Speaking to an audience in Singapore recently and replying to a question about the Buddhist position on same-sex relations from the floor Ajahn Brahm urged Buddhists to be compassionate to all human beings and that such an attitude should be the starting point of any Buddhist position on the LGBTIQ community.
“There is nothing in the sutras, in the teachings of the Buddha, which discriminates against anybody no matter what race, religion, or sexual orientation. I do ask all Buddhists to please show compassion and respect for everybody,” said the Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore.
“If you discriminate and suppress a person’s natural sexuality, it causes terrible, terrible harm. It is one of the reasons why, in civilized countries, modern countries in the West, they recognize that it is harming the whole community, said the Abbott of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Serpentine, Western Australia.
“And morality does not fall apart when we don’t have discrimination,” he said adding that countries that do respect the gay community don’t fall apart and morality is usually much better.
Ajahn Brahm said that he did not understand the same-sex orientation while he was growing up and as a layman but that changed since becoming a monk. “Becoming a monk, you have much great opportunity to become wise, become compassionate,” he said.
The Buddhist monk then concluded with an incident that helped him to fully understand the need for religious leaders to teach compassion and respect for the LGBTIQ community.
“Many years ago in Perth , a leader of the gay community in Perth came up to me… I remember this guy came up to me, he was a leader of the gay community in Australia and he said, “Religion has been so cruel to the gay community.”
And when he said that, you could feel his pain and that went right into my heart. I have never forgotten that. How it hurt him to the core for years. That’s unacceptable,” the abbot said.
Gay rights are a contentious issue in Singapore, with many either wanting to retain or abrogate a British colonial-era “Section 377A” law that criminalizes sex between men with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
The government claims it does not actively enforce that ban but many Christian and Muslim religious groups want no debate on discarding the law and have become vociferous in opposing gay rights ever since Singapore last month witnessed its largest gay-rights rally with 26,000 people attending.
Buddhists who comprise 33 percent of the population in Singapore have kept out of that debate.
You can watch a clip of the video of Ajahn Brahm’s talk here: