Soulforce Participates in Creation of the Global Interfaith Network

The Global Interfaith Network Steering Committee at Its First Meeting in South Africa.

The Global Interfaith Network Steering Committee at Its First Meeting in South Africa.

Soulforce Deputy Director Haven Herrin first participated in the work of this coalition at the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) World Conference last December in Stockholm. Haven has been an ILGA board member for 5 years, and this was the very first pre-conference for people doing religious work at an ILGA event. From that incredible first meeting, a forward-thinking coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex activists was born to explore a fresh vision of our movement. (LGBTI is the international formulation of the acronym describing the worldwide community people of sexual and gender diversity).

First, our impetus is to address the mounting violence spurred on by U.S.-bred fundamentalism in the Global South. Second, the Global Interfaith Network charges itself with the task of bringing faith-convicted voices more firmly into the human rights narrative. Third, we are going to provide the first-ever clearinghouse for a truly interfaith perspective on religious bigotry, LGBTI issues, and best practices on creating reform.

We say “we” because Soulforce is a member of the Steering Committee that is shepherding this process toward the creation of an online community, our next global conference, and lifting up the voices of LGBTI activists in places where religio-political voices hold the mic.

The Global Interfaith Network’s statement of purpose: “In a time when Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities all over the world are increasingly organizing themselves, demanding the space to exist, to meet and to find protection under the law, the forces against these rights are being mobilized. …These forces claim to justify their fight with religious rhetoric, cultural claims and customary laws; arguing that sexual and gender diversity are foreign and evil imports. Dealing with these issues often brings controversy, condemnation, exclusion, internalized transphobia and homophobia, and can result in violence and hate crimes, often justified by religious and cultural beliefs.”

This network is committed to building solidarity, promoting dialogue, respecting and affirming diversity among persons of faith regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity to achieve common goals of equality, spirituality and justice.

“The unique thing about GIN’s work is the centralization of leaders from the Global South. I think the whole world is hungry for new and better models of international partnership. I know that Soulforce comes to this work not out of charity but a recognition of how fundamentalism, economics, and racial politics actually implicate us, a U.S.-based organization, in the pursuit of international solidarity,” says Steering Committee member Haven Herrin.

For more information about this new network and the 2014 ILGA Conference, contact gin.sogi@gmail.com.