Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Should I still call myself a Bahai?

May 21, 2016

“I am a 2nd generation Baha’i who is also gay. For the last 21 years, I have been happily “married” to the most loving and amazing man in the world – easily and without question my Soulmate. During this time, and for a number of years prior, I have been inactive in the Faith. I still consider myself a Baha’i – but I find it increasingly difficult to abide by the current stance of the Faith toward gays. (I am not “sick,” “unnatural,” or “handicapped.” I was made this way. And our Creator does not make an imperfect creation. I am perfect just the way I am. But enough on the truth it’s taken me my lifetime so far to realize.)
On to my question…

Is there any reason for me to continue to have any affiliation with a faith that questions my inherent and God-given perfection? Is it finally time for me to just throw in the towel with the Baha’i Faith as an organization and seek spirituality and nearness to my Creator on my own (something I’ve been doing for the past 25+ years anyway)?
To be completely honest, given the Faiths stance toward gays, I’m ashamed to tell people I’m a Baha’i. I feel much more love, acceptance, support, peace, unity- and even spirituality! – within the Buddhist community. What has happened to the Baha’i Faith? Has it already failed less than 200 years later?
I see that I have asked more than one question. I suppose I’ve always believed that the only bad question is the one not asked. Reading over what I’ve just written, some of you may get the impression that I’m angry. I’m not. Just frustrated – and wanting to know your thoughts.”

A: Only you can decide if the Baha’i Faith is still right for you. I have chosen to go it alone. I can not be part of a religion that doesn’t fully accept us and I don’t see any chance of them accepting us in the future.

B: It is the question that I have been struggling with for over 30 years since my administrative rights were removed. It helps to voice the question, and the frustration. I can see a time when I will be able to completely disassociate myself from the Faith, but that moment hasn’t arrived. I keep hoping that there will be a positive change toward embracing all. It defies reason that it hasn’t happened yet, but I keep hoping.

C: I have similar questions, myself. I usually tell people I’m an ex-Bahá’í, even though I haven’t removed myself from the Faith, only stepped back for 10 or 11 years. I still have some lingering hope somewhere that if enough voices within the Bahai community speak up for LGBT+ acceptance (not this strange sort of tolerance where we’re seen as having an affliction to be cured), then the Faith will move forward. I’m a 3rd generation Bahai and I’m trans and mga (multiple gender attracted), and I’ve been in a same-gender relationship with my partner since 2007.

D: I’m a transwoman – I was in the Faith for 32 years but finally had to leave because it wasn’t working for me on a number of levels. But I think the big one was that it did not give me a way to understand myself that I could accept or live with. And by that meaning that God had made me a man outwardly and inwardly given me the heart and soul of a woman. When I left to find something else – I wasn’t sure what – it was the beginning of a huge awakening still going on today. And one of the first things I learned was that God loved and accepted me far more than I had ever realized before. But I guess I haven’t entirely cast the Faith aside, as I am here reading what others say and making comments.

E: It all depends on if you believe Bahaullah is who he said he is. If so you are a Bahai whether you have rights or not. If you believe that in the big picture the Bahai model is best for the future then support the faith. I disagree with the UHJ not doing their job in modifying the social teachings for the current age. I believe that the continuance of the covenant through the UHJ was to provide a body to bring the faith through 1000 years, updating the social principles of the faith as humanity matures. They seem reluctant to do that. I believe that our spiritual journey is our own and we are responsible to listen to others then prayerfully make our own conclusions.

F: I agree with the Faiths basic belief that we as individuals are responsible for our own spiritual health and growth (hence, no clergy – which I couldn’t agree with more). But I never thought that would include rejecting the “clergy” of the UHJ. (I suppose they are just fallible men and women, after all, but…) I’m all for self discovery, exploration, and personal truth seeking, … but I never thought as a gay man that I’d have to “boldly go where no one has gone before” (to coin a phrase) with my own faith! The prospects are both lonely and scary. And exciting.

G: Gandhi was excommunicated by the Hindu religious authorities for travelling overseas. His friends and family would have been excommunicated as well if they saw him off at the wharf. These days, however, nobody thinks of him as a bad Hindu. I’m hoping the conditions Bahais face within their religion are also temporary, but I won’t hold my breath. I don’t regret my time as an active and involved member of the Bahai community, but I vastly prefer being unaffiliated.
Unaffiliating, whether you remain a believer or not, is enormously disruptive in the short term. But it may be better in the long-term. In the short-term, you're closing a door, but in the long-term, it may well re-open. For example, the 25-year Ruhi program has only five more years to run. Only the individual can decide what to do — but I think it's important to think both short and long-term when making the decision.

H: I’ve noticed some recent outreach to me by the local community (for teaching training as an example, which is opened up to anyone to help implement the 5 year plan), so while I’m a non-enrolled convert…I remain hopeful. At the very least (and this can be considered separate but equal), the community seems to be trying to figure out how to fit folks in who can’t follow all the “rules” or whatever. It’s a step.

