Several months ago the Thai NGO MPlus+, an organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS but turning to civil rights, sponsored a seminar on gay marriage and gender diversity rights. Representatives came from Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. The speakers essentially agreed it would be unlikely that any of the official leaders or their religious hierarchies would be supportive of gay marriage or of providing access and acceptance to gay people, even those gay and lesbian people within their own faith communities. In other words, openly gay people would in some ways be unwelcome and any official discussion of the issue would be unlikely.
Late in the afternoon, having been mellowed by the day-long plea from the largely gay and lesbian participants, the Buddhist spokesman tentatively proposed that maybe gay and lesbian Buddhists could form their own sect (denomination) and write their own rules, as Buddhism allows, he said. Now, how likely is that?
The participants were all aware that there is tacit tolerance of LGBT people, or at least of LGBs and some Ts. We can slink around inside religious functions as long as we don’t do, say, or seem in any way queer. Any particular insight, gift, or point of view we might bring would be expected to be gender neutral from us, and we would be required to tolerate heterosexual assumptions and occasional homophobia with equanimity and a wry smile. At this rate, the three leading religions in Thailand (and many other countries) are fine with abdicating all responsibility for social leadership with regard to gender rights, and are unperturbed about offering only low levels of love and support to their own gay sons and daughters.
Come on, people, is this the best we can do?
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.