Homosexuality and religion

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Conservative Christian protesters at a 2006 San Francisco Pride event

The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and denominations, with regard to different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. The present-day doctrines of the world's major religions and their denominations vary vastly in their attitudes toward these sexual orientations.

Among the religious denominations which generally reject these orientations, there are many different types of opposition, ranging from quietly discouraging homosexual activity, explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among their adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality, supporting criminal sanctions up to capital punishment, and even to condoning extrajudicial killings. Religious fundamentalism often correlates with anti-homosexual bias.[1] Psychological research has connected religiosity with homophobic attitudes[2] and physical antigay hostility,[3] and has traced religious opposition to gay adoption to collectivistic values (loyalty, authority, purity) and low flexibility in existential issues, rather than to high prosocial inclinations for the weak.[4] Attitudes toward homosexuality have been found to be determined not only by personal religious beliefs, but by the interaction of those beliefs with the predominant national religious context—even for people who are less religious or who do not share their local dominant religious context.[5] Many argue that it is homosexual actions which are sinful, rather than same-sex attraction itself. To this end, some discourage labeling individuals according to sexual orientation.[6] Several organizations assert that conversion therapy can help diminish same-sex attraction.

However, some adherents of many religions view homosexuality and bisexuality positively, and some denominations routinely bless same-sex marriages and support LGBT rights, a growing trend as much of the developed world enacts laws supporting LGBT rights.

Historically, some cultures and religions accommodated, institutionalized, or revered same-sex love and sexuality;[7][8] such mythologies and traditions can be found around the world.[9] The status of homosexuality in Hinduism is ambiguous. Hindu texts contain few specific references to same-sex relations, though some punish it.[10] Ayoni sex, which includes oral and anal sex, was not seen as a serious crime, and could be practiced in some cases.[11] Sikh wedding ceremonies are non-gender specific, and so same-sex marriage is possible within Sikhism.[12]

Regardless of their position on homosexuality, many people of faith look to both sacred texts and tradition for guidance on this issue. However, the authority of various traditions or scriptural passages and the correctness of translations and interpretations are continually disputed.

Specific religious groups[edit]

Abrahamic religions[edit]

The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have traditionally forbidden sodomy, believing and teaching that such behavior is sinful.[13][14] Today some denominations within these religions are accepting of homosexuality and inclusive of homosexual people, such as Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church. Some Presbyterian and Anglican churches welcome members regardless of same-sex sexual practices, with some provinces allowing for the ordination and inclusion of gay and lesbian clerics, and affirmation of same-sex unions. Reform Judaism incorporates lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex marriage liturgies, while Reconstructionist Judaism and Conservative Judaism in the US allows for lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex unions.[15]


The Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) is the primary source for Jewish views on homosexuality. It states that: "[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is a תועבה toeba ("abomination")" (Leviticus 18:22). (Like many similar commandments, the stated punishment for willful violation is the death penalty, although in practice rabbinic Judaism no longer believes it has the authority to implement death penalties.)

Orthodox Judaism views homosexual acts as sinful. In recent years, there have been approaches claiming that only the sexual anal act is forbidden and considered an abomination by the Torah, while sexual orientation and even other sexual activities are not considered a sin. Conservative Judaism has engaged in an in-depth study of homosexuality since the 1990s, with various rabbis presenting a wide array of responsa (papers with legal arguments) for communal consideration. The official position of the movement is to welcome homosexual Jews into their synagogues, and also campaign against any discrimination in civil law and public society, but also to uphold a ban on anal sex as a religious requirement.

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism in North America and Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom view homosexuality to be acceptable on the same basis as heterosexuality. Progressive Jewish authorities believe either that traditional laws against homosexuality are no longer binding or that they are subject to changes that reflect a new understanding of human sexuality.[citation needed] Some of these authorities rely on modern biblical scholarship suggesting that the prohibition in the Torah was intended to ban coercive or ritualized homosexual sex, such as those practices ascribed to Egyptian and Canaanite fertility cults and temple prostitution.[16][17]


