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Discussion > 1999 Letters from the UHJ concerning Gay Couples and Polygamists

These 2 letters came by way of a friend last night.


Dear Baha’i Friend,

Your email messages of 20 October 1998 and 16 February 1999 have been received at the Baha’i World center. In your message of 20 October, you cite two quotations written on behalf of the Guardian giving guidance on how newly enrolled believers whose previous moral behavior did not accord with the Teachings should be gradually nurtured into bringing their conduct into conformity with the faith’s high standards. You ask whether the same principle applies in two separate cases, polygamists becoming Baha’is , and homosexual couples wherein one or both individuals accept the Faith.

Your understanding is correct that should a polygamist become a Baha’i, he would not be required to divorce or separate from any of his spouses; however, he would not be able to enter into a new marriage while still being married to another spouse.

With regard to the second case, in general, when a person who wishes to join the Faith is known to have a problem such as drinking, homosexuality, drug abuse, adultery, etc., he or she should be told in a patient and loving way of the Baha’i teachings on these matters. In particular, if persons involved in homosexual relationships express an interest in the faith, they should not be instructed by Baha’i institutions to separate si that they may enroll in the Baha’i community, for this action by any institution may conflict with civil law. The Baha’i position should be patiently explained to such persons, who should also be given to understand that although in their hearts they may accept baha’u’llah, they cannot join the Baha’i community in the current condition of their relationship. They will then be free to draw their own conclusions and act accordingly. Within this context, the question you pose about the possibility of the removal of administrative rights should, therefore, not arise.

With loving Baha’i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat


13 April 1999

Dear Baha’i Friend,

In your email dated 14 March 1999, you ask whether a homosexual who is in a committed same sex relationship, or who is involved in a same sex marriage, may be permitted to stay in such a relationship upon becoming a Baha’i. The answer, as indicated in our previous letter to you of 5 March 1999, is that such persons cannot be accepted as members of the Baha’i community while maintaining such a relationship. However, if individuals involved in a homosexual relationship have a desire to become Baha’is, they should be patiently and lovingly informed of the position of the Faith on homosexuality, but they should not be instructed by Baha’i teachers or by Baha’i institutions to separate in order to become Baha’is; rather, they should be left free to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to change their way of life and apply for Baha’i membership. In other words: armed with knowledge of the Baha’i position as explained to them, they can exercise their own judgment as to what to chose to do. This is the meaning of our previous statement that, “They will be free to draw their own conclusions and act accordingly.”

It is only proper that the response of the Baha’is to such persons should be as described here: on the one hand, the law of the Faith must be upheld; on the other, our community must be open to those who choose to abide by that law. By affirming through word and deed their determination to follow the way of Baha’u’llah, they must unhesitatingly be accorded the privileges of Baha’i membership. The same approach applies with regard to those persons who wish to join the Faith but are known to have a problem with drinking, drug abuse, adultery, etc.

We trust that this explanation clarifies the questions with which you are concerned.

With loving Baha’i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat
August 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean
OK, let me see if I understand this...

If I were say a Muslim or a Mormon married to a 1/2 dozen women, that is OK and I can become a Baha'i, as long as I do not add another member to my brood. I will guess as well if I, along with a few guys were married to a woman it would be OK - The Baha'i Faith recognizing gender equity and all. And since this is common in the Himalayas...

But none of us monogamous, boring, blissfully married gay or lesbian couples can join or remain the Faith...

Did I get it right?
August 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDCO
Right, because our religion comes from a culture where polygamy was historically popular , and homosexual monogamy was never heard of...... this is where everything gets super dicey. These letters need to be out there for people to see how screwed up things are.
August 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean
The worst part of all this is the lumping of homosexuality in with other "problems". This is what they want folks. Make sure the young and vulnerable in the community continue to believe that they have a problem to overcome. Once we realize we don't and the problem is THEM, then they kindly open the door and ask us to leave. And I have to respect some people who come here and tell me that I am being too harsh on the Bahai administration?! You have seen nothing yet!
August 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeyam
I swear every time I see "with LOVING Bahai greeting" it makes my blood boil. grrrr....
August 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeyam
There are Bahais who are homosexuals (with partners) who dont lose their voting rights. dont ask dont tell thats all.
August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweetboy
It is just horrable...It's like almost 10% of the human family are not welcome by God...
August 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNino