Creating a Sense of Belonging

Acceptance Perth LGBT Catholics is a fully inclusive and affirming group comprising of LGBTIQA+ Catholics, their families, and their friends.

We offer a place for hope, healing, and peace for those seeking a community where LGBTIQA+ people of faith can be their true selves and live out their faith with full flourishing of their humanity.

By gathering together, embracing the truth about ourselves, and celebrating God’s love – we seek to point towards the full inclusivity to which God is calling us.

Wherever you are on your journey – whether you are examining your own identity or walking along side others, Acceptance Perth is a place of welcome. We are grateful that God has brought you here, and we look forward to sharing the path forward together.

The History of Acceptance

people at a picnic

A picnic held in the 1990’s.

Acceptance Australia is one of the world’s longest running LGBT Catholic groups. It has run continuously since 1972. You can read more about the history of Acceptance here.

Dennis Kelly created Acceptance Perth in May 1979. The group held monthly masses at home, had a very active social club, and produced newsletters. They were supported by a Jesuit priest, Fr John Harte SJ, in their endeavours.

Dennis Kelly served as the National Coordinator of Acceptance Australia from 1981-1986. As the National Coordinator, he organised Acceptance Australia’s annual National Conference in different cities each year.

Jim Sieler took over as Acceptance Perth President in 1983 and held this position for seven years. During this period, one of the Acceptance Australia National Conferences took place in Perth. When the Jesuit priest left for abroad, several Marist priests helped to celebrate mass.

In 1986, Acceptance Perth became an incorporated organisation called Acceptance West (Inc.).

As LGBT Christian organisations started to form in Perth in the mid-80’s, Acceptance supported them and had get togethers with Uniting Friends (Uniting Church), Integrity (Anglican), and the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Acceptance also donated to charities on a regular basis.

During the HIV/AIDS crisis, Dennis Kelly became employed with the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service. Together with Acceptance, they met to figure out a spiritual component of this service so that they could help more people.

They had a good relationship with Archbishop Foley and a number of other Catholic organisations. In 1989, Jim Seiler attended the Perth Archdiocesan Assembly as the official delegate to represent the Catholic gay community. This was seen by many as some formal recognition for the role of Acceptance in the diocese. Approximately 600 delegates attended this event, and the ministry of homosexual people was mentioned a number of times.

In 1990, they were invited to an official event run by the Archdiocese of Perth to discuss how to best meet the needs of adult faith education.

Also in 1990, they moved into the office at W.I.S.H. (Western Institute of Self-Help), now called ConnectGroups. This office was located at 80 Railway Road in Cottesloe. They started to celebrate mass here.

Margaret Hawke became President of Acceptance Perth in 1991. She also served as the Women’s Affairs Liaison.

In 1993, Acceptance Perth ceased to exist.

The new version of Acceptance Perth LGBT Catholics launched on Facebook and Instagram in November 2019.

In April 2020, we officially launched as a group of friends to catch up with each other, as well as to grow in faith with each other.

In November 2022, Acceptance Perth hosted the first religious event that was part of the official PrideWA guide. This unique event, Queer Christian Stories, was where 5 people (a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary) shared their stories about navigating faith and sexuality and/or gender identity.

Our members come from all across the Perth metropolitan area for our regular catch ups. We also have members who are from regional Western Australia who attend when they are in town.

Acceptance Perth is a member of the Rainbow Catholic InterAgency for Ministry (RCiA) which is a group of LGBTIQA+ Catholic pastoral leaders and organisers in Australia. Some of the projects that RCiA have run include mindfulness meditation sessions via Zoom, supporting multicultural projects such as the ‘Sounds of Christmas from the Asia-Pacific’ which helped to fundraise for various charities, and refugee outreach. RCiA is also a member of the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC).

In 2023, we officially became recognised as Community Partners with Act Belong Commit. Act Belong Commit is a well-regarded state-wide evidence-based health promotion campaign designed to encourage people to take action to improve and protect their mental health and well-being.

Candle with a rainbow, a cross, bible, and australian indigenous flags

Photo from the Australian National Catholic LGBTQIA+ Pastoral Care Symposium in 2020

50 Years of Acceptance Australia logo

Across June 2023-2024, Acceptance chapters across Australia will be celebrating our Golden Jubilee!

AMAZING NEWS – We received a handwritten message from Pope Francis congratulating Acceptance Australia on our 50th Anniversary!

In 2023, we held the first multifaith/interfaith event for Perth Pride Month which included the stories and music of LGBT & Ally people of faith. This included stories and music from Jews and Muslims as well.

Due to the success of our annual Pride Month events, we have co-created the Rainbow Interfaith Alliance in collaboration with LGBTIQA+ affirming pastoral and organisational leaders in this space. The purpose of this group is to build the much needed capacity in this space for LGBTIQA+ people of faith to have a safe space to meet one another. It is also a great way to build harmony and unity in diversity.