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“Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act”

May 21, 2016

A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. Simply keeping up has been exhausting. There is so much painful hatred and willful ignorance being spewed that I have, to some degree, shut down and …

Source: “Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act”

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President Obama Says Racism And Homophobia Come From The Same Mindset

August 10, 2015

I am very busy working on a few blogs but in until I have time, I leave you with these inspiring words of Obama Barack:
“You can’t, on the one hand, complain when somebody else does that to you, and then you’re doing it to somebody else,” the president pointed out. “You can’t do it. There’s got to be some consistency to how you think about these issues. And that’s going to be up to young people — because old people get stuck in their ways.”

Read the full article by Jean Ann Esselink here >>

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Can a rainbow be partisan?

June 30, 2015
A Rainbow with the Bahai Ringstone symbol designed by Jesse McBride.

A Rainbow with the Bahai Ringstone symbol designed by Jesse Mcbride.

There is a flurry of rainbows on facebook, in celebration of the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision on June 26, 2015, that 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses require states to license same-sex marriages and to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed and performed in other US states.

In a Bahai run group, a Bahai stated that Baha’is publicly supporting gay rights will lead to grave consequences in other countries. It is an argument I have heard many times before, and it holds no water. The fact that our international administration is seated in Israel and that Baha’is believe in a messenger of God after Muhammad are much stronger reasons for any Muslim to be upset at Bahais. We do not hear of Bahais saying, we must stop public statements of belief in Baha’u’llah do we? On the contrary, if Bahais were seen as were a source of comfort or safety, in countries where gays and lesbians are oppressed, that would do wonders for our image as a religion that preaches equality and justice. I am not saying Bahais must be defenders for the oppressed, but it sounds like a good idea to me.

Rainbow flag and the nine pointed star. The star is a symbol often used by Bahais as a metaphoro for unity in diversity. The design is by Jesse Mcbride.

Rainbow flag and the nine pointed star. The star is a symbol often used by Bahais as a metaphoro for unity in diversity. The design is by Jesse McBride.

Then the administrator of another Bahai-run group objected to the flurry of rainbows, arguing that it was divisive, that the rainbow flag represents an ideology of a special interest group instead of representing the broad global needs that the Baha’i Faith aims to serve – ranging from the equality of men and women, elimination of prejudice to education for all children and the eradication of poverty.

Clearly these Bahais have missed the point of the rainbow flag symbol because a celebration for equality and justice for gay and lesbians is also a celebration of the diversity of humanity. Celebrating this does not reduce the equality and justice available to heterosexuals. The assumption made by these Bahais is that a celebration of gay and lesbian rights is something just for gays and lesbians.. This is like saying gender equality only benefits women, but it’s as clear as the noon day sun that when women have equality, society benefits – men and women benefit, not just women. So the flag is only divisive for those who do not believe in equality and justice for all of humanity.

I finish by quoting a few excerpts written by the SCOTUS judges:
“The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change…. For example, marriage was once viewed as an arrangement by the couple’s parents based on political, religious, and financial concerns; but by the time of the Nation’s founding it was understood to be a voluntary contract between a man and a woman…. As the role and status of women changed, the institution further evolved. Under the centuries-old doctrine of coverture, a married man and woman were treated by the State as a single, male-dominated legal entity…. As women gained legal, political, and property rights, and as society began to understand that women have their own equal dignity, the law of coverture was abandoned….

[T]he Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution… It cannot be denied that this Court’s cases describing the right to marry presumed a relationship involving opposite-sex partners. The Court, like many institutions, has made assumptions defined by the world and time of which it is a part…

The four principles and traditions to be discussed demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.

A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy…. A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. … A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education…. Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order …

Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. …

[B]y virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage. This harm results in more than just material burdens. Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society….

Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied….

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.”
-The excerpts above come from religionclause.blogspot.com

See Sen McGlinn’s blog on some implications of SCOTUS in Obergefell for the policies of Bahai institutions.

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My Turn To Come Out

January 7, 2015
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Leserbrief eines schwulen Bahá’ís an die Zeit Online

December 5, 2014

"Ich würde es genauso wieder machen" (Sophie Scholl)

Kürzlich erschien in der Rubrik “Wer’s glaubt” der Zeit Online ein Leserartikel unter dem Titel “Wie eine Perversion menschlicher Natur“, geschrieben von einem schwulen Bahá’í unter dem Pseudonym Lukas Jung. Da ich aus eigener Erfahrung weiß, dass solche Leserbriefe häufig stark nachbearbeitet und sozusagen medienkonformer gemacht werden um mehr Aufmerksamkeit anzuziehen, fragte ich nach dem Original und möchte dieses zur Ergänzung und Richtigstellung des bereits erschienenen und veränderten Artikels veröffentlichen.

Lukas Jung schrieb das Folgende:

Einheit in Vielfalt. Wissenschaft und Religion stehen in Harmonie zueinander. Vorurteile müssen überwunden werden. Selbstständige Suche nach Wahrheit. All das sind Aussagen, die die grundlegenden Prinzipien der Bahá’í-Religion beschreiben. Und es sind Schlagwörter, mit denen Bahá’í gerne ihre Religion erklären. Es waren jene Schlagwörter, die mich dazu gebracht haben, diese Weltanschauung näher zu unter-suchen. Doch wie steht das in Verhältnis zu meinem Schwulsein?

