'Faith and Homophobia' conference

The link between Christianity and homophobia comes under the spotlight with this conference sponsored by the think tank Ekklesia and organised by gay Christians which will examine the link between the Christian faith and homophobia.

The event follows a controversial advert by the Gay Police Association (GPA), placed in the Independent newspaper, which highlighted connections between religious faith and homophobia.

The advert reported that in the last 12 months, the Gay Police Association had recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, "where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator."

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has now organised an event to take place in February next year, entitled; "Faith and Homophobia".

The LGCM has itself recently suggested it has been on the receiving end of homophobia by Christians, when the Christian Handbook refused to carry its advertising.

The conference in London next year will look at whether faith groups are 'entitled' to expect their views on sexuality to take precedence in society over those who hold no faith. It was also look at the divisions amongst Christians and other faith groups over issues of sexuality, as well as the attempts to make sense of the competing claims they make.

The conference aims to help those Christians who are committed to full equality for all irrespective of sexual orientation, but who often find it hard to make their case to other Christians. Ideas will also be proposed for how the state, public bodies, local authorities and employers might show respect to lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as to people of faith who do not want full equality.

On the agenda will also be the question of a 'zero tolerance' policy for homophobia.

Under UK law, in some circumstances it is legal to discriminate in employment, the provision of goods and services, and education, on the grounds of religious faith, as well as sexual orientation. Some Christian groups and churches have lobbied government to gain such rights to discriminate. The morality of such exceptions will also come under the spotlight.

The conference takes place on 17 February 2007 at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA. More details from The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM)