The Bahá'í Faith and homosexuality:
1980 to 1996: Various official statements.
from a Baha'i counselor
1980-JUL-16 statement on homosexuality written on behalf the House of Justice:
"... you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they
arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to
the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels, perhaps to
concentrate on what we may do to help others along the way to discovering the
Baha'i Faith. The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving
our fellowman in this way, the stronger we become in resisting that which is
abhorrent to our spiritual selves. 7
1995-SEP-11 statement by the House of Justice:
They wrote a lengthy letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of
the Baha'is of the United States.". 1 It stated (in part) that:
"It is important to understand that there is a difference between the Baha'i
attitude toward, on the one hand, the condition of homosexuality and those who are
affected by it and, on the other, the practice of homosexual relations by members of the
"The view that homosexuality is a condition that is not amenable to change is to
be questioned by Baha'is...The statistics which indicate that homosexuality is incurable
are undoubtedly distorted by the fact that many of those who overcome the problem never
speak about it in public, and others solve their problems without even consulting
"...the kind of sexuality purposed by God is the love between a man and a
"If, therefore, a homosexual cannot overcome his or her condition to the extent of
being able to have as [sic] heterosexual marriage, he or she must remain single, and
abstain from sexual relations..."
"The condition of being sexually attracted to some object other than a mature
member of the opposite sex, a condition of which homosexuality is but one manifestation,
is regarded by the Faith as a distortion of true human nature, as a problem to be
overcome... Any Baha'i who suffers from such a disability should be treated with
understanding, and should be helped to control and overcome it..."
"If the individual fails to rectify his conduct in spite of repeated warnings,
sanctions should be imposed. Assemblies, of course, must exercise care not to pry into the
private lives of the believers to ensure that they are behaving properly, but should not
hesitate to take action in cases of blatant misbehavior...A flagrant violation of this
standard disgraces the Baha'i community in its own eyes even if the surrounding society
finds the transgression tolerable."
The authors of this letter appear to have recognized only two sexual
orientations: homosexual and heterosexual. They seem to treat all persons with
same-sex attractions as homosexual, while ignoring persons with a bisexual
orientation. Their reference to "overcoming" and "solving" their "problem" of
same-sex attraction may in fact refer to bisexuals who simply decide to confine
their pursuit of romantic relationships to members of the opposite sex. This
option is not available to lesbians and gays.
Their description of opposite-sex married couples as being in a "heterosexual
marriage" also shows their decision to not consider bisexuals. Many same-sex marriages
and opposite-sex marriages include one or two bisexuals.
1996 Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the UK:
The NSA distributed a statement prepared for a London UK education group about the
teaching about homosexuality within the school system. 2 The Assembly stated that :...the
statement does not claim to be exhaustive, but it can be used with wisdom as part of a
response to questions." Some excerpts from their statement are:
||"...the sexual impulse is a God-given one... The appropriate circumstance for
this is within [opposite-sex] marriage, the legally, socially, and spiritually sanctioned union of two
adults of the opposite sex. Other expressions are neither valid nor to be
||"[This is] taught by the world's great religions, and is part of the basis of a
stable and civilized society."
||"The moral and sexual education of children cannot be taken separately, and must
be based upon heterosexuality, fidelity, and the family unit."
||"...the sexual practice of homosexuality is no more an acceptable activity than
is heterosexual activity outside marriage."
||"We also abhor the introduction of loaded words such as 'homophobia' and
'heterosexism' to try to convey the idea that rejection of homosexuality is as prejudiced
and discriminatory as racism, sexism, and other biases and intolerances..."
Their statement that the world's great religions
teach that sexual activity must be confined to a man and a woman married to each
other is not accurate:
||Islam's Sharia Law permits one man to be married to up to four women.
||Some Mormon denominations actively promote polygyny -- the marriage of one man
to multiple women.
||The Old Testament describes eight
marriage/family styles involving men with female wives, concubines, prisoners of
war, and slaves.
||In addition, liberal wings of many religions promote or condone
other sexual practices. Some accept pre-marital sex between loving committed
couples. Some promote or condone
masturbation for health reasons among males, and to help youths understand
their sexual functioning.
Since there are three sexual orientation among
adults, and since a significant minority of school students will become
lesbian, gay or bisexual in adulthood, many human sexuality educators recommend
that sex-ed classes include information on all sexual orientations.
As to whether the oppression of, discrimination
against, and rejection of gays, lesbians and bisexuals will be treated in the
future as evils on a par with racism, sexism, xenophobia, and religism
(discrimination based on religion), only time will tell.
1996: Draft FAQ approved by the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly (NSA):
Roger Reini prepared a document which was approved for distribution by the U.S. NSA. He quoted from a number of earlier Baha'i writings. The FAQ says, in part:
||"Every good habit, every noble quality belongs to man's spiritual
nature, whereas all his imperfections and sinful actions are born of his
material nature.... if...allows his evil passions to conquer him, then
he is no better than a mere animal."
||"When the animal proclivity in man becomes predominant, he sinks even
lower than the brute."
||"Baha'i law...restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between
a man and the woman to whom he is married."
||"Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Baha'u'llah, is
spiritually condemned.... we do not believe that it is a permissible way of
||"No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the
same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong."
||"Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha'u'llah, and
homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature."
||"...through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and
determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap."
||"...homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be
reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be
controlled or overcome."
||"The Law of God requires them to practice chastity."
||"...being [homo]sexually attracted...is regarded by the Faith as a
distortion of true human nature, as a problem to be overcome, no matter what
specific physical or psychological condition may be the immediate cause."
||"If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public
scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights."
||"To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely
against the spirit of Baha'i Teachings."
||"If the individual fails to rectify his conduct in spite of repeated
warnings, sanctions should be imposed." 4
Undated: A letter from a Baha'i counselor:
A Baha'i counselor, Wilma Ellis, has had published a letter to a non-Baha'i
on the topic of homosexuality. She states, in part:
||"...sexual activity is not the paramount element of human existence
...sexuality must be placed in a proper social and spiritual context, regulated,
and subordinated to higher purposes."
||"Bahá’u’lláh prohibits His followers from engaging in sexual relations outside marriage,
which He defines as limited to partners of the opposite sex. Intentional violation of this law
subjects any Bahá'í to sanctions."
||"...homosexual orientation, as such, does not subject a Bahá'í to sanctions. Only
extra-marital sexual acts do." 5
It is probably safe to assume that, in her
reference to "extra-marital," Ellis is referring to opposite-sex marriage. That
is, if two persons meet, date, date exclusively, get engaged, get married, and
engage in sexual acts together, that a Baha'i spouse would be subject to Baha'i
sanctions if their partner were of the same gender, but not if they were of the
Jonah Winters has scanned and proofread a group of Baha'i writings on
homosexuality prior to 1993. 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Universal House of Justice, "The Baha'i Teachings on Homosexuality",
Letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States,
1995-SEP-11. Reprinted in "The American Baha'i," Qawl 152, 1995-NOV-23,
P. 11. Available at:
The statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the UK is available at:
"Statement on Homosexuality by National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of
the United Kingdom," 1996-OCT, at:
Roger Reini, "Draft FAQ: The Bha'i Faith and homosexuality, A
Compilation of Selections from the Baha'i Writings," 1996-JAN-13, at:
Qilma Ellis, "Eliminating prejudices," undated, at:
Posting to the Baha'i Rants message board by "pey" at:
Jonah Winters, Ed., "Compilation from the Baha'i Writings on
Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-JAN-12
Author: B.A. Robinson