Ich war noch sehr jung und hatte einen…

View original post 1,393 more words

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Baha’is and the LGBTQ Community – Part Two

January 1, 2014

Does Baha’i scripture limit marriage to a union between only one man and one woman?

Not as far as I know. I have found nothing in the Baha’i writings that specifically prohibits same-sex marriage. It’s my personal opinion that the question of how Bahaí communities are to respond to the new phenomenon of same-sex marriage is in the hands of the Universal House of Justice, the democratically-elected body that administers the global Baha’i community. The Universal House of Justice has yet to make a policy that deals specifically with the question of individuals in legally and socially recognized same-sex marriages. I think it is very likely to be a policy which gives National Spiritual Assemblies a major role because conditions vary so much in terms of social acceptance and the law.
The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah’s book of laws, refers to marriage between men and women. That’s why most Baha’is assume that marriage means only a heterosexual union. But in the same book, it is also assumed that men take journeys while women stay at home. In fact all of the laws are presented in the context of the customs of the 19th century middle east which when this was written.

Because no specific scripture stipulates that only men may take journeys, for example, the Universal House of Justice applies the law of “mutatis mutandis” (Latin for changing what needs to be changed) to the gender-specific laws in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. In other words, all of the Baha’i laws apply equally to men or women unless the context makes this impossible.

Is same-sex-marriage impossible for Baha’is today? There’s no text that stipulates marriage is only between one man and one woman and Baha’u’llah provided ways for the Baha’i Faith to adapt and change over time. Baha’is believe that science and religion agree, and that religion should not conflict with science. That’s why the Universal House of Justice can make new policy and change old policy on any issue not defined in Baha’i Scripture.

The Universal House of Justice can also decide to stipulate whether such rulings apply universally or locally. An example of Baha’i policy being applied differently in line with prevailing social conditions in various cultures, is the changing policy on males and females living as roommates in the same house. Even today in some societies such arrangements would be perceived as scandalous, while other cultures view it as completely acceptable. In the same way, some societies view same-sex couples as just as morally upstanding as any heterosexual couple, and civil and marriage laws are rapidly changing to reflect this.

Given that the current policy of the Universal House of Justice — that marriage can only be between a man and woman — what should local Baha’i communities do if a same-sex couple wants to join the community? Or if a gay Baha’i asks for a Baha’i wedding?

According to Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’i administration should be flexible:

“…whatever is deemed necessary to incorporate into it in order to keep it in the forefront of all progressive movements, can, according to the provisions made by Baha’u’llah, be safely embodied therein.”
The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 22.

Shoghi Effendi also wrote:
“Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles, enunciated by Baha’u’llah, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments.” The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 65

In the past, the policy of the Universal House of Justice was that gay couples were not allowed to join the Bahai community:
“… if persons involved in homosexual relationships express an interest in the Faith, they should not be instructed by Bahá’í institutions to separate so that they may enroll in the Bahá’í community, for this action by any institution may conflict with civil law. The Bahá’í position should be patiently explained to such persons, who should also be given to understand that although in their hearts they may accept Bahá’u’lláh, they cannot join the Bahá’í community in the current condition of their relationship.” – Universal House of Justice letter to an individual, 5 March 1999.

That policy from Universal House of Justice has been followed by this 2010 policy:
” … to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.” – Universal House of Justice letter to an individual, 27 Oct 2010.

However some Bahai communities might still refuse married gays admittance to the Bahai community. For example the author of the current Wikipedia entry for “Homosexuality and the Baha’i Faith” states: “someone involved in a same-sex marriage or union will be prevented from registering as a Baha’i and joining the community.” (last accessed, 1 January, 2014) When the 1999 policy was written, same-sex marriage didn’t exist. Today it exists in many countries and the principle that Bahai policy must be subordinate to the laws of the land, would be another consideration by Bahai communities.

As a Baha’i, I hope that the tide of marriage equality now sweeping the world will eventually extend to people of every Faith.

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Stephen Fry’s docu – “Out There” being gay

October 26, 2013

Stephen Fry’s opening phrase on the question of why do people hate gays, “It’s like someone who spends their whole life trying to get rid of red telephones” – why bother? They don’t hurt anyone.

Watch episode 1 of this brilliant 58 minute documentary aired on the BBC on October 14th 2013 and let me know what you think.


or watch this on youtube

In summary:
01:30 Fry is interested meeting people who hate gays because he is gay, but more importantly because: “Homophobia impacts on all of us. It diminishes our humanity”

For Bahais this is like the principle of equality: “The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.” (p 302, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

02:06 Fry in response to that statement that the UK seems to now have laws that exert equality: “It is not a question just of laws. It is a question of the broader outlook of people in society

… part of me wants to bury myself in a blanket and let someone else do any cheer leading for good causes …

It certainly isn’t my job to push things down people’s throats. … “

“One can not just stand by and sing justice if there’s one more horrible case … of a child hanging themselves… because they are being tormented … you have to speak out in the hope that things get better.”

“…With respect to your question concerning the position Baha’is are to take regarding homosexuality and civil rights, …”
“Baha’is are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.” (p 302, Universal House of Justice, 27 Oct, 2010)

03:00 “It is incredible how much has changed for gay people in Britain in my life time …”

“It has only been legal for me to be gay since 1967”

03:33 Fry then attends U.K. civil union and sheds tears at the melting of hundreds of years of prejudice.

