The Bahá’í Faith teaches that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is within marriage, and marriage is defined as exclusively between one man and one woman. Bahá’ís stress the importance of absolute chastity, which for an unmarried person includes abstinence from sexual activity, and focus on personal restraint.
While in authoritative teachings homosexuality is described as a condition which an individual should control and overcome, Bahá’ís are left to apply the teachings at their own discretion, and are discouraged from singling out homosexuality over other transgressions, such as the consumption of alcohol, or heterosexual promiscuity. Membership in the Bahá’í community is therefore open to lesbian and gay adherents, who are to be "advised and sympathized with".
 Treatment of homosexuals
Bahá’ís are taught not to treat homosexuals as condemned outcasts, and are told not to apply the Bahá’í teachings to people who have not accepted Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá’í writings teach people to treat everyone, including homosexuals, with love, respect, and dignity.
Individuals who are openly homosexual are not prevented from enrolling in the Bahá’í Faith or in joining in community life. This acceptance is not an endorsement of personal conduct, rather it is a recognition that becoming a Bahá’í is not conditional on their complete and strict compliance with all Bahá’í standards and laws. Homosexuality is seen as one of many tests and difficulties every individual must face, which can be discussed openly and sympathized with.
Homosexual Bahá’ís have been reprimanded for flagrant actions that bring the community into disrepute. A National Spiritual Assembly may remove a believer's administrative rights when the believer's actions damage the reputation of the Bahá’í Faith. This sanction has been applied to flagrant homosexuality, as well as public consumption of alcohol, heterosexual promiscuity, and other immorality or behaviors that severely undermine the reputation of the faith. However this consequence is meant only to be applied in cases of "public scandal", or "very flagrant cases".  As a general rule, the Spiritual Assemblies do not get involved in the private lives of believers, unless their actions are considered to be causing some harm to the community.
The Bahá’í Faith has received some criticism from those who consider homosexual sex morally acceptable. The Bahá’í administration has reminded followers of the religion not to single out homosexuality over other transgressions of the religious code and to be very tolerant of what is perceived to be immoral behaviour.
 Overcoming homosexuality
Shoghi Effendi, the appointed head of the religion from 1921 to 1957, taught that "through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap." Anyone who is not able to have a heterosexual marriage is encouraged to remain celibate, as would any person who does not marry and is a Bahá’í.
The concept of homosexuality as a changeable condition or as a disease in need of a cure has been largely dismissed recently by mental health professionals. However, the Universal House of Justice, the elected governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, has stated that "the Faith does not recognize homosexuality as a 'natural' or permanent phenomenon." Although it has approved of and encouraged Shoghi Effendi's idea of possible medical treatment, the response of the Universal House of Justice to individuals has been focused less on seeking medical or scientific help, but to divert thoughts into spiritual channels and the nature, inner life, and growth of man.
The Universal House of Justice responds to recent research that claims that homosexuality is innate and not changeable by asserting that homosexuality is one of
- "many problems, both physical and psychological. Some are the result of the individual’s own behaviour, some are caused by the circumstances in which he grew up, some are congenital... homosexuality is an abnormality, is a great problem for the individual so afflicted, and... he or she should strive to overcome it."
They also argue that statistics may be distorted due to underreporting, that other genetic predispositions to undesirable behaviors exist, and that other types of bias may exist in the present-day research.
 Basis from texts
In one passage of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh writes "we shrink, for very shame, from treating the subject of boys." (gr. 107) Some debate has occurred as to the meaning of the word "boys". The Arabic term "Ghilmán" is the plural form of the term "Ghúlám" which according to the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic is defined as: boy; youth, lad; slave; servant; waiter. The practice of pederasty, or erotic relations between adult males and adolescent boys, was not uncommon during the time of Bahá’u’lláh in the Islamic world, and in some cases was socially acceptable. Bahá’u’lláh condemned such relations, and Shoghi Effendi, the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í writings, clearly forbade all homosexual acts, a position upheld by the Universal House of Justice.
