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Shared Statement by Religious Leaders in The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway (STL) and Leaders from LGBTI Organisations and LGBTI People of Faith. 

Shared Statement by Religious Leaders in The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway (STL) and Leaders from LGBTI Organisations and LGBTI People of Faith. 

Throughout the past year, representatives from Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway have met with representatives from LGBT+ Organisations. We have spent four days together and created a safe space for dialogue. Our conversations were shaped by goodwill and sincere openness to each other´s perspectives. We have listened to each other´s stories and shared our hopes and our fears. 

Together, we have reached a wider understanding of each other and acquire knowledge about research on sex, gender and sexuality. The dialogue has found its natural path, without pre-emptive demands to achieve results getting in the way of the process. In this way, we have got to know each other, and the images we held of each other have become more nuanced. We have dealt with difficult topics. This demands respect and humility, which everyone involved has displayed in great measure.  

We acknowledge that public debates, not least when they happen in social media, lack these nuances. These debates are often scarred by a lack of ability to enter into other people’s ways of understanding, their needs and their challenges. 

We hope to change this. Some of the challenges that the LGBTI community and religious communities face are similar. Both faith communities and the LGBTI community have been targets of terror attacks in Norway. 

Together, we have decided to lay more emphasis on what we agree about, and to listen to each other´s lived experiences. This does not mean that religious traditions suddenly change their theology and their views on, for instance, marriage. Nor does it mean that queer people shall stop challenging religious teachings and practices that they find problematic. There shall be space for discussion and disagreement, but there is no reason for these disagreements to dominate to the extent that they make fellowship and respect impossible. 

We wish to stand up for each other when some of us are subject to attacks. It is especially powerful when we defend someone within our own religion, and it is important that we take responsibility and show solidarity when such attacks happen. 

This is not only true in the public sphere, but also within our faith communities and organisations. Not least, this requires us to never let dehumanizing speech pass unsanctioned. We do not need to agree on everything, we live in a community of disagreement. However, the way we speak about each other is of great importance. 

Even before the terror attack of the 25th of July 2022, STL had decided to place LGBTI issues on the agenda. The terror attack made it clear that this was an urgent issue. Our dialogue over the past year is groundbreaking and ploughing new soil. As this was unknown uncharted territory, we were all uncertain about where this would lead. We all agree that this has been an important and necessary conversation, which provides a solid foundation to build upon.  

We are all grateful to have had these conversations. Through this dialogue, we have strengthened our belief that we can work together for a society where everyone can be both safe and treated with respect and decency. 

Sundvollen, 24th August 2023 

Norway 

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