Christian denominations hold a variety of views on homosexual activity, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. Most Christian denominations welcome people attracted to the same sex, but teach that homosexual acts are sinful.[18][19] These denominations include the Roman Catholic Church,[19] the Eastern Orthodox church,[20] the Oriental Orthodox churches,[21] Confessional Lutheran denominations such as the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod[22][23] and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod,[24][25] the United Methodist Church,[18][26][27][28] and some other mainline denominations, such as the Reformed Church in America[29] and the American Baptist Church,[30] as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance,[31] and fundamentalist groups and churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention.[32][33][34] Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,[35] as well as Restorationist churches, like Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also take the position that homosexual sexual activity is sinful.[36][37]

Religious protest against homosexuality in San Francisco

Liberal Christians are generally supportive of homosexuals. Some Christian denominations do not view monogamous same sex relationships as bad or evil. These include the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ,[38] the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the churches of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran, reformed and united churches in Evangelical Church of Germany, the Church of Denmark, the Icelandic Church, the Church of Norway and the Protestant Church of the Netherlands. In particular, the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination of 40,000 members, was founded specifically to serve the Christian LGBT community, and is devoted to being open and affirming to LGBT people. The United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists also condone gay marriage, and some parts of the Anglican and Lutheran churches allow for the blessing of gay unions. Within the Anglican communion there are openly gay clergy; for example, Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool are openly homosexual bishops in the US Episcopal Church and Eva Brunne in Lutheran Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church's recent actions vis-a-vis homosexuality have brought about increased ethical debate and tension within the Church of England and worldwide Anglican churches. In the United States and many other nations, the religious people are becoming more affirming of same-sex relationships. Even those in denominations with official stances are liberalizing, though not as quickly as those in more affirming religious groups.[39]

Passages from the Mosaic Covenant and its broader Old Testament context have been interpreted to mean that anyone who is engaging in homosexual practices should be punished with death (Leviticus 20:13; cf. Genesis 19:4–25; Judges 19:22–20:48; 2 Peter 2:6–10; Jude 7). HIV/AIDS has also been portrayed by some Christian fundamentalists such as Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell as a punishment by God against homosexuals.[40] In the 20th century, theologians like Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, Hans Küng, John Robinson, Bishop David Jenkins, Don Cupitt, and Bishop Jack Spong challenged traditional theological positions and understandings of the Bible; following these developments some have suggested that passages have been mistranslated, are taken out of context, or that they do not refer to what we understand as "homosexuality."[41][42]

Conservative denominations[43] generally oppose same-sex sexual relations based on Old Testament and New Testament texts that describe human sexual relations as strictly heterosexual by God's design (Genesis 2:18–24; 1:26–28; Matthew 19:4–6; 1 Corinthians 7:1–40; Ephesians 5:22–33), which God declared "very good" (Genesis 1:26–31). As such, it is argued that sexual desires and actions that contradict God's design are deemed sinful and are condemned by God (e.g. "and with a male you [singular masculine] shall not lie [sexually] as with a female, that is an abomination," Leviticus 18:22; cf. Leviticus 20:13). Since love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:6), and since homosexual desires and actions are believed to remain contrary to God's design and condemned by God as sinful / iniquity (e.g. in general, Romans 1:26–27; passively, 1 Corinthians 6:9;[44] actively, including but not limited to pederasty, 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9–11;[45][46] considered sexually immoral, Galatians 5:19–21; Colossians 3:5–7; Ephesians 5:3[47]), adherents of conservative denominations believe that genuine love for God and humanity is best expressed by following God rather than the world (Acts 5:29; cf. Jeremiah 23:1–40; Romans 12:9).

Where the Catholic view is founded on a natural law argument informed by scripture and proposed by Thomas Aquinas,[19] the traditional conservative Protestant view is based on an interpretation of scripture alone. Protestant conservatives also see homosexual relationships as an impediment to heterosexual relationships. They interpret some Biblical passages to be commandments to be heterosexually married.[48] Catholics, on the other hand, have accommodated unmarried people as priests, monks, nuns and single lay people for over 1,000 years. A number of self-described gay and 'ex-gay' Christians have reported satisfaction in mixed-orientation marriages.[49][50][51]

Catholic Church[edit]

The Catholic Church teaches that those who are attracted to persons of the same sex are called to practice chastity,[19] just like everyone else has to before they get married.[19] The Catholic Church does not regard homosexual activity as an expression of the Marriage in the Catholic Churcmarital sacrament, which it teaches is only possible within a lifelong commitment of a marriage between a man and a woman. According to the Church's sexual ethics, homosexual activity falls short in the complementarity (male and female organs complement each other) and fecundity (openness to new life) of the sexual act. Few studies of parishioners' individual views are sometimes at variance with the church's non-acceptance of homosexuality.[52]

