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On May 17 around the globe people will observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. 

The date was chosen to coincide with the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases.  It is a day when we acknowledge the violence and discrimination that the LGBTQ2+ community has faced and continues to face here in Canada and around the world. The day is meant to draw the attention of leaders, the media, large companies, political leaders, institutions, and communities to the challenges people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics face each day.

Each year there are hundreds of hate crimes reported that are related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. In 2019, that number was in the hundreds in Canada and it is assumed that this was extremely under-reported in relation to the actual number. Our Federal Government, in 2019, also undertook a study on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and two-spirited people and discovered many health inequities related to discrimination and stigmatization. The suicide rate among LGBTQ2+ youth is about twice that of their heterosexual and cisgender peers.

These provide just one snapshot of the situation but I find it quite disturbing. The world is slanted away from support, compassion and justice for the LGBTBQ2+ community. 

The Church must learn to be a place that charts a different path. We must work to be welcoming and compassionate, and learn to listen to the experiences of those in LGBTBQ2+ community.

I encourage all of us, as the Diocese of New Westminster, to observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17. We must carry that forward to all days so that we stand against violence, discrimination, hatred and lack of concern. Our calling as Christians is toward love and living out the grace of God.  May that be so in how we act in this world and how we see one another, on May 17 and always. 

Please download and share a .PDF copy Bishop Stephens' Statement