As conservative ideologies infused by religious doctrines continue to hold sway in societies across the globe, the women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people remain primary subjects of oppressive laws and practices. The freedom to hold or not hold religious beliefs is an important human right. However, when personal religious beliefs form the basis for policies and practices that affect the public at large, the results can often lead to the marginalisation and oppression of those whose gender, sexual orientation or lifestyle are considered ‘sinful’, ‘unnatural’, unholy and even evil.
Within every faith tradition there are a multiplicity of viewpoints and just as some faith-based traditions have spearheaded oppression, others have been ardent defenders of social justice. The Evangelical Network, Unitarian Universalism and various other organisations and denominational churches around the world have established themselves as leading proponents of equal rights and LGBTIQ inclusion. Thus, the relationship between religious beliefs and violence against marginalised groups is a complex one that raises questions about how societies can negotiate that relationship to ensure that the arc of history does, indeed, bend toward justice.
These are the initial questions which form the launch of this new inclusive interdisciplinary project on Religion, Sexual Oppression and Human Rights.