The Bahá'í Faith and homosexuality
2002 letter from a physician;
Status of Bahá'í LGBTs.
2002: A reflective letter from a doctor:
Sam G. McClellan, M.D., in consultation with the Institute on AIDS, Sexuality
and Addictions, wrote an essay "Some reflections on the Bahá’í Teachings as they
relate to homosexuality." 1 It was revised in 2002-JAN. In it, he clearly
differentiates between three meanings of the term "homosexuality:"
|A sexual orientation, defined by being is sexually attracted to members of
the same gender. It is one of three orientations, including heterosexuality
and bisexuality. His essay appears to be in error at this point, because a
person can be "physically and emotionally attracted to other adults
biologically of the same gender" and have a bisexual orientation, not a
|A behavior, defined by being sexually active with persons of the same sex.|
|An identity, which he defines as "a process of adopting, through self-labeling, an identification with a community that
shares the same preference or behavior, such as the gay or lesbian community."|
Citing a letter written by an unidentified person on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice, he states:
"There is nothing in the Bahá’í
teachings to justify prejudice against any person because he or she happens to
be dealing with issues of homosexuality – either in terms of orientation,
behavior or identity."
Dr. McClellan writes:
|"Bahá’u’lláh forbids homosexual acts as He, indeed, forbids all sexual
intercourse outside of lawful marriage between a man and a woman. A homosexual
union, no matter how faithful and enduring, does not qualify as marriage in
|"To change one’s self-definition requires much effort, support and
encouragement, and it will, most likely, be a complex and lengthy process
marked by small, cumulative successes and a great deal of struggle."|
He recommends reparative therapy as promoted by the
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The best
estimate that we have been able to derive is that reparative therapy
has a success rate below 0.5% and may be zero.
Status of homosexuality in the Baha'i Faith as of 1996:
Persons with homosexual, bisexual or transsexual orientation are all welcomed as
members of the Baha'i Faith. As stated by a draft FAQ approved for distribution by the US
National Spiritual Assembly:
"To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely against the
spirit of Baha'i Teachings. The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of
God, irrespective of their present circumstances; this invitation applies to homosexuals
as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Baha'i
"Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all believers
will make a sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their
conduct which are not in conformity with Divine Law." 2
Any Baha'i member in good standing can be elected to any office within the Faith,
regardless of their sexual orientation. However, gays and lesbians might be declared to be
not in good standing if they flagrantly display their homosexuality. They are
expected to make "sincere and persistent effort" to remain
A fundamental belief of the Baha'i Faith is that true science and true religion cannot be in
conflict. Sexual orientation continues to be studied by human sexuality researchers.
In the West, a
scientific consensus was being developed in the late 20th century and is was firmly established by 2015 that:
||A homosexual orientation is a natural, normal, unchosen, and acceptable variation of human sexuality for a minority of
||an adult's sexual orientation is either unchangeable or can only be
changed in extremely rare circumstances.|
We expect that the Baha'i Faith will experience increasing conflicts over homosexuality
and bisexuality in the West. Some will be escalating internal dissension, driven by Baha'i gays,
lesbians, and bisexuals. They generally believe that their sexual orientation is
natural and God-given. They want their religious group to recognize this.
There will also be external pressure from those in North America who accept
recent scientific findings. Potential converts will be less likely to join a
religion that treats minority sexual orientations as disorders. The legalization of same-sex marriage throughout almost all of western Europe and most large predominately English speaking countries by 2015 will probably increase pressure on the Baha'i faith to abandon the beliefs of their founders.
On the other
hand, discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals may well increase the
growth of the Bana'i Faith elsewhere in the world in those many countries that continue to oppress
homosexuals and bisexuals.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Wilma Ellis, "Bahá’ís and homophobia,"
http://www.studiedocumenten.googlepages.com/ This is a PDF file.
- A "Draft FAQ: The Baha'i Faith and Homosexuality" prepared by Roger
Reini on 1996-JAN-13 is available at: http://bahai-library.org/
Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-JAN-12
Author: B.A. Robinson