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    Posted on May 27, 2016

    American Baha'is Struggle With LGBTQ Issues

    In recent years, American Baha'is have felt a dilemma between their identities as Baha'is and their desire to support members of the LGBTQ community.

    Why are some American Baha'is leaving their faith?


    In the past two years, three written pieces by Baha'is who left, or considered leaving their faith have gained publicity on social media. All three people who published such pieces left or considered leaving the Baha'i faith due to the faith's stance on homosexuality. The Universal House of Justice, the Baha'i authority of the world, describes homosexuality as similar to issues such as drinking and doing drugs. While Baha'is are encouraged to be sympathetic toward LGBT members of the faith, the UHJ considers homosexuality immoral if expressed in sexual acts. Since April of 2015, three prominent Baha’is have expressed their struggles and disagreements with this stance.

    In recent years, the first person to come forth so publicly on this issue was former Baha'i Sean Rayshel. In an April 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, Rayshel discussed his journey leaving the Baha'i Faith due to feeling that the official Baha'i stance on homosexuality "debased" him, and claimed that he was part of the world's disintegration. Just one month later, out gay Baha'i radio talk show host Jake Sasseville published a statement titled, "Baha'i Curious? Religion and Sexuality" in which he mentioned that he considered leaving the Baha'i Faith. Sasseville stated that being a gay Baha'i makes him feel "unlovable" in what is otherwise "the most accepting, loving, and global community I've ever known." In February of 2016, Baha'i actress Anisa George published her letter of resignation from the Baha'i faith to the Universal House of Justice on George expressed her sorrow in leaving the faith, however she also stated "when it comes to civil rights issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community, Baha'is are so woefully behind the curve."

    Rayshel and George express a sentiment that Baha'i holly texts condemn pederasty, and not homosexuality, as the Universal House of Justice has interpreted them.

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