Update on NUSLGBT13 and Religion

I reckoned the dozens of people who read my previous post on LGBTQ People and Relgion might want to know how things went at conference.

So, to the best of my recollection, the motion which contained the text of the original motion *and* Emma’s amendment and another amendment  passed with all its parts intact. Correction: with CR1 removed.

What was strange was that students who had been abused in religious contexts said that conference resolves 1 and conference resolves 5 were actions that would make them and people like them feel unsafe and asked for those parts to be removed but conference voted to keep them anyway.

Conference resolves 1 was “To condemn anti-religious sentiments found within LGBT communities and the LGBT rights movement”. The argument to remove this was that condemning “sentiments” seems an awful lot like condemning the people who feel that way or at the very least suggesting that the way they are feeling is wrong. There are many reasons, some of them very understandable to have and express negative feelings toward religion or religions, the argument went, and this is totally different from having / expressing negative feelings about a person because of their religion. Condemning peoples feelings seems t=like telling them how they should feel and is erasing of the experiences of people who have very understandable reasons to feel negatively toward religion – it’s simply incompatible with affirming in Conference Further Believes 8 “Rejection of any and all religious practice is a legitimate response to abuse experienced in that context”
The argument for keeping Conference Resolves 1 was that condemning sentiments was not the same as condemning people who have those sentiments, that whilst it may be very understandable why someone might feel that way those sentiments are still harmful and they should be encouraged to change how they feel about religion and that it is necessary to condemn these sentiments in order to properly work with students of faith and faith-based organisations.

Conference voted to keep Conference Resolves 1. CORRECTION: Conference voted to remove Conference resolves 1.

Conference Resolves 5 states “To commend and promote religious organisations supportive of their LGBT members.”

The argument to remove this was from Emma. She argued that there was no point commending groups for doing the “pastoral bare minimum” of supporting their members – all religious groups should be doing this anyway or they’re failing people they committed to supporting and nurturing. She further argued that “promoting” religious groups is inherently unsafe for those who’ve needed to leave religion because of abuse.
The argument to keep Conference Resolves 5 I couldn’t hear very well but seemed to be essentially “if we don’t promote LGBT-friendly religious groups, how will people find them?” and that commending groups for being inclusive was somehow essential to working together with people of faith.
Conference voted to keep Conference Resolves 5.

So now the NUS LGBT Campaign has active policy to be mindful of the needs of survivors of faith-based abuse and in the same motion active policy to condemn any anti-religious sentiments those students may have and to commend and promote religious organisations that abused students may struggle to see as any different to those who hurt them. Right.

Comments very welcome from people who heard / remember the debate better than I did. I have further thoughts about these arguments and about what the NUS LGBT campaign as a whole and your local LGBTQ group or faith group can do to follow the best possible understanding of this policy but those thoughts can wait.

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