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Buddhism and homosexuality

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Beliefs about homomosexuality among the Buddhist traditions

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"LGBT" refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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Overview:

People's beliefs towards LGBT persons are greatly influenced by many factors. Two of the most important are the interaction of culture with religion.

Culture often trumps religion. For example, in the case of the worldwide Anglican Communion:

  • Many Episcopal/Anglican/Church of England members in the U.S., Canadian, and UK provinces feel that the Communion is in a state of great sin because it does not grant equal rights to lesbians, gays bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals including recognition of their loving, committed relationships.

  • Many believers in African provinces believe that Anglican Communion is in a state of sin because many Anglicans in the West support equal rights for LGBT persons, including the right to:
    • Enjoy the same rights and protections as heterosexuals
    • Marry the person that they love and to whom they are committed,
    • Be considered for ordination as priests, and
    • Be eligible to be consecrated as bishops.

Here is a single religious tradition, using the same Bible as their holy book, sharing the same rituals, and sharing a common history that has extended over many centuries. Yet they take opposing views on homosexuality because of their vastly differing cultures. They are able to find biblical passages concerning homosexuality that support their very different cultural views.

The same cultural override appears to have happened in Buddhism as well. 1 In Western Buddhism, there seems to be a growing acceptance of consensual and safe same-sex sexual activity as moral, at least among persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. In many Asian countries, cultural influences cause many Buddhists to continue of a long tradition of considering same-sex behavior to be a form of sexual misconduct, no matter what the nature of the relationship is.

Within Christianity, there is no consensus on the ethics of homosexual behavior, only:

  • A general anti-LGBT agreement among fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians and
  • An opposing consensus among progressive and liberal Christians who favor equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities, with
  • Mainline denomination and congregations split between these two positions.

It appears that the same dynamic appears in Buddhism, and in many other religions.

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Topics covered in this section concerning LGBTs:

Copyright © 1998 to 2013 Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated and reviewed: 2013-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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