06:00 “It seems as if the world is going in two directions at once …”

06:33 “The fear that people hates us makes coming out difficult”

06:38 “For me as a teenager in the 1970s it was a terrifying prospect because there was still so much shame attached to being gay”

06:48 “But then in 76 something inspiring happened. One of the most famous and successful pop stars on the planet risked it all …”
07:10 “It was a game changing moment for me and countless other gay teens who had locked ourselves away in the closet”

07:30 A candid and heartwarming interview with Elton John and his partner.
08:40 Elton John on choosing to have a civil union in 2005 “We did it really to make a political statement but the actual service and actual occasion was so moving that it really changed our relationship.”
David Furnish: “We did it for symbolic reasons and then had this tremendous sense of contentment afterwards.”

“When, therefore, the people of Baha undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God.”
Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 117

10:12: World Gay Pride in London: “Rights can be taken away as quickly as they are given”

11:12: Stephen Fry speaks with various gays at the World Gay Pride in London. One who had been imprisoned for 12 years and made the statement that before British colonialism there were no laws against homosexuality in his country.
12:05 “Out of 84 countries that still criminalize homosexuality roughly half are x British colonies using old British laws, though none of these are among the 5 that currently put gay people to death”

12:55 “If you let words and insults go by unchallenged … if you don’t allow the dignity of gay people … then slowly … “ (to image of young men being hung in Iran)

14:00 Interview with an Iranian gay seeking asylum in the U.K.

17:33 Fry decides to travel to Uganda to speak to some “…of these tyrants to hear how they try to justify themselves and their prejudices”

18:00 Uganda: “… since 2009” “a new law which proposes a death penalty for homosexuals”
18:40 His debate on a Kampala breakfast radio show with a Pastor Solomon Male Executive Director of the Arising For Christ ministries.

19:00 A heated and interesting debate – Fry challenges Male’s claims that Christianity is traditional. Fry makes fun of Male’s focus on broken penises and other physical ailments.

19:21 A private conversation between Fry and Male where Male focuses on anal sex which Fry says is not what all gays engage in. Fry “It is about love… I am not interested in sodomy… this is so sick…” And then he floors Male by saying he has never had anal sex.

23:30 Fry addressing Pastor Male: “Most gays don’t. …Your obsession with sodomy says something very peculiar about you. It is quite extraordinary”

And listen to the Pastor’s response to this, it is a hoot!

24:28 Fry speaks with other Ugandans on the law. One states that he thinks it should be passed because it could never be enforced.
24:55 Fry meets and talks to some Ugandan gays.
26:00 A Lesbian who was raped at 14 in what was called “Corrective Rape”
29:30 Fry: “… to be raped in order to be cured of their inner feelings … it is just insane …”
30:00 Fry meets a gay support clinic, Ice Breaker in hiding in Kampala
35:00 Fry meets the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo who makes statements as if it is unlawful for gays to even meet and has threatened to put people in jail if they do not report on gays to the authorities.

39:30 Fry musing over Lokodo’s idea that gays promote homosexuality “As if being gay was something you could talk people into or out of”

39:50 Fry flies to Los Angeles to find out about Reparative Therapy (therapy that claims you can cure homosexuality)
40:20 Interview with a young Christian man and his mother about why he underwent reparative therapy and its affects on him. “I begged God to make me straight”

42:20 Fry meets and interviews Joseph Nicolosi the man behind NARTH and Reparative Therapy

43:30 Joseph Nicolosi:
“We resolve the conflicts behind homosexuality”

43:40 Joseph Nicolosi: “We believe it is based on trauma”
43:50 Joseph Nicolosi: “We believe it is about the parent”

Watch the rest yourself but at this point Joseph Nicolosi lies about his success rate being roughly 1/3 and the rest of the documentary shows how. See my blog where Spitzer comments on the few cures Nicolosi had over the years.

I find it horrifying that most of Nicolosi’s clients are teenagers and adolescents brought in by their parents.

49:30 Fry interviews a man who trains actors to sound less gay.
54:00 Fry interviews actor and producer Neil Patrick Harris who came out as a gay in 2006.

57:40 And Fry hits it home with this: “…Things do move forward. It is three steps forward and two steps back but in the end it is always progress. People learn.”

Thank you Stephen Fry for going out there and letting us in!

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A Bahá’í View of Homosexuality and Gay Rights?

September 20, 2013

Yesterday I came across this page titled: A Bahá’í View of Homosexuality and Gay Rights while searching on the text:
“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions.”

This page is not written by a Baha’i even though it pretends to represent the Baha’is of Utah. And read to the bottom of this blog where I refute most of these views:

“The Bahá’í Faith teaches that there are certain sexual practices which are “Satanic” (i.e. anything that opposes the Will of God is considered “satanic”–meaning “adversarial” to the Will of God).

Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 107, and Questions and Answers, number 49, forbids paederasty and sodomy. The following extract from one of His Tablets reveals the strength of His condemnation:

“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery (ZINA), sodomy (LIWAT) and lechery (SIHAQAQ). Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.”

