By Gabriella Borter
April 4 (Reuters) - The Mormon church will allow the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents to be baptized, but will not sanction same-sex marriage, its leadership said on Thursday.
The decision, announced on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website Thursday morning, reverses a 2015 policy that deemed same-sex couples to be apostates of the faith, which made their children ineligible for baptism.
"We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today," said the church, which no longer uses the common name Mormon. "We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications."
The policy took effect on Thursday for the more than 16 million members of the Salt Lake City-based church.
LGBT advocates praised the move as progress in a fight to end discrimination against LGBT people in faith groups.
"This statement by the LDS Church to change course is a move in the right direction that will make a real difference in the lives of LGBTQ Mormons," The Trevor Project, an international advocacy group for LGBT youth, said in a statement.
The church's statement emphasized that the new policy does not reflect a change in church doctrine. The church considers same-sex marriage and same-sex acts to be sins, while it does not condemn same-sex attraction alone, according to its website.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler)
Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.