzzFeed News. Now, members of Equal Voices plan to share the load alongside the LGBTIQ community. Cooper added, “What’s often denied is that there are large numbers of [LGBTIQ] people of faith. Some of those people are in church, some of them are out, a lot of them are closeted because they don’t feel safe being out.” So, where do they go from here? The members of Equal Voices plan to take the apology to the Parliament House in Australia’s capital, Canberra, and deliver it to the LGBTIQ community there. Equal Voices will soon be accepting members (no exact date yet), but for now, you can sign up here to stay in touch.