Latter-Day Saints[edit]
An LGBT Pride flag in front of the iconic temple.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that no one should arouse sexual feelings outside of marriage, including those towards members of the same sex.[53] The LDS church recognizes that feelings of same-sex attraction may not change or be overcome in this earth life, and expect all un-married members, gay or straight, to abstain from any and all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage.[54] The LDS church maintains that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex (i.e., homosexual feelings or "temptations") are not inherently sinful, but engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the "doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."[55] Those who experience same-sex attraction should continually exercise self-control and reliance on the atonement of Jesus Christ in order to refrain from acting on such feelings.[56][57] The LDS church strongly opposes same-sex marriage and teaches that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, and that this is essential to God's eternal plan.[58] Such issues are addressed on the LDS church website "Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction".[59]


Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.

— Quran, Surah 26 (165-166), trans. Sahih International
Same-sex intercourse illegal:
  Death penalty on books but not applied
According to the ILGA seven countries still retain capital punishment for homosexual behavior: Saudi Arabia, Yemen (for adultery), Iran, Brunei Afghanistan, Mauritania, and northern Nigeria.[60]

All of the major Islamic schools disapprove of homosexuality.[61] Islam views same-sex desires as an unnatural temptation, and sexual relations are seen as a transgression of the natural role and aim of sexual activity.[62] Islamic teachings (in the hadith tradition) presume same-sex attraction, extol abstention and (in the Qur'an) condemn consummation.

The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily concerned with activities between men. There are, however, a few hadiths that mention homosexual behavior among women; the fuqaha' are agreed that "there is no hard punishment for lesbianism, because it is not zina. Rather a ta'zeer punishment must be imposed, because it is a sin..."[63] Although punishment for lesbianism is rarely mentioned in the histories, al-Tabari records an example of the casual execution of a pair of lesbian slavegirls in the harem of al-Hadi in a collection of highly critical anecdotes pertaining to that Caliph's actions as ruler.[64]

There is controversy about whether or not being gay or lgbt in general is a sin. There are multiple beliefs that state the same idea that some Christians believe in about the words between homosexual and pedophile. [65] There are multiple Christian references towards the bibles before 1946 and after.:[66] [67] The APA also has resources and definitions towards the spectrum of religion and the LGBT+ community. [68]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

Bahá'í law limits permissible sexual relations to those between a man and a woman in marriage. Believers are expected to abstain from sex outside matrimony.[69] Bahá'ís do not, however, attempt to impose their moral standards on those who have not accepted the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá'í Faith takes no position on the sexual practices of those who are not adherents.[70] While requiring uprightness in all matters of morality, whether sexual or otherwise, the Bahá’í teachings also take account of human frailty and call for tolerance and understanding in regard to human failings. In this context, to regard homosexuals with prejudice would be contrary to the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings. [71]

Indian religions[edit]

Among the religions that originated in ancient and medieval India, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, teachings regarding homosexuality are less clear than among the Abrahamic traditions, and religious authorities voice diverse opinions. In 2005, an authority figure of Sikhism condemned same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. However, many people in Sikhism do not oppose gay marriage.[72] Hinduism is diverse, with no supreme governing body, but the majority of swamis opposed same-sex relationships in a 2004 survey, and a minority supported them.[73] Ancient religious texts such as the Vedas often refer to people of a third gender known as hijra, who are neither female nor male. Some see this third gender as an ancient parallel to modern western lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex identities.


Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in the form of Ardhanarisvara (half-man, half-woman)

Hinduism does not have a central authority. Many Hindu sects have taken various positions on homosexuality, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Referring to the nature of Samsara, the Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says 'Vikruti Evam Prakriti' (Perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, What seems unnatural is also natural).[74] A "third gender" has been acknowledged within Hinduism since Vedic times. Several Hindu texts, such as Manu Smriti[75] and Sushruta Samhita, assert that some people are born with either mixed male and female natures, or sexually neuter, as a matter of natural biology (while at the same time there are examples of speaking negatively in regards to male homosexuality as shown by the Manu Smrititi and Arthashastra). In addition, each Hindu denomination had developed distinct rules regarding sexuality, as Hinduism is not unified and is decentralized in essence.

