LGBT-affirming religious groups

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affirming religious groups (also called gay-affirming) are religious groups that welcome LGBT members and do not consider homosexuality to be a sin. They include entire religious denominations, as well as individual churches and synagogues. Some are composed mainly of non-LGBT members and also have specific programs to welcome LGBT people, while others are composed mainly of LGBT members.

Abrahamic religions[edit]

The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have traditionally forbidden non-heterosexual and non-vaginal sexual intercourse (both of which have been variously labeled as sodomy), believing and teaching that such behavior is sinful and derived from the behavior of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah.[1][2][3] Today, several denominations within Christianity and Judaism accept gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members and permit the ordination of openly LGBT candidates for ministry. Examples are the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements in Judaism, the United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, Episcopal Church in the United States, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Community of Christ, and the Metropolitan Community Church.[citation needed] Some of these traditions have made provision for same-sex unions or marriage. In Europe, a number of Lutheran, Reformed, United and Old Catholic churches have adopted increasingly accepting policies towards LGBT members.[citation needed]

Leadership within the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) have vocally supported LGBT rights.[4][5][6][7] Rainbow Catholics India now has representation at Mumbai, Goa, and Bangalore[8][9]

A number of Christian ministries seek to create officially sanctioned "Safe-spaces" in a similar vein as gay-straight alliances in various schools. LGBT ministries differ from lay-lead movements for the inclusion of LGBT parishioners in that most lay movements do not receive open and official support from clergy. They also differ from LGBT-oriented congregations (such as those of the Metropolitan Community Church) formed explicitly for LGBT parishioners in that the clergy of such congregations are not historically motivated toward opposition to LGBT dignity and equality upon establishment of the denomination.[citation needed]

Buddhism[edit]

Views on LGBT rights differ even within the same Buddhist tradition however many Buddhist leaders and groups have been historically supportive and continue to be supportive of LGBT people.[10][11][12][13]

Some modern Buddhist leaders were active in the movement for same-sex marriage rights in Taiwan which legalized same-sex marriages in 2019.[14][15][16][17]

In Thailand, some leaders in the Theravada tradition including Phra Payom Kalayano have expressed support for LGBT rights.[18][19] The Dalai Lama, the leader of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, has repeatedly "voiced his support for the full recognition of human rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation."[20] In the most recent interview with the Dalai Lama on this topic (March 10, 2014), the Dalai Lama said gay marriage is "OK", provided it's not in contradiction with the values of one's chosen religion.[21][22] Also in the Tibeten tradition, the Nalandabodhi sangha has stated that they are welcoming of all sexual orientations and well-known Bhutanese lama Khyentse Norbu has expressed support for LGBT rights in Bhutan.[23][24]

Some members of the Navayana (Ambedkarite) Buddhists are supporting LGBT rights within their larger activist activities.[25]

In western traditions, there is widescale support for LGBT rights including the European Buddhist Union,[26] the Buddhist Churches of America,[27][28][29] many Shin Buddhist groups,[30] and Zen leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh.[31][32] The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC), representing Buddhist laypeople, and the Australian Sangha Association vocally supported same-sex marriage in Australia.[33] Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA) is the most diverse Buddhist community in the United States with more than 500 chapters and some 100 centers throughout the country supports LGBT rights.[34] In a PEW research poll, 88% of American Buddhists stated that homosexuality should be accepted.[35] This was a higher level of support than any other religious group studied.[35]

Chinese folk religion[edit]

Tu'er Shen, also known as the Rabbit God, is a gay Chinese deity. In 2006, Lu Wei-ming founded a temple for Tu'er Shen in Yonghe District in the New Taipei City in Taiwan.[36] About 9,000 pilgrims visit the temple each year praying for a suitable (same-sex) partner.[37] The Wei-ming temple also performs love ceremonies for gay couples.[38] It is the world's only religious shrine for homosexuals.[39]

Epicureanism[edit]

Homosexuality was generally seen as normal in Ancient Greece and is today accepted in Epicureanism, as in other forms of secular humanism.[citation needed]

Hinduism[edit]

There is no central authority to speak on behalf of all Hindus and, therefore, each Sampradaya, temple, and religious leader may have differing opinions. The Gay & Lesbian Vaishnava Association, is a nonprofit religious organization offering positive information and support to LGBTQI Vaishnavas and Hindus more generally[40] The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) states that one of Hinduism's core teachings is that every being is Divine or a reflection of Divine qualities, regardless of one's outer attributes.[41] HAF states that this and other fundamental and ancient Hindu teachings may allow Hindus to more openly embrace LGBT rights and marriage equality.[41] HAF supports marriage equality for all Americans and submitted amicus briefs in various U.S. courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, to this end.[41] Anil Bhanot, general secretary of The United Kingdom Hindu Council said: "The point here is that the homosexual nature is part of the natural law of God; it should be accepted for what it is, no more and no less. Hindus are generally conservative but it seems to me that in ancient India, they even celebrated sex as an enjoyable part of procreation, where priests were invited for ceremonies in their home to mark the beginning of the process."[42] Many queer-affirming Hindus look to LGBT themes in Hindu mythology and LGBT content in pre-modern Indian as reasons to support and celebrate LGBT people.[43][44][45]