In other verses, sodomy is clearly forbidden but is not distinguished as being only homosexual sodomy. Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice later made more direct statements on homosexuality, in one case Shoghi Effendi said: "No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong."
 Letters from National Spiritual Assemblies
 From the United Kingdom, 1996
The National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom distributed a statement prepared for a London, UK, education group about the teaching about homosexuality within the school system. The Assembly stated that "the statement does not claim to be exhaustive, but it can be used with wisdom as part of a response to questions." Some excerpts from their statement are:
- "...the sexual impulse is a God-given one... The appropriate circumstance for this is within marriage, the legally, socially, and spiritually sanctioned union of two adults of the opposite sex. Other expressions are neither valid nor to be encouraged."
- "This is taught by the world's great religions, and is part of the basis of a stable and civilized society."
- "The moral and sexual education of children cannot be taken separately, and must be based upon heterosexuality, fidelity, and the family unit."
- "...the sexual practice of homosexuality is no more an acceptable activity than is heterosexual activity outside marriage."
- "We also abhor the introduction of loaded words such as 'homophobia' and 'heterosexism' to try to convey the idea that rejection of homosexuality is as prejudiced and discriminatory as racism, sexism, and other biases and intolerances..."
- ↑ "Bahá’í law restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married."
- (Letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual; Lights of Guidance, pp. 365, #1225) 
- ↑ "...according to the Bahá’í Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse."
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual; Lights of Guidance, pp. 364, #1220) 
- ↑ "...it is clear from the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled or overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires."
- (Letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 12 January 1973; Lights of Guidance, p. 366, #1222) 
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature."
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, 26 March, 1950; cited in Lights of Guidance, p. 365, #1223) 
- ↑ "They (homosexuals) should be treated just like any other people seeking admittance to the Faith, and be accepted on the same basis. Our teachings, as outlined in “The Advent of Divine Justice” on the subject of living a chaste life, should be emphasized to them just as to every other applicant, but certainly no ruling whatsoever should be laid down in this matter. The Bahá’ís have certainly not yet reached that stage of moral perfection where they are in a position to too harshly scrutinize the private lives of other souls, and each individual should be accepted on the basis of his faith, and sincere willingness to try to live up to the Divine standards"
- (Compiled by the Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 3) 
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with."
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, 21 May 1954; Lights of Guidance, p. 365, #1221) 
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 "As for the responsibility of Assemblies and of individual Bahá’ís, certainly all are called upon to be understanding, supportive and helpful to any individual who carries the burden of homosexuality."
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 7) 
- ↑ "When an individual becomes a Bahá’í, he or she accepts the claim of Bahá’u’lláh to be the Manifestation of God bringing a divinely-inspired message from God for the benefit of mankind. Implicit in the acceptance of this claim is the commitment of the believer to embark on the lifelong process of endeavouring to implement the teachings on personal conduct. Through sincere and sustained effort, energized by faith in the validity of the Divine Message, and combined with patience with oneself and the loving support of the Bahá’í community, individuals are able to effect a change in their behaviour; as a consequence of this effort they partake of spiritual benefits which liberate them and which bestow a true happiness beyond description. As you know, Bahá’u’lláh has clearly forbidden the expression of sexual love between individuals of the same sex. However, the doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of God, irrespective of their present circumstance; this invitation applies to homosexuals as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Bahá’í teachings. Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all believers will make a sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their conduct which are not in conformity with Divine Law.
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 11) 
- ↑ "This law is no reason for Bahá’ís to consider homosexuals as outcasts. If they are not Bahá’ís there is also no reason to expect them to obey the Bahá’í law in this respect any more than we would expect a non-Bahá’í to abstain from drinking alcohol."
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 11) 
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 "The question of how to deal with homosexuals is a very difficult one. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bahá’í Faith by Bahá’u’lláh; so, for that matter, is immorality and adultery. If one is going to start imposing heavy sanctions on people who are the victims of this abnormality, however repulsive it may be to others, then it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá’ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá’u’lláh. Obviously at the present time this would create an impossible and ridiculous situation. He feels, therefore, that, through loving advice, through repeated warnings, any friends who are flagrantly immoral should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained. If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights. However, he does not advise this course of action and feels that it should only be resorted to in very flagrant cases."
