Black churches urged to denounce anti-LGBTQ laws, violence against Black trans women  

Church leaders are being asked to show support for the LGBTQ community "in your pews" as anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeps the nation.

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Religious leaders and advocates are being asked to show support for the LGBTQ community as anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeps the nation. 

“This is something that the church, I think, often is too reticent to do — to speak out in support of legislation that addresses historical discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” Rev. Cedric A. Harmon told NBC News.

The Progress Pride flag hangs above the door at Stingray Botanicals. The widely known rainbow is a symbol for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and was amended with the chevron to be more inclusive of people of color (black and brown stripes) and trans people (white, pink and blue stripes). (Photo: Dana Sparks/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Harmon, executive director of Black church organization Many Voices, identifies as same-gender-loving and has worked with religious leaders to advance LGBTQ rights. “So this is the perfect moment,” he says, “to lift the voice of Black religious communities and Black religious leaders to say, ‘When we talk about LGBTQ concerns and issues, we’re talking about members of our own community.’”

Tuesday’s NBC News story notes that more than 70% of Black LGBTQ adults describe themselves as religious. More than 30% call themselves highly religious, and nearly 40% say they are moderately religious, per a 2020 report from the Williams Institute, a sexual orientation and gender identity research program at UCLA School of Law.

New legislation targeting America’s LGBTQ citizenry has been sweeping the nation. NBC News reported in late March that more than 230 bills that would limit the rights of the community have been proposed this year. 

“This is a moment for church members who may have a trans member of their family to actually speak out about their love and concern for that member and bring that to their pastor or religious leader,” Harmon maintained. 

A virtual panel convened last week, in which Harmon participated, noted the history of violence against Black transgender people — particularly women. The Human Rights Campaign, which tracks anti-trans violence, contends that there have been at least six transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.

“There’s still an inordinate amount of shame and stigma within the Black community as it relates to LGBTQ-identified folks,” Harmon told NBC News in a phone interview, adding that he reminds religious leaders: “We’re not talking about issues. We’re talking about people, and we’re talking about people that actually sit in your pews.”

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