The ban has been lifted on LGBTQ Mormon church goers after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has decided that it will now practice acceptance amongst its parish.
On April 4, the denomination announced the reversal of its controversial 2015 policy that deemed same-sex couples and marriage equality “apostasy” and effectively blocked children of LGBTQ parents from joining the church.
“Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Dallin H. Oaks, one of the church’s senior leaders.
In a released statement, Oaks said that same-sex marriage is still to be considered “a serious transgression”. However, it will no longer be seen as apostasy, which could result in excommunication.
Instead the “immoral conduct in heterosexual and homosexual relationship will be treated in the same way,” he said.
It is the churches hope that “our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion, and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of good will”.
The measure set in 2015 saw a significant dissent in the church, with more than 2,000 members resigning and protesting. The Church says it has over 67,000 full-time volunteer missionaries and a membership of over 16 million people.
The President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, said that the decision is an important step.
“There’s still work to do but this policy reversal is a very welcome change that moves the church closer to a day where LGBTQ Mormons can see themselves affirmed and included within their faith community,” he said.
LGBTQ Mormon support organisation Affirmation said the Church’s shift “provides breathing space for families, but leaves many still wondering what their future in the Church can be”.
While, Sam Brinton, head of advocacy for LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organisation, Trevor Project added: “We hear from LGBTQ young people in crisis every day who struggle to reconcile being part of both the LGBTQ and faith communities, and decisions to end policies of exclusion can help LGBTQ youth
feel seen, loved, and less alone”.