Multifaith conference calls for united response to homophobia

 A one-day conference on Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights was held in London on Saturday. More than 250 representatives from faith and secular organisations attended the day which was opened by Cllr Brian Coleman, Chair of the Greater London Assembly. The opening speech was delivered by Lord (Chris) Smith, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The conference issued the following concluding statement: "We deplore the internalised homophobia within religious institutions that fails to confront prejudice and hate. We encourage and support those faith organisations, which express their commitment to diversity and equality in practice and policy. We believe that full civil rights for LGBT individuals are not only consistent with the right to religious freedom, but are rooted in the best and fundamental teachings of all major faiths; love, justice, compassion, and mercy, such values being shared by all who seek the common good." Conference organiser, Revd Richard Kirker said: "Members of the world's six largest religions, as well as humanists, secularists, agnostics, and atheists, from a wide variety of political parties, trade unions, and community groups drawn from the whole of Britain, showed they wanted to work more closely together in the face of threats from religious fundamentalists." "The spirit and vision of the 250 people who attended showed how much cooperation is possible, and how much goodwill there is to challenge homophobia." Revd Kirker said said the conference would be writing to a large number of faith and public bodies to draw their attention to the wishes of the conference and inviting them to act on key recommendations.

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