Indian Court Overturns Gay Sex Ban

02india1-600By Heather Timmons and Hari Kumar
July 2, 2009

NEW DELHI —In a landmark ruling Thursday that could usher in an era of greater freedom for gay men and lesbians in India, New Delhi’s highest court decriminalized homosexuality.

“The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone,” judges of the Delhi High Court wrote in a 105-page decision, India’s first to directly address rights for gay men and lesbians. “Those perceived by the majority as ‘deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracized,” the decision said.

Homosexuality has been illegal in India since 1861, when British rulers codified a law prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” The law, known as Section 377 of India’s penal code, has long been viewed as an archaic holdover from colonialism by its detractors.

“Clearly, we are all thrilled,” said Anjali Gopalan, the executive director and founder of the Naz Foundation, an AIDS awareness group that sued to have Section 377 changed.

“It is a first major step,” Ms. Gopalan said during a news conference in Delhi, but “there are many more battles.”

Thursday’s decision applies only in the territory of India’s capital city, but it is likely to force India’s government either to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, or change the law nationwide, lawyers and advocates said.

Outside the hall where the Naz Foundation news conference was held, dozens of young men and women gathered to celebrate, along with a group of hijras, men who dress and act like women who classify themselves as belonging to neither gender. “It is a victory of human rights, not just of gay rights,” said one 22-year-old man who only identified himself as Manish.

Gay men and women have rarely been prosecuted under Section 377 in India in modern times, but it has been used to harass, blackmail and jail people.

Britain legalized homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, but many of its former colonies, including Singapore, Zimbabwe and Malaysia, still retain strict laws against same-sex relations.

India’s society is generally unwelcoming of homosexuality except in the most cosmopolitan circles. It is not uncommon for gay men and women to marry heterosexuals and have families, while carrying on secret relationships with members of the same sex.

In their decision, Chief Justice A. P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar declared Section 377, as it pertains to consensual sex among people above the age of 18, in violation of important parts of India’s Constitution. “Consensual sex amongst adults is legal, which includes even gay sex and sex among the same sexes,” they said.

The old law violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees all people “equality before the law;” Article 15, which prohibits discrimination “on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth;” and Article 21, which guarantees “protection of life and personal liberty,” the judges said.

Acceptance of homosexuality has thawed somewhat in recent years in some urban areas. Gay pride parades in Indian cities last weekend attracted thousands of marchers, and several recent Bollywood movies, like “Dostana,” have included gay themes and characters, often played by Bollywood’s biggest heterosexual stars.

Still, the decision was condemned from many corners in India. “This is wrong,” said Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, a vice chancellor of Dar ul-Uloom, the main university for Islamic education in India. The decision to bring Western culture to India, he said, will “corrupt Indian boys and girls.”

The High Court’s decision should be overturned, said Murli Manohar Joshi, the leader of the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. “The High Court cannot decide all things,” he said.

The ruling comes after a decade-long, broad-based campaign organized by gay rights advocates, authors, celebrities, lawyers and AIDS awareness groups from around the world. India has one of the world’s largest populations of people with AIDS, and Section 377 was viewed by many advocates as a hurdle to education about safer sex.

Now that the High Court has ruled against Section 377, some say the next step is a change in the way that society views gay people.

“The real problem is still the stigma attached,” especially outside big cities, said Ritu Dalmia, one of India’s best-known chefs, who lives with her girlfriend in New Delhi.

Change particularly needs to happen in rural India, she said in an e-mail message Thursday afternoon. “I have met women who were forced to sleep with men so that they could be ‘cured’ of homosexuality,” she said.

“Today is a historical moment where at least some tiny steps have been taken, but there is still a very, very long road ahead,” she said.


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53 Responses to Indian Court Overturns Gay Sex Ban

  1. It is not uncommon for gay men and women to marry heterosexuals and have families, while carrying on secret relationships with members of the same sex.

    Given this fact I would say that the opposition’s opinion that the ruling will result in the degradation of Indian society is unfounded. An outdated law plus social stigma force people to live a lie. This is antithetical to the dharmic values India is supposed to stand for. To acknowledge it openly and officially allow homosexuals the option for a dignified life seems a far more intelligent and compassionate response in my book.