Hindu groups are historically not unified regarding the issue of homosexuality, each one having a distinct doctrinal view.[76][77][78]

The Indian Kama Sutra, written around 150 BC,[79] contains passages describing eunuchs or "third-sex" males performing oral sex on men.[80][81] The text describes Kama as one of the three objectives to be achieved in life.[82] Though it forbids the educated Brahmins, bureaucrats and wisemen from practicing Auparishtaka (oral sex).[83]

Similarly, some medieval Hindu temples and artifacts openly depict both male homosexuality and lesbianism within their carvings, such as the temple walls at Khajuraho. Some infer from these images that at least part of the Hindu society and religion were previously more open to variations in human sexuality than they are at present.

Khajoraho scene of three women and one man.

Ayoni sex, which includes oral and anal sex, never came to be viewed as much of a sin like in Christianity nor a serious crime and could be practiced in some cases. Close friendship between people of same genders has also been seen as permissible in Hindu texts.[11]

Several Hindu priests have performed same-sex marriages, arguing that love is the result of attachments from previous births and that marriage, as a union of spirit, is transcendental to gender.[84][85]


The most common formulation of Buddhist ethics are the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path, one should neither be attached to nor crave sensual pleasure. The third of the Five Precepts is "To refrain from committing sexual misconduct."[86] However, "sexual misconduct" is a broad term, and is subjected to interpretation relative to the social norms of the followers. The determination of whether or not same-gender relations is appropriate for a layperson is not considered a religious matter by many Buddhists.[87]

According to the Pāli Canon and Āgama (the Early Buddhist scriptures), there is not any saying that same or opposite gender relations have anything to do with sexual misconduct,[88][89] and some Theravada monks express that same-gender relations do not violate the rule to avoid sexual misconduct, which means not having sex with someone under age (thus protected by their parents or guardians), someone betrothed or married or who has taken vows of religious celibacy.[90]

Some later traditions gradually began to add new restrictions on sexual misconduct, like non-vagina sex, though some academics argue it usually involves situations seem as coerced sex.[91][92][93] This non-vagina sex as sexual misconduct view is not based on what Buddha's said, but from some later Abhidharma texts.[94][95]

Buddhism is often characterized as distrustful of sensual enjoyment and sexuality in general.[96] Traditionally, sex and lust are seen as hindering to spiritual progress in most schools of Buddhism; as such monks are expected to refrain from all sexual activity, and the Vinaya (the first book of the Tripitaka) specifically prohibits sexual intercourse, then further explain that anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse amount to sexual intercourse, which will result in permanent exclusion from Sangha.[97] A notable exception in the history of Buddhism occurred in Japan during the Edo period, in which male homosexuality, or more specifically, love between young novices and older monks, was celebrated.[98]

References to pandaka, a eunuch/impotence category that is sometimes interpreted to include homosexual males, can be found throughout the Pali canon as well as other Sanskrit scriptures.[99][100] In the Chinese version of Sarvastivada Vinaya, the pandaka is mentioned as also trying to have sex with women, not just men.[101] Leonard Zwilling refers extensively to Buddhaghosa's Samantapasadika, where pandaka are described as being filled with defiled passions and insatiable lusts, and are dominated by their libido. Some texts of the Abhidharma state that a pandaka cannot achieve enlightenment in their own lifetime, (but must wait for rebirth) and Asanga and Vasubandhu discussed if a pandaka was able to be enlightened or not. According to one scriptural story, Ananda—Buddha's cousin and disciple—was a pandaka in one of his many previous lives.

Some later classic Buddhist masters and texts disallow contact between monks/Bodhisattva and pandakas/women and classify non-vagina sex as sexual misconduct, including for lay followers.[102][103][91][104][105][106]

The third of the five precepts of Buddhism states that one is to refrain from sexual misconduct; this precept has sometimes been interpreted to include homosexuality. The Dalai Lama of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism previously interpreted sexual misconduct to include lesbian and gay sex, and indeed any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse, including oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand; the only time sex is acceptable is when it performed for its purpose of procreation.[107][108][109] In 2009, when interviewed by Canadian TV news anchor Evan Solomon on CBC News: Sunday about whether or not homosexuality is acceptable in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama responded that "it is sexual misconduct."[110] However, the Dalai Lama supports human rights for all, "regardless of sexual orientation."[111] In the most recent interview 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.[112][113] Also in an Indian and Tibetan tradition, the Nalandabodhi sangha has stated that they are welcoming of all sexual orientations.[114]