Raëlians[edit]

The Raëlian Movement looks positively on sexuality including homosexuality. Raël recognised same-sex marriage, and a Raëlian press release said that sexual orientation is genetic and likened discrimination against gays to racism.[46] Some Raëlian leaders have performed licensed same-sex marriages.[47]

Satanism[edit]

In both of the two primary mainstream satanic denominations, sex is viewed as an indulgence, but one that should only be freely entered into with consent. The Satanic Temple appears to be more vocally supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. Satanists from The Satanic Temple are pluralists, accepting bisexuals, lesbians, gays, transgender people, BDSM, and polyamorists. On July 14, 2013, The Satanic Temple travelled to the Mississippi gravesite of the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder, Fred Phelps. They performed a 'pink mass' ritual, aiming to make Phelps believe that The Satanic Temple had "turned his mother gay".[48]

LaVeyan Satanism is critical of Abrahamic sexual mores, considering them narrow, restrictive and hypocritical. The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth which are specific to the Church of Satan, only give two instructions regarding sex: "Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal" and "Do not harm little children", though the latter is much broader and encompasses physical and other abuse.[49] This has been a consistent part of Church of Satan policy since its inception in 1966.[50]

In a 2004 essay supporting same-sex marriage:

The Church of Satan is the first church to fully accept members regardless of sexual orientation and so we champion weddings/civil unions between adult partners whether they be of opposite or the same sex. So long as love is present and the partners wish to commit to a relationship, we support their desire for a legally recognized partnership, and the rights and privileges which come from such a union.

— Magister Peter H. Gilmore[51]

However, the Church of Satan began marketing an anti-equality polo shirt in March 2015, just 3 months before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.[52]

Theistic Satanists also oppose homophobia.[53]

Sikhism (Sikhi)[edit]

As individuals, many Sikhs support LGBT rights, civil partnerships, and same sex marriage because of the religion's emphasis on justice and equality.[54][55][56][57] Civil partnerships and same sex marriage are not banned in the Guru Granth Sahib.[54] LGBT-affirming Sikhs point to the Sikh belief that marriage is a union of souls.[58] In Sikhism, the soul is seen as genderless, and the outward appearance of human beings (man, woman) is a temporary state.[59]

While not a denomination, the organization Sarbat is a mixture of both practicing and non-practicing Sikhs with a focus on LGBT rights.[60] The core ethics of the group include the concept of Seva (selfless service), treating others with equality and respect, acknowledgement of the five fundamental human qualities Gurus extensively advocated of Sat (truth), Daya (compassion), Santokh (contentment), Nimrata (humility), and Pyaar (love), and confidentiality and discretion.[60]

Unitarian Universalism[edit]

Unitarians and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) have a long-standing tradition of welcoming LGBTQ+ people. The UUA position states that, "Each of us has worth and dignity, and that worth includes our gender and our sexuality. As Unitarian Universalists (UUs), we not only open our doors to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, we value diversity of sexuality and gender and see it as a spiritual gift. We create inclusive religious communities and work for LGBTQ justice and equity as a core part of who we are. All of who you are is sacred. All of who you are is welcome."[61]

The first ceremony of union performed by a UU minister for a same-gender couple was reportedly done in the late 1950s. It became more commonplace in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[62] The UUA has been ordaining people regardless of sexual orientation since the 1970s, and the first openly transgender person was ordained in 1988.[62] The UUA expects all ministers to show ministerial competency in the area of human sexuality before being approved for ordination.[62] In 2004 the UUA President's Freedom to Marry Fund was launched.[62] In 2009 Standing on the Side of Love was launched, a public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love's power to stop oppression.[62] The campaign provides a platform for freedom to marry efforts, among other causes.[62]

Vodou[edit]

Homosexuality is religiously acceptable in Haitian Vodou.[63][64][65] The lwa or loa (spirits) Erzulie Dantor and Erzulie Freda are often associated with and viewed as protectors of queer people.[66][67]

Wicca[edit]

Many Wiccans are generally welcoming of LGBTQ+ people. Wiccans tend to view sex in a positive light without guilt.[68] Some strands of Wicca go beyond welcoming gays and actively celebrate gay relationships.[69]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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