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, 20 August 1955; Lights of Guidance, pp. 368-369, #1230) 
- ↑ "Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly homosexual – although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people’s moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. The person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Bahá’u’lláh, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors, and make every effort to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away. The Guardian does not think, however, that a Bahá’í body should take it upon itself to denounce him to the Authorities unless his conduct borders on insanity."
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, 20 June 1953; Lights of Guidance, p. 52, #185)
- ↑ "Homosexuality is highly condemned and often a great trial and cause of suffering to a person, as a Bahá’í. Any individual so afflicted must, through prayer, and any other means, seek to overcome this handicap. But, unless the actions of such individuals are flagrantly immoral, it cannot be a pretext for depriving them of their voting rights.
- (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, 6 October 1956)
- ↑ "Assemblies, of course, must exercise care not to pry into the private lives of the believers to ensure that they are behaving properly…."
- (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 2 December 1980)
- ↑ (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, "Questions and Answers", p. 121)
- ↑ "While recognizing the divine origin and force of the sex impulse in man, religion teaches that it must be controlled, and Bahá’u’lláh's law confines its expression to the marriage relationship. The unmarried homosexual is therefore in the same position as anyone else who does not marry. The Law of God requires them to practice chastity."
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 5) 
- ↑ "If a homosexual cannot so overcome his or her condition to the extent of being able to have a heterosexual marriage, he or she must remain single, and abstain from sexual relations. These are the same requirements as for a heterosexual person who does not marry."
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 11) 
- ↑ In a 1998 position statement, the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association wrote that they oppose "any psychiatric treatment, such as 'reparative' or conversion therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation."
- ↑ The American Psychological Association and nine other American health and educational organizations issued a joint position statement saying that "All other major health professional organizations have supported the American Psychiatric Association in its declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Thus, the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-gender sexual desires among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among health and mental health professional organizations."
- ↑ "…the Faith does not recognize homosexuality as a "natural" or permanent phenomenon. Rather, it sees this as an aberration subject to treatment, however intractable exclusive homosexuality may now seem to be. To the question of alteration of homosexual bents, much study must be given, and doubtless in the future clear principles of prevention and treatment will emerge. As for those now afflicted, a homosexual does not decide to be a problem human, but he does, as you rightly state, have decision in choosing his way of life, i.e. abstaining from homosexual acts. "Your plea for understanding and of justice extended to homosexuals is well taken in many respects, and the House of Justice assures you of its concern for the large number of persons so afflicted. Your work with the homosexual community is praiseworthy, and it permits you personally to exercise the support which is necessary for these often harassed persons, support which you call for in your essay. Moreover, your interest cannot but be therapeutic, at least for the more superficial elements of the problem; however, definitive therapy of the underlying predisposition, which you consider to be innate but the Teachings do not, may have to await additional investigations. As for the responsibility of Assemblies and of individual Bahá’ís, certainly all are called upon to be understanding, supportive and helpful to any individual who carries the burden of homosexuality."
- (Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 22 March 1987)
- ↑ (Letter of The Universal House of Justice, 5 June 1993, Homosexuality, p. 7)
- ↑ "The House of Justice comments that while there is little in Bahá’í literature that specifically points to the causes of homosexuality itself, there is much that concerns the nature of man, his inner life and growth, and the way to a true Bahá’í life. If you are sincerely intent on overcoming your problem, you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels..."