  2. Yet again the famous yoga guru Baba Ramadeva has opposed the gay sex decision and is preparing a petition to oppose the court move. According to him, homsexuality can be treated as cogential defect and can be treated by pranayama and other yogic techniques.

    http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3070357

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      Let him prove it first. I heard of a yogi who, with pranayama and in front of someone, restored the color in his graying hair.
      Let him go bald, and if he is, let him grow his hair back. Then let him become homosexual and back, like with any other congenital defect. That should give enough time for people to realize that, wait a minute, congenital defect? If the law discriminated against bald people, people might wear wigs in fear of it, but it wouldn’t stop them from being bald, nor would abolishing the law spread baldness around people.
      And not like I need to convince anyone in this forum, but as far as the points about family and HIV, what about a homosexual man or woman who ends up getting married, has extra marital homosexual affairs, gets HIV and spreads in his or her family?

      • He is not bald and he has no gray hair through his yogic prowess. I like your witty remarks on this matter.

      • Madan Gopal das

        Good points Shyamasundara! I was surprised to hear that some in India have latched onto the idea that homosexuality can be cured. Sounds familiar; we have had numerous Christian fundamentalists over here who have promoted a similar idea and even tried sending their fallen comrades (research famous evangelist Ted Haggard) through intensive counseling to get the gay out of them! I haven’t heard of any “cure” being successful, but maybe if these Christians try some yoga and pranayama it may do them some good! Ha!

  3. What a bizarre belief system with so much ignorance, fear and hatred for homosexual people. Unfortunately there are millions of Indian religionists just like this man. How to best change all of their minds? Is the only solution education, or is a drastic change of heart required as well?

  4. Let him first cure “homosexuals”. Anyway what he may try may cure even “heterosexuality” or get rid of sex desire completely. There is no difference between these two kinds of sex desire in the sense there is no choice one can make in this regard, atleast in the present.

  5. Now the Sikhs ban homosexual unions stating that it is against their tradition. All religious people who are at loggerheads with each other on many issues are getting together on this particular issue. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Akal-Takht-bars-gay-marriages-in-gurdwaras/articleshow/4755390.cms

    So I guess homosexuals have to thanks atheists and secular humanism champions like richard dawkins than fundamentalist religious people. It is pretty unfortunate as it will drive most gay people towards agnosticism and atheism.

  6. Another one in this regard with a person opposing this ruling on the premise that in future people will want to legalize having sex with animals. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/SC-takes-up-petition-against-gay-sex/articleshow/4756794.cms

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      How out of touch and mean. How about sex as an expression of mutual love for a change? These people are so ignorant of the reality they deliberate upon.
      As far as HIV, that is also misleading propaganda. The virus is spread by having unprotected sex (among other things) with people who have contracted it already, no matter what their gender and sexual orientation.
      Do you want to stop promiscuity? Legalize gay marriage!

  7. Now this youtube video sheds light on people’s attitude to transgendered people if they are religious. Yet again these Christians say that by changing their sex people are offending God by claiming God made a mistake. Then tyra says that what about diseased children? And the Christian baptist girl says that has not done by God and her double standards are out. Hindus somehow use karma to justify birth defects,gay “defect” and have used karma to discriminate against people even in Satya yuga. I cannot get to terms with these facts and there is a reason why most of my friends who are transgendered,gays are Buddhists and atheists. And the perpetual question which is unsolved ” How can there be an all powerful and all good God who allows so much suffering?” This question makes me want to be an atheist with secular humanism disposition and atleast not discriminate against my fellow humans based on the fact that they are mlecchas or yavanas like me.

    • Which do you prefer, freedom however minute, which includes the possibility of bad choices and the subsequent reactions for them, or no freedom to choose but no suffering? I think that the question of evil and God does not stop believers from believing because there are too many other reasons for believing, and of course there is experience of God. And many Buddhists are religious and certainly believe in something more than the secular humanist is willing to admit. And their answer as to the reason for suffering in the world is not really much different from that of Vedantins: desire.

      There are also many Buddhists that are against homosexuality and many atheists as well. And there are many theists in all traditions who are not.

  8. But as a percentage you have to admit there are more atheists favorable to homosexuality than theists. Take a survey and get the results! In Europe where there are most number of atheists andhomosexuals have the best rights. Would you say the same for the Islamic world,hindu India, strong Christian countries like Poland? It does not hurt to admit that atheists are better than GV on this account. Does it?