ZINA=Arabic word that means adultery as well as fornication (any heterosexual act outside of lawful marriage).

LIWAT=Arabic word meaning “the sin of the men of Lot” (i.e. Sodom). It refers to homosexual “sex acts” and not merely to anal sex as “sodomy” has come to mean in modern American English.

SIHAQAQ=Arabic word meaning “pounding” or “griding”–the female homosexual sex act between two women often called in modern American English “scissors”.

In a letter dated March 26,1950, written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Teachings, further explicates the Bahá’í attitude toward homosexuality. It should be noted that the Guardian’s interpretation of this subject is based on his infallible understanding of the Texts. It represents both a statement of moral principle and unerring guidance to Bahá’ís who are homosexuals. The letter states:

“No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

“To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”

Bahá’ís believe that Shoghi Effendi (shawg-khee ef-fen-dee), the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, was “infallible” in His interpretations of the Law of Bahá’u’lláh. His interpretations are “infallible” and “binding” upon all Bahá’ís, and will be until the coming of the next Manifestation of God; at least 1000 literal lunar years from 1863 A.D.

The Manifesatations of God have told us that certain practices “retard the progress of the soul” in the Afterlife. Among the practices that retard the progress of the soul in the Afterlife are….

1) Adultery

2) Fornicartion

3) Liwat (male homosexual sex acts)

4) Sihaqaq (female homosexual sex acts)

We are NOT told “why” these practices retard the progress of the soul in the Afterlife. We are only told they “do”.

Bahá’u’lláh forbid His followers from practicing adultery, or fornication, or “liwat” (homosexual sex acts), or lechery. He did NOT explain “why” He forbade them! We are not given “reasons” why these retard the progess of the soul in the Afterlife; only that they do.

To be a Bahá’í means to “belonging to Baha”; meaning we have no “free will” but HIS WILL become our will. We trust He is a Manifestation of God. We trust He knows what is best for us. Like small children who can’t understand why we must eat vegitables and brush our teeth, we only trust that our parent only wants the best for us! So we obey.

In practical terms, there are gay and lesbian Bahá’ís, and some or most of them are sexually active in their private lives. This is called MOON-NAW-FEE-KOON (Hypocrisy). Moonawfeekoon is allowed in the Faith. In other words, what you do in your private life is between you and God, but, if your private behavior becomes public, then it is no longer your “private” life. Then it becomes a public matter. Gay and Lesbian Bahá’ís who speak about their sex lives face disciplinary action from the Local Spiritual Assembly (council of nine men and women who act as administrators and judges in local Bahá’í Communities).

Gay and Lesbian Bahá’ís are forbidden from…

1) Speaking about their sex lives in public.

2) Advocating that the Law of God regarding LIWAT (homosexual sex acts) be “changed” (no Holy Law can be changed except by the next Manifestation of God–the next One is now due until 1000 lunar years after 1863 A.D.)

3) Marching in Gay Rights parades.

4) Getting involved in partisan politics or entering into into political or religious arguments.”

I’ll stop quoting that page at this point.

Let’s start with what Baha’u’llah wrote:
In English we the text in a 1995 letter written from the Universal House of Justice addressed to the Baha’is of the U.S.

“To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

The Universal House of Justice has considered your letters of August 27,1993, and September 19, 1994, in which you describe the impact of the changing sexual mores and the public debate on homosexuality on some of the members of the American Bahá’í community who are homosexuals.


As you know, the Bahá’í Faith strongly condemns all blatant acts of immorality, and it includes among them the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex. With regard to homosexual practices, Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 107, and Questions and Answers, number 49, forbids paederasty and sodomy. The following extract from one of His Tablets reveals the strength of His condemnation:

“Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.”

Published in American Bahá’í, 152, 23 November 1995
The full letter is online here

The text quoted above is a translation of a text in Arabic in a compilation on Bahai laws and commands (Ganjinih-yi-Hudud) compiled in Persian by Iranian scholar, Ishraq Khavari (1902-1972), third edition was in 1972.

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I've added the coloured areas.

Click to see a larger view.

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.
The highlighted words are: [red] “Liwaat, liwat, lewaat” and here the line reads: “The prohibitions and punishments for liwaat”
Then the next section inside quotation marks is what is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas:
”We shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys.” The word marked in grey is “ghelmaan” the word for boys which clearly means a form of sex slave because of the word “shame” whereas in other contexts the term can mean (male) servant or slave. More on the term ghulaam/ghelmaan (boy/s) in the Kitab-i-Aqdas is here

The next line states that the following is from a tablet by Baha’u’llah dated August 1, 1874 (in the text it is in the Islamic Lunar calendar, 1291)

The final line of text which begins with a quotation mark: Ye are forbidden to commit [green] zenaa’ (fornication), [blue] lewaat (sexual perversions) and [yellow] kheyaanat (infidelity). The rest of the text is on the next page (339).
Ishraq-Khavari does not source his text, but as he gives the date of the text, and he most likely had access to the complete text including the colophon at the end, where the scribe usually gives his name and the date of copying and other details about the text. These have not been noted in the compiliation here, but is very likely that the U.H.J. has access to this and so I would say, we can consider this to be authentically by Baha'u'llah.