In Thailand, some accounts propose that "homosexuality arises as a karmic consequence of violating Buddhist proscriptions against heterosexual misconduct. These karmic accounts describe homosexuality as a congenital condition which cannot be altered, at least in a homosexual person's current lifetime, and have been linked with calls for compassion and understanding from the non-homosexual populace."[96] However, Buddhist leaders in Thailand have also condemned homosexuality,[96] ousted monks accused of homosexual acts, and banned kathoey from ordination. In 2009, Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedh introduced a "good manners" curriculum for novices in the monkhood, stating to the BBC that he was concerned by "the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks, who can often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows."[115] However, in Thailand, several leaders in the Theravada tradition including Phra Payom Kalayano have expressed support for LGBT rights.[116][117][118]

A later popular Japanese legend attributed the introduction of monastic homosexuality to Japan to Shingon founder Kukai, although scholars now dismiss the veracity of this assertion, pointing out his strict adherence to the Vinaya.[119][120][121] Nonetheless, the legend served to "affirm same sex relation between men and boys in seventeenth century Japan."[121][122] However, Japanese Buddhist scholar and author of Wild Azaleas Kitamura Kigin argued that there was a tendency in monasteries to avoid heterosexuality and to encourage homosexuality.[123]

Although Mahayana Buddhism has some texts against homosexuality (from later Abhidharma texts and Buddhist apocrypha), the majority of its teachings assert that all beings who correctly practice the dharma may reach enlightenment, since all possess an innate Buddha nature. Enlightenment being achievable even in a single life.[124][125] Some Mahayana Buddhist leaders were active in the movement for same-sex marriage rights in Taiwan which legalized same-sex marriages in 2019.[126][127][128][129]

Well known Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, notes the spirit of Buddhism is inclusiveness and states "when you look at the ocean, you see different kinds of waves, many sizes and shapes, but all the waves have water as their foundation and substance. If you are born gay or lesbian, your ground of being in the same as mine. We are different, but we share the same ground of being."[130][131]

The capacity of Buddhism to reform itself and its great variety of distinct beliefs and schools, provide many liberal streams of Buddhism, which are accepting of all sexual orientations. Reformist Buddhism is predominant in the west and in some eastern cosmopolitan cities. In western traditions, there is widescale support for LGBT rights including the European Buddhist Union,[132] the Buddhist Churches of America,[133][134][135] many Shin Buddhist groups,[136] and Zen leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh.[137][138] The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC), representing Buddhist laypeople, and the Australian Sangha Association vocally supported same-sex marriage in Australia.[139] 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.[140] In a PEW research poll, 88% of American Buddhists stated that homosexuality should be accepted.[141] This was a higher level of support than any other religious group studied.[141]


Sikhism has no written view on the matter, but in 2005, a Sikh religious authority described homosexuality as "against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature," and called on Sikhs to support laws against gay marriage.[142] Many Sikhs are against this view, however,[143] and state that the Sikh Scriptures promote equality and do not condemn homosexuality.[144]

Marriage in Sikhism is seen as a union of souls. In Sikhism, the soul is seen as genderless, and the outward appearance of human beings (man, woman) is a temporary state. Same-sex marriage advocates refer to this fact.[144]

In Sikh Scripture

The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the highest authority in the Sikhism, it is seen as the 11th and eternal Guru. It serves as a guide to Sikhs on how to live positive lives, and details what behavior is expected of all Sikhs. It is seemingly silent on the subject of homosexuality; however, married life is encouraged time and again in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Whenever marriage is mentioned, it is always in reference to a man and a woman. Some Sikhs believe that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the complete guide to life, and if a marriage between two of the same sexes is not mentioned, it is therefore not right. The counterargument to this is that man and woman are only mentioned in this way to give light to the relationship of the soul and the soul force as being one. This denies gender and sex as an issue. Thus, Sikhism is more concerned with ones attainment of enlightenment rather than habitual desires such as sexuality. True love is attained through the Guru and no man speaks on behalf of the Guru as the Granth is open to interpretation and misrepresentation.[citation needed]

