The Bahá'í Faith and homosexuality
1987 Universal House of Justice letter.
1993 meeting of a pro-LGB group.
1987 Letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:
A letter from the Research Department to the Universal House of Justice dated
1993-JUL-5 cited an earlier letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice,
directed to a physician who apparently counseled lesbians and gays. It was dated 1987-MAR-22,
and said that persons with homosexual orientation can change their same-sex
attraction, and were otherwise expected to live a celibate life.
The letter stated, in part:
"...the Faith does not recognize homosexuality as a 'natural' or permanent
phenomenon. Rather, it sees this as an aberration subject to treatment,
however intractable exclusive homosexuality may now seem to be. To the
question of alteration of homosexual bents, much study must be given, and
doubtless in the future clear principles of prevention and treatment will
emerge. As for those now afflicted, a homosexual does not decide to be a
problem human, but he does, as you rightly state, have decision in choosing
his way of life, i.e. abstaining from homosexual acts."
"Your plea for understanding of and justice extended to homosexuals is well
taken in many respects, and the House of Justice assures you of its concern
for the large number of persons so afflicted. Your work with the homosexual
community is praiseworthy, and it permits you personally to exercise the
support which is necessary for these often harassed persons, support which you
call for in your essay. Moreover, your interest cannot but be therapeutic, at
least for the more superficial elements of the problem; however, definitive
therapy of the underlying predisposition, which you consider to be innate but
the Teachings do not, may have to await additional investigations. As for the
responsibility of Assemblies and of individual Baha'is, certainly all are
called upon to be understanding, supportive and helpful to any individual who
carries the burden of homosexuality.
"As a young physician, you may wish to use this quotation, taken from a
letter written by the Guardian to an individual believer in March l9S0, as
your guidance: "To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious
soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and
determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap."
Over two decades have passed since the writing
of the original letter. In spite of extensive research and study, no effective method of
preventing homosexual or bisexual orientation has been found. Also, no treatment
to change a person's sexual orientation has been developed, with the exception
of reparative therapy which appears to have a success rate less than
1993 gay-positive meeting:
On 1993-SEP-3 to 5, at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is
of the United States, a group of gays, lesbians and supporters gathered in Reno, NV to
discuss the beliefs and practices of the Baha'i Faith with regard to homosexuality. The
meeting was organized by the Local Spiritual Assembly of Reno and members of the Gay
Baha'i Fellowship. On a letter to the Assembly dated 1993-SEP-20, they raised a
number of points:
In an apparent reference to the high suicide rate among gays and lesbians, they said:
of us have been in hiding from our Baha'i communities, we have all been made to feel
unwelcome in our own religion. For a few of us, it seems that alienation, confusion, and
despair has been too heavy a burden to bear."
||"Many of us believe that this issue revolves around the Baha'i principle of the
reconciliation of science and religion."
||"None of us has found in all our efforts any evidence whatsoever that a
homosexual can be changed into a heterosexual by medicine or psychological treatments. Our
personal experience supports the accepted view of science."
||"...recent data strongly suggests that sexual orientation is not only
non-pathogenic, but prenatal, in fact in part genetically determined."
They cite a conflict between:
||"On the one side, a person's unchangeable sexual
and emotional needs, supported wholeheartedly by medicine and psychology and further
strengthened by a global movement in Gay and Lesbian rights. On the other side, the
morality and censure of their chosen Faith. This is no small dilemma." 2
The group produced a series of recommendations to the Assembly:
||"...greater compassion and forbearance in regarding homosexual Baha'is." They
suggested that administrative action be taken against gay or lesbian Baha'is only in cases
of "genuine public scandal."
||An end to "backbiting, intolerance, and unkindness" directed at gays'
and lesbians' private behavior. They called for an end to a double standard; they felt
that homosexuals and heterosexuals were treated differently for the same behaviors. The
asked for a review of all cases where voting and other rights were removed from gays or lesbians.
||Creation of a learned committee "to develop a plan to enlighten and educate the
American Baha'i community concerning homosexuality..."
||Creation of a group: Baha'i Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians
modeled after the existing, secular PFLAG.
||The Gay Baha'i Fellowship provide a speakers bureau as a resource to the Baha'i
||The Assembly should make a "clear statement about whether gays and lesbians are
welcome in the Baha'i Faith." They expressed concern about the negative effect
that lack of acceptance of homosexuality by the Baha'i Faith is having upon individuals in
the scientific, civil rights, and progressive religious communities.
||That Auxiliary Board Members and their assistants be provided "with up to date
materials, resources, and background on this subject." They expressed concern
that "the focus to date has been one of "changing' sexual orientation which
is not a reachable goal, in light of current scientific findings."
||The Assembly should instruct Local Spiritual Assemblies to stop encouraging marriage as
a cure for homosexuality in view of the disastrous consequences that generally result. They
recommended that lists of AIDS resources and support organizations be made available all Baha'i institutions and individuals.
||The group offered to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about these
They received no response from the Assembly at the time. However, the latter have
since gone on record as welcoming gays and lesbians as members, as long as they
make a "sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their
conduct." Presumably this means that they try to change their sexual
orientation and/or remain celibate. More details below.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"The Bahai's and the homosexuals," at:
www.studiedocumenten.googlepages.com/ This is a PDF file.
Letter containing recommendations to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is
of the United States from a gay-positive group is at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson