Gay people raised in religious households are 12 times more likely to experience mental health problems including depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
In a new study linking church attitudes toward same-sex relationships, the overarching influence of the church is having a negative influence on LGBTI people.
Oasis Foundation, a LGBTI-inclusive Christian charitable trust, has says it is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Christian leaders are responsible for fueling negative messages about homosexuality in society, the media and in politics.
The research is being released in part to respond to the report from the House of Bishops which restated the Church of England’s opposition to same-sex marriage and will be discussed at the General Synod meeting next week.
A previous large study of 27,000 LGB people concluded ‘sexual minorities were two to three times more likely to report having a longstanding psychological or emotional problem than their heterosexual counterparts with the figure rising to almost 13% in other surveys.
And with this research, it suggests if people are raised under a denomination of Christianity that opposes homosexuality, that statistic is a lot higher.
Other research found in a randomly selection of 100 news articles about same-sex marriage in the UK, 91% of the negative comments were from a Christian leader, religious figure or politician.
The report states mental health problems arise after LGB suffer ‘direct homophobia and discrimination’, either through bullying or inferior treatment because of their sexuality.
They may also feel like a ‘second class citizen’ because of both explicit and implicit references from families and community leaders.
Rev Steve Chalke, Founder of Oasis, said: ‘It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people and leaves countless numbers of them living lives of forced secrecy and dishonesty.
‘Tragically, it is also common knowledge that the resultant anguish and distress often leads to spiritual, mental and physical harm, and in the worst of cases to people making the desperate decision to take their own life.
‘Too often however, these powerful testimonies are dismissed by those that don’t want to hear them – those who are not yet ready to face up to the scale of the damage that we collectively have unintentionally caused. My hope is that this report is the beginning of a sea change to this approach.’