There are five vices (habitual desires) outlined in the Guru Granth Sahib that one should try to control. One of these vices is lust, and some Sikhs believe that homosexual thoughts and behaviour are just manifestations of lust. However, Sikhs that are more accepting of homosexuality claim that this is equally applicable to heterosexuals. These same Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak's emphasis on universal equality and brotherhood is fundamentally in support of the human rights of homosexuals.[citation needed]

Views on homosexuality tend not to be a primary concern in Sikh teachings, as the universal goal of a Sikh is to have no hate or animosity to any person, regardless of race, caste, color, creed, gender, or sex.[citation needed]

The Guru's silence on homosexuality has led to a history of ambivalence on the topic.[citation needed]


The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is a man that is a Daeva [demon]; this man is a worshipper of the Daevas, a male paramour of the Daevas

— Vendidad

The Vendidad, one of the later Zoroastrian texts composed in the Artificial Young Avestan language, has not been dated precisely. It is thought that some concepts of law, uncleanliness, dualism, and salvation were shared between the religions, and subsequent interactions between the religions are documented by events such as the release of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity by Zoroastrian Cyrus the Great in 537 BC, and the Biblical account of the Magi visiting the infant Jesus.

The Vendidad generally promotes procreation: "the man who has a wife is far above him who lives in continence; he who keeps a house is far above him who has none; he who has children is far above the childless man; he who has riches is far above him who has none." It details the penance for a worshipper who submits to sodomy under force as "Eight hundred stripes with the Aspahe-astra, eight hundred stripes with the Sraosho-charana." (equal to the penalty for breaking a contract with the value of an ox),[145] and declares that for those participating voluntarily "For that deed there is nothing that can pay, nothing that can atone, nothing that can cleanse from it; it is a trespass for which there is no atonement, for ever and ever". However, those not practicing the Religion of Mazda were pardoned for past actions upon conversion.[146] It has been argued that, in ancient times, those prohibitions against sodomy didn't apply to eunuchs.[147]

East Asian religions[edit]

Among the Taoic religions of East Asia, such as Taoism, passionate homosexual expression is usually discouraged because it is believed to not lead to human fulfillment.[148]


Confucianism, being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality; whether homosexual or heterosexual. However, the ideology did emphasize male friendships, and Louis Crompton has argued that the "closeness of the master-disciple bond it fostered may have subtly facilitated homosexuality".[149] Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Analects of Confucius.[150]


There is no single official position on homosexuality in Taoism, as the term Taoism is used to describe a number of disparate religious traditions which might have different ideas.

In a similar way to Buddhism, Taoist schools sought throughout history to define what would be sexual misconduct. The precept against Sexual Misconduct is sex outside your marriage. The married spouses (夫婦) usually in Chinese suggest male with female, though the scripture itself does not explicitly say anything against same-gender relations.[151][152] Many sorts of precepts mentioned in the Yunji Qiqian (雲笈七籤), The Mini Daoist Canon, does not explicitly say anything against same-gender relations as well.[153]

Homosexuality is not unknown in Taoist history, such as during the Tang dynasty when Taoist nuns exchanged love poems.[154] As a sexual misconduct however would depend on what sect or school they were from as some traditions considered homosexuality to be misconduct and others did not mention it at all. There are also certain talismans recorded in different traditions that claim to "cure" a person of the "homosexual disease/desire". Attitudes about homosexuality within Taoism often reflect the values and sexual norms of broader Chinese society and what region of China the sect resided in (see Homosexuality in China).


Radical Faeries[edit]

The Radical Faeries are a worldwide queer spiritual movement, founded in 1979 in the United States.


The Wiccan Charge of the Goddess, one of the most famous texts in Neopaganism, states in the words of the Goddess, "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals".[155] In traditional forms of Wicca, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, magic is often performed between a man and a woman, and the "Great Rite" is a sex ritual performed between a Priest and Priestess representing the God and Goddess;[156] however, this is not generally seen as excluding homosexuals or magic between same-sex couples. Most groups still insist, however, that initiations be conferred from man to woman or woman to man.


