The Bahá'í Faith
Introduction to Lesbian, gay
and bisexual (LGB) issues
Baha'i beliefs about same-sex attraction:
The Baha'i Faith teaches beliefs about
that are quite similar to those of Evangelical Christians and the conservative wings of
They currently teach that:
||The only acceptable form of
sexual expression is between a one man and one woman, and then only after they have been married.
feelings of attraction and behavior are improper, and are in opposition to God's plan for humanity.
||Same-sex attraction is seen as a disability for the individual to
overcome. Through prayer, medical treatment, counseling, and much personal
effort, they believe that a gays and lesbians
||Unless gays or lesbians can convert their sexual orientation to
bisexuality or heterosexuality, and enter a marriage with a person of the opposite gender,
they are expected to remain totally celibate.
Baha'i's Catch-22 situation involving the conflict of science & religion:
The Baha'i faith appears to be trapped between two of its foundational
||In contrast with many other faiths, they have traditionally valued and
readily accepted the findings of science. The vast majority of human sexual
researchers and the major medical and mental health professional associations
have reached a consensus that a homosexual orientation is normal
and natural for a minority of adults, and is essentially unchangeable in
||Baha'is believe in the inerrancy of the writings of their Prophet Baha'u'llah,
as interpreted by a succession of church leaders. The last of these, Shoghi
Effendi, interpreted the prophet's writings as condemning homosexual behavior.
He died in 1957 without selecting a successor. Thus, Baha'u'llah's writings
can never be re-interpreted in the future.
The trend in North America is towards an increasing public acceptance of the
near consensus of human sexuality researchers.
The incompatibility between the Baha'i policies towards science and towards homosexuality may
prove to be a major problem to the faith. If current trends continue, oppression
of gays, lesbians and bisexuals will become as unacceptable within the culture
as sexism, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance are today. This conflict may
-- over time -- seriously inhibit conversions to the faith.
If Shoghi Effendi had selected a successor, then she or he might have
reinterpreted the two writings of Baha'u'llah as:
||Prohibiting persons with a heterosexual orientation from engaging in same-sex
behavior, while allowing persons with a homosexual orientation to be sexually
active with members of the same sex, and
||Prohibiting adults sexually abusing children of the same sex.
That would leave the way free for their religion to accept the validity of
loving, committed same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.
But since no successor was selected, the conflict may be unsolvable.
Keeping Baha'i statements on LGB matters in perspective:
Religious organizations -- particularly those those whose beliefs are based
on a holy text like the Torah, Holy Bible, or Qur'an -- have often found it
difficult to change their beliefs and teachings on
moral and ethical topics.
To their credit, the Baha'i faith has been an exception. They promoted
democracy, equality for women, civil rights, and other causes from the time of
their faith's inception in the 19th century. This was far in advance of many
other faith groups. Their current opposition to LGB issues is an anomaly. On this one
topic, they have lagged behind secular trends, rather than leading them.
This section discusses statements by Baha'i individuals and groups over the
interval 1973 to the present time. It is important to realize that a major evolution
in understanding of sexual orientation has occurred over this time interval.
This has been reflected in the laws of some states and countries.
Recall that it was only:
This is an enormous change over the last six decades. However, on LGB topics, the Baha'i faith's teachings have remained static. Future developments should be
interesting to watch.
Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson