A couple of months ago, I left a comment asking for an interview with someone about their experiences of being LGBT and Baha’i at the Gay and Lesbian Baha’i Story Project. The administrator wrote me the following message which she gave me permission to edit for God Made the Rainbow. I was going to edit it to make it a proper entry, but I think the message is worth just republishing in full.

“Thanks for your interest. The situation, briefly, with Baha’is regarding being gay and Baha’i, is that the official Baha’i stance is that treating gays with prejudice and disdain is prohibited (though in reality there is a lot of prejudicial behavior and thinking among Baha’is, which is not punished). Putting one’s sexuality into practice, however, is criminalized for gays – it is against Baha’i law. When Baha’is discuss homosexuality, they often lump it together with arson, theft, murder – all of which are also against Baha’i law and have heavy penalties, including “burning” (for arson). Because there is as yet (thank God) no Baha’i State, with the ability to carry out extreme punishments, the current punishment for homosexual behavior (which is left up to the Universal House of Justice, the highest Baha’i governing body, whose membership is limited to males) consists of potential loss of administrative rights, or perhaps expulsion from the Faith. So it’s a bit of a paradox.

It is understandable that because homosexual behavior is criminalized, naturally Baha’is tend to have prejudicial attitudes about it, despite being told by Baha’i authorities that they should not treat gays with prejudice or disdain. So it’s the old hate the sin, not the sinner theme. Baha’is in general, in my experience, avoid discussing this topic. There are many Baha’is like myself who see the criminalization of homosexuality as contrary to the findings of science, and a strange violation of the Baha’i principle that science and religion must agree, and if they do not, then the religious position is superstition. Gay Baha’is who have chosen to make a life commitment to a same-sex partner and have married in a state or country where it is legal, have at least lost their Baha’i administrative rights – they cannot vote in Baha’i elections, attend Baha’i Feasts (the equivalent of Christian church – a regular devotional service for Baha’is, but where Baha’i business is also conducted), contribute to the Baha’i Fund, hold any office in the Faith, etc. Apologetic Baha’is will say that that is not discriminatory, because any Baha’i, gay or not, who is married without having a Baha’i marriage is subject to loss of administrative rights. Of course gays don’t have the option of a Baha’i marriage (unless they marry a partner of the opposite sex)….and in my experience, straight Baha’is who marry without a Baha’i marriage are often not punished – they are just ignored.

Baha’i teaching considers homosexuality to be a distortion of human nature, and spiritually condemned. Some Baha’is are working to bring a more enlightened view regarding homosexuality to the Baha’i “powers-that-be.” I would not hold my breath waiting for change any time soon, however. Baha’i authorities are quite adamant that their view regarding homosexuality will not change, cannot change.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that the official Baha’i position on homosexuality holds that with the help of a competent physician and prayer and effort, you can “pray the gay away.”

Your project sounds interesting – good luck with it!


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