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Press Release: Churches and LGBT groups to come together against homophobia

For release: 1 May 2014

One Love logoTo mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17th May, a remarkable event will occur when Croydon Area Gay Society brings together LGBT groups and local churches under the banner One Love, to express their joint opposition to homophobia and transphobia.

Although attitudes are changing and the situation here in the UK has improved immeasurably over the last twenty years, religious groups in many parts of the world are still openly hostile to gays, lesbians and transgender people.

CAGS Press Officer Peter Blackburn explains, “We believe that it is important to demonstrate that not all churches are homophobic. On 17th May, on North End, Croydon’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, eight local churches and eight LGBT groups will have stands, with many more having expressed their support.”

Art Lester, Minister at the Croydon Unitarian Church stated, "Unitarians have long welcomed people of the LGBT community into our churches and our professional ministry. This is more than mere tolerance. Our common life has been enriched by the gifts of many who have found themselves outside the supposed mainstream of human sexuality, just as we live outside the mainstream of popular religion."

His sentiments are echoed by Alison Meaton, a member of the Society of Friends in Purley, who said, “Quakers were one of the first churches to talk openly about sexuality. We feel that the quality and depth of feeling between two people is the most important part of a loving relationship, not their gender or sexual orientation," while Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain adds, “Quakers see the light of God in everyone and so we respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship.”

Further support comes from Father Geoffrey Thompson, vicar of St. Stephen’s Church, Thornton Heath, who says, "St Stephen's stands for the love of God who embraces all people. We are committed to serve and support all who come to us in sincerity regardless of sexuality, gender, age or race."

“We want to make this a happy, fun event that the whole community can engage with,” Peter Blackburn continues, “and so there will be a peal of bells from Croydon Minster, and music will be provided by the Endurance Steel Orchestra, Rainbows Singers Across Borders who are composed of LGBT asylum seekers from a number of countries, and Happy Noise, a brass band recruited from within the LGBT community. There will also be face painting, bubble blowing and hopefully some other attractions.”

Note: For the past ten years, May 17th has been celebrated as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, often referred to as IDAHO. It marks the anniversary of the day in 1990 when homosexuality was removed from World Health Organisation’s list of mental disorders.

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