International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March. This year I have decided to write about Jayne Ozanne, the gay evangelical author and activist.
Jayne is one of the most empowered women I know. She campaigns fearlessly for both LGBTQ and women’s rights. Splitting her time between Oxford and London, she heads the Ozanne Foundation, which campaigns for full inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Church of England (C of E) and across all denominations and faiths. She also sits on the Government’s LGBT Advisory Panel.
In terms of LGBTQ rights she has been at the forefront of the campaign to have so-called ‘conversion therapy’ banned in the UK. Conversion therapy is when an individual is subjected to spiritual, psychological and sometimes even physical interventions to change their sexual orientation. Jayne is a member of the C of E’s Synod, their equivalent of a parliament. In 2017, she introduced a motion in Synod to have the practice banned within the Church of England, which was successful.
A commitment was also secured from the Government in their July 2018 LGBT Action Plan to end the practice. Currently, while the C of E did lead the way in banning conversion therapy in Synod, that ban is not uniformly enforced in each diocese. Furthermore, legislation is also required to ensure a uniform approach is taken across all faiths.
In 2017, in the context of the #MeToo movement, Jayne spoke out bravely about her own experiences of sexual harassment within the C of E. This had a huge impact, empowering other women to speak out about the abuse in their faith communities.
Jayne went on to elaborate about her faith journey, including the various types of conversion therapy she encountered, in her memoir Just Love, released in 2018.
Jayne speaks truth to power. In November 2019, she presented a copy of Just Love to the Pope in Rome, alongside further research on conversion therapy. The Pope welcomed the gift, adding that he would remember Jayne in his prayers.
So, this International Women’s Day, I invite you to reflect on Jayne’s achievements.