Satanism, in both the theistic and the LaVey tradition, is open to all forms of sexual expression, and does not preclude homosexuality.[157]

Unitarian Universalism[edit]

The first ordained minister of a major religious sect in the U.S. or Canada to come out as gay was the UU Minister James Stoll in 1969.[158] There have been UUA resolutions supporting people regardless of sexual orientation since 1970. Unitarian Universalism was the first denomination to accept openly transgender people as full members with eligibility to become clergy; in 1988 the first openly transgender person was ordained by the Unitarian Universalist Association.[159][160][161]

The Unitarian Universalist Association has supported the marriage equality since 1996[162] and compared those who resisted such equality to the resistance to the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, and the end of anti-miscegenation laws.[163] Several congregations have undertaken a series of organizational, procedural and practical steps to become acknowledged as a "Welcoming Congregation": a congregation which has taken specific steps to welcome and integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender (GLBT) members. UU ministers perform same-sex unions and now same-sex marriages where legal (and sometimes when not, as a form of civil protest). On 29 June 1984, the Unitarian Universalists became the first major church "to approve religious blessings on homosexual unions." Unitarian Universalists have been in the forefront of the work to make same-sex marriages legal in their local states and provinces, as well as on the national level. Gay men and lesbians are also regularly ordained as ministers, and a number of gay and lesbian ministers have, themselves, now become legally married to their partners. In May 2004, Arlington Street Church, Boston was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States. The official stance of the UUA is for the legalization of same-sex marriage—"Standing on the Side of Love." In 2004 UU Minister Rev. Debra Haffner of The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published An Open Letter on Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality to affirm same-sex marriage from a multi-faith perspective.


Humanism is a non-religious, non-theistic approach to life that supports full equality for LGBTQ individuals,[164][165] including the right to marry.[166][167] Humanism and Its Aspirations, a statement of humanist principles from the American Humanist Association, states that "humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views...work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner."[168] The American Humanist Association provides a LGBT Humanist Pride award[169] and has funded a LGBT-inclusive prom for Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi.[170] The organisation LGBT Humanists UK "is a United Kingdom-based not-for-profit that campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and human rights and promotes Humanism as an ethical worldview." It was formerly an independent group, but since 2012 has been a part of the charity Humanists UK. In 2009 they gave Stephen Fry an award "for his services to humanism and gay rights."[171][172]

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson, who is gay, once wrote that "humanists have always been champions of LGBT rights" and cited his organisation's many years campaigning for decriminalisation and LGBT equality in the UK, including legal same-sex marriages. He pointed out the large number of LGBT people in the movement, including Stephen Fry, Christian Jessen, and Peter Tatchell, as well as historical associations with humanism like the writer Virginia Woolf and E M Forster.[173] In a statement following the Orlando nightclub shooting for the International Humanist and Ethical Union, of which Copson is also President, he went further, saying "Humanism is the ultimate, long-standing and unfaltering ally of LGBTI people everywhere".[174]


In Candomblé, homosexuality is usually accepted and explained by the sex of one's orisha.[175] Homosexuality would be more probable in a man with a female orisha, a woman with a male orisha, or any of them with an androgynous orisha (such as Olokun).

Unification Church[edit]

Unification Church views heterosexual marriage which becomes "fruitful" by raising their children as God's ideal. Any other sexual relationship, than between husband and wife, is considered a sin. Unification Church founder Son Myung Moon opposed homosexuality and free sex and in some of his speeches compared such relationships to "dirty dung filled water" and that "Satan and dirty dung-eating dogs go after that".[176] He prophesied that "gays will be eliminated" in a "purge on God's orders".[177]

Religious groups and public policy[edit]

Opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT rights is often associated with conservative religious views. The American Family Association and other religious groups have promoted boycotts of corporations whose policies support the LGBT community.

In conservative Islamic nations, laws generally prohibit same-sex sexual behaviour, and interpretation of Sharia Law on male homosexuality carries the death penalty. This has been condemned as a violation of human rights by human rights organisation Amnesty International and by the writers of the Yogyakarta principles. With the signature of the US in 2009, the proposed UN declaration on LGBT rights has now been signed by every European secular state and all western nations, as well as other countries—67 members of the UN in total. An opposing statement put forward by Muslim nations was signed by 57 member states, mostly in Africa and Asia. 68 out of the total 192 countries have not yet signed either statement. In 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution initiated by South Africa supporting LGBT rights (See Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the United Nations)

See also[edit]


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    1. agamaniya vatthu — that which should not be visited (the 20 groups of women).
    2. asmim sevana-cittam — the intention to have intercourse with anyone included in the above-mentioned groups.
    3. sevanap-payogo — the effort at sexual intercourse.
    4. maggena maggappatipatti — sexual contact through that adhivasanam effort.
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