Zenaa is to do with sex not being within marriage and liwaat is do with sexual acts considered perverted. An audience of the time would have interpreted “liwaat” to mean oral or anal sex or bestiality.

Baha’u’llah also refers to ‘liwaat’ in the Questions and Answers section of the Kitab-i-Aqas, and this is also quoted in Ganjinih-yi-Hudud.

Scan of a section of page 319 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.

Click to view this in a larger format

Scan of the bottom of page 338 of Ganjinih-yi-Hudud (The Treasury of Laws and Ordinances) compiled by Ishraq Khavari. I’ve added the coloured areas.

The question put to Baha’u’llah: Concerning the penalties for [green] zenaa’, [blue] lewaat, and [pink] saareq, [robbery] and the degrees thereof. Baha’u’llah’s response is that these are up to the [dark green] House of Justice to determine.

As you might have noted, there is no word Arabic word for Sihaqaq in either section and so the argument about lesbians above is completely false. These comments on lesbianism that existed in Baha’u’llah’s time might be of interest.

In Islam there are prescribed punishments (believed to be set by God and therefore fixed) for crimes such as adultery (stoning) and robbery (death). I haven’t found any clear prescribed punishment for liwat but we can be sure that it will be unpleasant.

What is of note here is that Baha’u’llah was stating specifically that in Bahai Law, these are not prescribed (set by God) but fall into an area of flexibility where they will be set by the House of Justice. It would up to the U.H.J. to determine what is specifically meant by ‘liwaat’ or perhaps the definition of perverted sexual practice is something that does change according to the age? These days no one would consider rape within marriage as acceptable yet at one time it was. Of course I am just speculating here.
I do think it is revolutionary that Baha’u’llah made a clear statement to break with the expectation of a religion with rules for prescribed punishments.

The next part of the page above is the same as part of the 1995 letter penned by the U.H.J.
“In a letter dated March 26,1950, written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Teachings, further explicates the Bahá’í attitude toward homosexuality. It should be noted that the Guardian’s interpretation of this subject is based on his infallible understanding of the Texts. It represents both a statement of moral principle and unerring guidance to Bahá’ís who are homosexuals. The letter states:

“No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

“To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”
The full 1995 U.H.J. letter is here

There is another paragraph in this letter which follows this as listed in the 1983 compilation (“Lights of Guidance”)

“God judges each soul on its own merits. The Guardian cannot tell you what the attitude of God would be towards a person who lives a good life in most ways, but not in this way. All he can tell you is that it is forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and that one so afflicted should struggle and struggle again to overcome it. We must be hopeful of God’s Mercy but not impose upon it.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950)

I am not sure if the Universal House of Justice today would state that a Letter Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi has the same or similar status as anything the Guardian penned himself in his role as authorized interpreter of Bahai Scripture (see why), but we have to assume that the U.H.J. still views homosexuality as something bad because while asking the Bahai community to work at removing prejudice against gays they write that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. Yes, you might ask yourself, when am I a practising heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual and when am I not, since orientation is not just about sex?

What the letter appears to state is to say that Bahai’s are not to treat their homosexual members with inequality but that these Bahais are not permitted to practice as homosexuals. Whether this means they are not allowed to be out of the closet or are not allowed to be married is not clear.

Here’s the letter from the Universal House of Justice, Oct 27, 2010:

“The purpose of the Faith of Baha’u’llah is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Baha’is are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.

At the same time, you are no doubt aware of the relevant teachings of the Faith that govern the personal conduct of Baha’is. The Baha’i Writings state that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other. Other passages from the Writings state that the practice of homosexuality is not permitted. The teachings of Baha’u’llah on personal morality are binding on Baha’is, who strive, as best they can, to live up to the high standards He has established.”
The full letter is here.

I agree that “Bahá’ís believe that Shoghi Effendi (shawg-khee ef-fen-dee), the great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, was “infallible” in His interpretations of the Law of Bahá’u’lláh.”
Shoghi Effendi (1897 -1957) was meticulous and highly proficient in Persian, Arabic and English. As Head of the Bahai Faith he was inundated with letters and questions and so to deal with this he assigned the task of responding to these to a secretary to write on his behalf.
In response to this question: Can you make a statement which would establish the authenticity of your letters written by Ruhi or Soheil with your P.C. [sic] attached. There are still some people who continue to feel that these letters are not authorized by you and only express the personal opinions of the above writers.”
this letter was sent on his behalf;
““Whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.””
(7 Dec 1930, cited in a letter from the UHJ 22 oct, 1996.)

However reading and approving these letters was not the same as giving them the same status as his own writing as this letter explains:

““The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to give to those communications he sends to individual believers is explained in the following statement written through his secretary to the National Assembly on November 16, 1932:

““As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bahá’ís, he is always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the Bahá’í News. Only letters with special significance should be published there.”
Letter Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the N.S.A. of the U.S.A.
Published in the US Bahai Newsletter, No. 71, February 1933, pp. 1-2

Shoghi Effendi needed to focus his time on his role as official interpreter as well as the work he did in setting up the Bahai administration. Would such a meticulous person, leave the responsibility of text with the status of Bahai Law to be penned by secretaries? Of course not. However I’m not saying that these letters have no status either, just that the Universal House of Justice is not bound to follow the texts of these letters as if they are Bahai Scripture.