- (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 16 July 1980; Lights of Guidance, p. 368, #1228)
- ↑ "You mention recent research which indicates that there may be a genetic basis for homosexuality; you accept the Bahá’í view of this matter, but you question the use of such terms as “abnormality, handicap, affliction, problem, etc.” since they can create misunderstandings. On the contrary, the House of Justice feels that just such words can be a great help to the individuals concerned. Human beings suffer from many problems, both physical and psychological. Some are the result of the individual’s own behaviour, some are caused by the circumstances in which he grew up, some are congenital. Some human beings are born blind, some suffer from incapacitating accidents or diseases. Such conditions present the individual affected, and those around him, with serious problems, and it is one of the challenges of the human condition that all those concerned should strive to overcome such problems and have understanding and sympathy for the individual so afflicted. "There is a wide range of sexual abnormalities. Some people nowadays maintain that homosexuality is not an abnormality and that homosexuals should be encouraged to establish sexual relations with one or more partners of the same sex. The Faith, on the contrary, makes it abundantly clear that homosexuality is an abnormality, is a great problem for the individual so afflicted, and that he or she should strive to overcome it. The social implications of such an attitude are very important. The primary purpose of sexual relations is, clearly, to perpetuate the species. The fact that personal pleasure is derived therefrom is one of the bounties of God. The sex act is merely one moment in a long process, from courtship through marriage, the procreation of children, their nursing and rearing, and involves the establishment of a mutually sustaining relationship between two souls which will endure beyond life on this earth."
- (Letter of The Universal House of Justice, 5 June 1993, Homosexuality, p. 11)
- ↑ "The statistics which indicate that homosexuality is incurable are undoubtedly distorted by the fact that many of those who overcome the problem never speak about it in public, and others solve their problems without even consulting professional counselors. Nevertheless there are undoubtedly cases in which the individual finds himself (or herself) unable to eliminate a physical attraction to members of the same sex, even though he succeeds in controlling his behavior. This is but one of the many trials and temptations to which human beings are subject in this life."
- (The Universal House of Justice, November 23, 1995 Baha'i Teachings on Homosexual Practices )
- ↑ "On the question of whether or not there is a biological predisposition to homosexuality, the letter indicates that the question is still open to dispute. In this regard, it may be important to note that while science may find that a predisposition to homosexuality is caused by genetic aberration, and in that sense may be considered "natural", it does not follow that it is "natural" for some people to be homosexual. A comparison can be drawn with the evidence which suggests that there is a genetic flaw which produces a predisposition to alcoholism. Most people would hesitate to conclude from such evidence that a person with such a genetic aberration would be destined to become an alcoholic in spite of any efforts to the contrary. As the letter states, "The statistics which indicate that homosexuality is incurable are undoubtedly distorted by the fact that many of those who overcome the problem never speak about it in public, and others solve their problems without consulting professional counselors." Furthermore, contrary evidence may well exist but may be overlooked by scientific reporting that is, for one reason or another, biased."
- (The Universal House of Justice, May 3, 1994, Advice on Homosexuality )
- ↑ Homosexuality in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, article by Kamran Hakim
- ↑ "Bahá’u’lláh has spoken very strongly against this shameful sexual aberration, as He has against adultery and immoral conduct in general."
- (Compiled by Universal House of Justice Research Department, Homosexuality, p. 3) 
- Bahá’u’lláh (1992) . The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0853989990. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KA/.
- Effendi, Shoghi; The Universal House of Justice (1983). Hornby, Helen (Ed.). ed. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Bahá’í Publishing Trust, New Delhi, India. ISBN 8185091463. http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guidance.
- The Bahá’í Faith and Homosexuality, an article from religioustolerance.org about the Bahá’í stance on homosexuality.
- Homosexuality, a compilation by the Universal House of Justice Research Department.
- Is Homosexuality Biological, or a Learned Behavior?, by the Universal House of Justice 1993-07-05.
- Advice on Homosexuality, by the Universal House of Justice 1994-05-03.
- Bahá’í Teachings on Homosexual Practices, by the Universal House of Justice 1995-11-23.
- www.bnasaa.org, the website of the Bahá’í Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions, and Abuse, which includes several pages on homosexuality.
- Review of some Bahá’í literature on homosexuality, anonymous author
- Statement on Homosexuality, by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, October 1996