On 30 September 2021, at the Devon Valley Hotel in Stellenbosch, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries Launch The Bible and “Homosexuality”: A Toolkit.
Why The Bible and “Homosexuality” toolkit?
On the African continent, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+) people’s visibility contests heteronormative binaries that construct life as an oppressive reality. LGBTIQ+ visibility is continuously counteracted by homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Actors that counter LGBTIQ+ visibility are often family, religion, and culture. Through complex forms of hostility, family, religion, and culture foster stigma and discrimination that spills into the larger society (health, education, sports etc.) that becomes life-denying for LGBTIQ+ people.
The multiple and complex realities that deny the LGBTIQ+ community life are often based on literal readings and uncontested interpretations of Biblical texts, supported by the unquestioning allegiance and beliefs from “African tradition and culture”. Unfortunately, the weaving of literal readings of Biblical texts and culture often culminates into toxic and violent realities for LGBTIQ+ people.
As part of IAM’s ongoing process of decoloniality, panellists Sizwe Sithole a PhD student and transactivist at UKZN, Professor Charlene van der Walt of Gender, Religion and Health Programme and Deputy Director of the Ujamaa Centre at UKZN, and Hanzline R. Davids, Faith Partnerships Coordinator at IAM stood amongst guests to showcase that this toolkit is by the people for the people. Rev Michelle Boonzaaier, IAM Programs Manager, facilitated the panel, asking for input from the gathered participants, reminding them that this conversation is just the first round of co-creation and editing the new toolkit.
The toolkit builds loosely on the 2008 publication of the same name, but broadens the work into an active tool, rather than a static reading text on sexuality, gender and faith. Over the coming months and years, it will be used in faith and civil society communities and be revised and recalibrated according to feedback from users. IAM intends this toolkit to be a living, breathing document that guides users through a process, while leaving plenty of space for thought and reflection.
The Bible and “Homosexuality”: A Toolkit furthermore, seeks to provide an accompanying process for LGBTIQ+ people, activists, faith leaders, family, and civil and faith communities, using a dialogue approach to move away from literal readings of the Bible. The toolkit works towards a contextual and communal reading of the Bible that is life-affirming towards LGBTIQ+ people.
Download your copy of the toolkit here.