The writer of the page above claimed that in the Bahai writings, adultery, fornicartion, liwat and sihaqaq “retard the progress of the soul” in the afterlife.

All I could find is this a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

“He was grieved to hear of some of the things you describe. It shows great spiritual immaturity on the part of some of the Bahá’ís and an astonishing lack of understanding and study of the teachings. To live up to our Faith’s moral teachings is a task far harder than to live up to those noble principles the Moral Re-Armament inculcates, fine and encompassing as they are! Every other word of Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings is a preachment on moral and ethical conduct; all else is the form, the chalice, into which the pure spirit must be poured; without the spirit and the action which must demonstrate it, it is a lifeless form.
He judges, from what you say, that the friends have not or at least many of them have not, been properly taught in the beginning. There is certainly no objection to stressing the “four standards” of the Moral Re-Armament — though any teaching of our precious Faith would go much more deeply into these subjects and add more to them. When we realize that Bahá’u’lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife — so grievous is it — and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects. You must not make the great mistake of judging our Faith by one community which obviously needs to study and obey the Bahá’í teachings. Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. Now that you have seen, and remedied, a great fault in your own life, now that you see more clearly what is lacking in your own community, there is nothing to prevent you from arising and showing such an example, such a love and spirit of service, as to enkindle the hearts of your fellow Bahá’ís.
He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bahá’ís who are anxious to do so, the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer, bring about a change.”

((From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
(Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, pp. 20-21)

Perhaps somewhere Baha’u’llah did write that adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife, but I couldn’t find anything. However that is a far cry from claiming that homosexuality is included as the writer claims.

Then the writer of the page above claims that it is a Bahai teaching to practice hypocrisy!
And from this he deduces that gay and lesbian Baha’is are only allowed to be in the Bahai community if they keep their orientation hidden. He also claims that these Bahais will lose their voting rights if they do not.

I have heard many stories of LGB Bahai’s being given a hard time by individuals, such as being told that they are spiritually diseased by those who claim some form of authority, but I’ve never heard of an L.S.A. actually removing someone’s voting rights because an individual identified as being gay or lesbian.

Steingass’s definition of munafiq (referred to as MOON-NAW-FEE-KOON at the top) is:

munafiq: A hypocrite, dissembler, atheist; a tale-bearer, an
informer; an enemy; atheistic, impious; hypocritical.

And Baha’u’llah hoped:

“that neither the defection of the infidels among Thy people, nor the clamor of the hypocrites (munafeqin) among Thy creatures, may avail to keep me back from Thee.” (Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 142)

And as quoted in my August blog, Baha’u’llah asks us to
“Be thou of the people of hell-fire, but be not a hypocrite.”

I did a quick search to see what the Bahais of Utah website really was but came up with lots of links to disparate places. I’d suggest that if the Bahais of Utah disagree with any of the material presented on the bahaisofutah.angelfire.com They should buy the domain name bahaisofutah.com which is as of this date available and present who they really are or use the url as a portal if making a website is too much work. I’m am a webdesigner so they can contact me for a cheap deal 🙂

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Sympathy for gay Bahais is not good enough

June 20, 2012
Detail of a cartoon by Mike Luckovich, click to see the whole cartoon.

Click to view the whole cartoon.

A sympathetic Bahai wrote:
I suppose there is no easy way to reconcile your experience with anything other than what you term homophobic.
I am wondering if ANY Baha’i, short of denouncing the mainstream “official” interpretation, will be able to be seen otherwise – no matter how loving, compassionate, etc. – since the very teachings are what you object to.

It is not a Bahai Teaching to discriminate against LGBT Bahais.

I interpret a 2010 letter from the Universal House of Justice as superceding previous statements from the UHJ.

It states: “…With respect to your question concerning the position Baha’is are to take regarding homosexuality and civil rights, we have been asked to convey the following. The purpose of the Faith of Baha’u’llah is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Baha’is are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.” Letter from the Universal House of Justice, 27 October 2010.

(the Full letter is here)

The next part of the letter states that “marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are restricted to a couple who are married to each other.”

Then the letter ends with:
“In working for social justice, Baha’is must inevitably distinguish between those dimensions of public issues that are in keeping with the Baha’i Teachings, which they can actively support, and those that are not, which they would neither promote nor necessarily oppose. In connection with issues of concern to homosexuals, the former would be freedom from discrimination and the latter the opportunity for civil marriage. Such distinctions are unavoidable when addressing any social issue. For example, Baha’is actively work for the establishment of world peace but, in the process, do not engage in partisan political activities directed against particular governments.”

So a Bahai could stand up for the rights of a gay couple by arguing that the LSA take a neutral stance, if there was a situation of a married gay wishing to join. Individual Bahais could and most likely will have diverse views on this. It is best if the community would discuss this, but the bottom line, as I understand the guidance from the UHJ, should be that the actions of the community will aim toward a neutral position, or at least a position that does not go against the Bahai Teachings relative to “the organic unity of the entire human race”. (Letter from the UHJ to an individual, 27 October 2010)

This Bahai also wrote: Of course the actions of Baha’is are an issue too, compounding the problem, but, as you say, anything short of ‘we love you, and you and your partner, spouse are welcome here’ will still be considered ‘homophobic.’

