Nearly half of young LGBT people who are left homeless after coming out are from religious backgrounds, according to new research by the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT).
The charity, which supports young people who are at risk of homelessness, said that three in four LGBT people are rejected by their families, 45% coming from a faith background.
According to the Trust’s own research, of those figures, the majority of those rejected are from Muslim and Christian families.
The Naz and Matt Foundation was set up following the loss of Matt’s fiancé, Naz, who took his own life two days after his deeply religious family confronted him about his sexuality.
Established in 2014, the foundation exists to empower and support LGBT individuals, their friends, and their family to work toward resolving challenges linked to sexuality or gender identify, particularly where religion is a significant factor.
Naz’s family told him to “seek a cure” after coming out as gay, considering homosexuality a disease that required medical attention.
In 2018, the government promised to take steps to get rid of so called ‘gay-cure’ therapies, with evidence revealing it’s harmful and ineffective.
Strict interpretations of religious texts, from the Bible to the Koran, have been used to argue that being LGBT is a sin.
Matt Mahmood-Ogston, Naz’s fiancé and founder of the foundation, said that if Naz’s family ever found out that we’re together, they’d be “praying on the doorstep” until we break apart.
Matt recalled how Naz would face constant pressures from his family to get married, and when he revealed the truth during a confrontation at home, he was told to get therapy.
“They were basically saying the thing that he cherished the most – his identity, the most truthful thing about him – had to be got rid of for him to be accepted,” Matt said.
Through his work – The Naz and Matt Foundation – he wants to help others in a similar position change their families’ minds.
Last month during a visit to the AKT in London, the Duke of Cambridge said that he would “fully support” his children if they were to come out as gay.
“Anyone that may have been on the fence or indifferent, to see the future king say that, would change a lot of minds,” said Leigh Fontaine, services manager at AKT.
To 24-year-old Sameer Poselay, the same initial fears played out, with the idea of telling his family about his sexuality frightening him.
He knew he was gay at age eight, but with parents of Indian, Sunni Muslim heritage, he says there was a level of expectation for him to bring his parents a daughter-in-law one day.
But one night, aged 20, he decided to tell his dad and relieve himself of the burden that had been depressing him for so long, anticipating being kicked out.
After a delayed reaction, his dad gave him the reassurance that he needed.
Crucially to Sameer, his entire family don’t just accept him – they fully accept homosexuality.
“I’m sure some would say I’m not a proper Muslim, but it’s simple,” said Lak, Sameer’s dad.
“You’re born a Muslim and you’re born gay, so you are both.”