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A new report out of the UK from the Oasis Foundation warns that positions and policies of the Church of England are “seriously damaging the mental health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people outside the Church, often with life-threatening consequences.”
The report reviews a long list of research showing that LGBT people are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems than heterosexuals.
According to numerous studies, at a conservative estimate, LGB people are three times more likely to suffer from poor mental health, with some studies suggesting that figure could be closer to 13 times more likely. These mental health problems can affect LGBT people of all ages, but the impact on youth suicide rates and attempted suicide rates is particularly notable statistically.
A Result of Discrimination
The report suggest that these mental health problems are a result of discrimination and a sense of societal inferiority. The Church of England and local churches are one of the biggest sources of direct discrimination against LGB people, and the biggest contributor of negative views to debates about same-sex relationships in society and the media, says the report.
The report concludes that attitudes and pastoral practices of the Church and local churches are significantly contributing to a narrative that is causing harm to LGB people, leading to depression, anxiety and—in extreme cases—physical harm and suicide.
The report goes on to give numerous recommendations: more research funded by the Church of England in order to take the understanding of these issues to new levels; more funding for mental health support services, particularly those working with LGB people; and an increase in the visibility of local churches that are inclusive to LGB people.
The report urges Churches to encourage dialogue and open conversation on these issues, and recommends that each church in the country plan an annual cycle and mission objectives to consider what can be done at a local and national level to begin to correct this.