My response to the above is: “Of course it is homophobic! If an African American spouse wasn’t welcomed at a Bahai event or in the community because of their skin colour that would be called racism.

So my suggestion is that Bahais need to say that it is rude, and show that such rudeness could be interpreted as homophobic, if the next time a gay is present, their partner is ignored, or their identity as being gay is treated as if this is inappropriate or problematic. These things need to be discussed so Bahais can learn to undo the current trend or tendency which is that Bahais assume gays cannot be visible or proud or out of the closet. How can we celebrate unity in diversity unless we value all, equally.

If someone feels sorry for you, then this implies that you are lesser, worse off, afflicted. And if a person feels sorry for another because they are gay? Well, there’s no other word for it but “homophobia”–the view that being gay is a form of affliction (sometimes referred to as “a test”). So first Bahais have to face the fact that treating a gay person, Bahai or not, differently is discrimination, and then a community has to show by deeds that it is working on removing this discrimination.

Accepting gay couples without discrimination is the tip of the iceberg. If a Bahai community works at this, then the prejudice will ease. Bahais need to discuss these things in order to change the status quo. A turning point would be for Bahais to deepen on what is actual Bahai Scripture and what is not. Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi are used adamantly to denounce gays, but they are ignored when the topic is on the wrongs of birth control.

I realise that for many Bahais it is too much of a leap to think that the idea, ‘being gay is equal to being diseased’ is not based on anything authored by Baha’u’llah, Abdul-Bahai or Shoghi Effendi. (It isn’t, in fact.) So instead I would say focus on the issue of homophobia just as Bahai communities have worked hard and admirably on racism. Work at demonstrating in tangible ways that we accept homosexuality as part of God’s creation.

From Baha’u’llah: “I loved thy creation, hence I created thee.” (There are more examples celebrating human nature in holistic terms here)

So work at making your own Bahai community a place where, if a Bahai says: So it is living openly with a partner and wanting to be an ‘active’ Baha’i that causes the problem,” you or others will see that the real problem is that the community doesn’t “accept” an active Bahai who has a same-sex partner. Removal of voting rights should only be applied if it is an issue of immorality, and since the 2010 UHJ letter states that Bahai communities should remain neutral, I’d say it would make sense for the LSA to follow the law of the state on this, and when in doubt to show tolerance, so Bahai law is applied as a “choice wine” and not like a hammer for exclusion. If the idea of accepting gay Bahais who are married on equal terms with other married couples upsets a Bahai community, or even just one individual in the community, then that is where the root of the problem lies. Work on that. The rest will work itself out once discrimination against homosexuality is treated as a breach of the Bahai principles of equality and justice.

If a Bahai states This is an impass I cannot see my way around,” then I think that they just don’t care. They don’t care enough to stick their neck out. They don’t care enough about the Bahai Teachings (my apologies if this sounds harsh) because the Bahai Teachings are not homophobic. If it helps, pass on any argument that you see as an “impass” and I’ll show you from the Writings that it isn’t. My blog is an attempt at showing that it is not impossible for a Bahai community to be welcoming to gays, and I know of one out of the closet married gay Bahai whose community accepts him as he is.

Start with believing it is possible for a Bahai community to treat its gay members on equal terms, and take the steps towards making your Bahai community welcoming for people of all persuasions. Start with bringing this up as a topic at feast, or make it a topic for a deepening, so Bahais have time and space to look at the issues. If that is too hard, then work on yourself and deepen in the Bahai Scripture (if that is the issue for you) or start seeing homosexuality as an aspect of diversity and not as an imperfection. Trust me, many gays have contributed to society.

Mark Tobey in 1971. Image is from the Bahai-library.org

Mark Tobey in 1971.
Image is from the Bahai-library.org

Just think: it is Alan Turing‘s 100th birthday next week (the inventor of the Turing machine a precursor to the computer among other inventions. In 2009 the British government issued a formal apology for persecuting him for being a homosexual). What if he had never lived?

And then we have the painter Mark Tobey, a gay Bahai who was clearly welcomed in his community, or else he would not have stayed and he would have kept his sexuality and partner private. He didn’t, which indicates what a special community he was part of. However Mark Tobey is an exception. I wonder if Daniel Orey’s voting rights would be returned to him and if the U.S. Bahai community would ever apologize for the heartache caused by informing him that he would have to divorce in order to participate in Bahai feasts. And sadly I know of many more examples, but Daniel is one of the few willing to let the world see how he has been discriminated against (his voting rights were removed in 2009, a year after he married his partner.
I state these things because if Bahais do not hear of this, they think there is no discrimination. If they do not see any gays in their community they might think, gays are not interested in Baha’u’llah’s Teachings. Instead, the reality is that gays are not welcome! Sympathy is not good enough. We need to work at changing the attitude that there is something wrong with being gay. We need to actively be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.”
“Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”
(Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words)