    • I am no fan of fundamentalist religion of any kind including Gaudiya Vaisnava fundamentalism. I think they misrepresent what religion is about. So from my perspective you are comparing misrepresentations of religion to secular humanists. Amongst mystics you will find a much larger majority of open minded individuals on this topic. You will find some mystics who are not well informed on the subject who may speak out against homosexuality, but they have the ability and openness to change with new information, more so than fundamentalists. And then secular humanists can be very closed minded on other important subjects, such as the supernatural. And this the larger question. Is there anything supernatural? Is there an ultimate meaning to life? Is their a universal intelligence behind the wonder of nature, humanity, life? Or is their no purpose to life at all? If you are satisfied with the idea that life has no ultimate meaning, be done with religion and move on.

  9. But there maybe one mystic for one thousand fundamentalist even in GV,right?Why did not those who preached GV like Prabhupada and BSST realize that their preaching is fundamentalist and sectarian? Any person can easily see that. They needed to tone down their vitrolic remarks as it has and still creates fundamentalist disciples. I think it is better to have no religion than fundamentalist religion. So it is better to not preach if you just create fundamentalist people. Anybody who reads Prabhupada’s books exclusively without anything else is almost surely going to be as fanatic and fundamentalist as a Southern Baptist. I have never seen somebody who has just read Prabhupada’s books and is not fanatic. It is impossible because SP’s presentation is rigid and closed minded. Don’t you agree?
    So it is better to create one open-minded, flexible, reasonable disciple than thousands of sectarian, dogmatic disciples.

    • I think it is important to note that Prabhupada and Bhaktisiddhanta were not seen as fundamentalists in their time, at least I have not heard of such in any prominent way. To the contrary, they were very revolutionary, even in some spheres of social conduct, such as Prabhupada having women do so many services that were only done by men previously.

      What constitutes “fundamentalism” shifts over time and hence the need for parampara. It is simple in theory. As far as I am concerned anyone who “only reads Prabhupada’s books” is likely to be fanatical prior to their reading. And it is true that the majority of people in any group will always be black-and-white thinkers.

      But a devotee’s greatness is only relative to his or her devotion, which does not mean the power to control the material world and its inhabitants. What I mean is Prabhupada’s glory does not hinge on his disciples’ behavior. He had a service to do and he did so with flying colors. And of course he does have numerous disciples and followers who are not fanatical and stand as a testament to his depth. For example, are you fanatical? Because I would bet he made you a devotee too.

      • But prabhupada validates a fundamentalist person’s need for approval through his books. He does not satisfy an open-minded person’s needs in these books.

        • With regard to your fist point the same is true for persons like Dozen, and the list goes on. On the second point, as I mentioned, open minded persons t the tim were satisfied with his presentation. People from the Village, scholars, etc. Look at the academic endorsements he received. Is academia liberal? You are frozen in the present but not living in it in a dynamic sense by understanding it to be progression from the past. There are plenty of revolutionary and dynamic spiritual ideas found in Prabhupada’s books, representing as the do a kind of moon landing in the West of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Even the conservatism in his books at the time he wrote them played well into a 60’s liberality gone wild and destructive. Imagine a disillusioned hippie reading them after a bad trip.

          The current Harmonist front page article appears to be written by a broadminded person by 1944 standards, suggesting a transcendence of nationalism and a trans-political embrace of India’s essential mysticism described as the property—the inheritance—of every human being. The author is informed about world events and participating in the vital issues of the day from a spiritual perspective. He is humble and acknowledges truth in the words of secular leaders and those of varying religious traditions.

          • Why did he not write books in the same style as this article? Maybe his disciples did not have a need for this kind of open minded style and they needed a fundamentalist presentation.
            Academics in today’s time will never rate his work very highly.

            I think that you are the saving grace of Gaudiyas in this world and the unfortunate thing is your own godbrothers and your own family rejects you and blasphemes you. How pathetic!! A person who joins the Gaudiyas has to first deal with politics,etc in his own house before he can focus on spiritual life.

          • But the point is that academics in his day did appreciate and endorse them. Furthermore with regard to my point on guru parampara, my books are appreciated in academia today and thereby my guru is also appreciated. It’s about time and eternity and how they mix.

    • Alan,

      You are reading Prabhupada’s books 40 years after they were written, 40 years many of which are computer and internet years. You need to understand them in essence in light of our times. This is the whole idea of guru parampara. The successive guru in the line will speak and write about the essential philosophy differently than his or her predecessor. Issues that alarm us now did not alarm people in the same way 40 years ago. No one wrote ‘he or she;” homosexuals did not even understand themselves. When Prabhupada came to the US artists and poets from the Greenwhich—”The Village—were joining him.

      Things are no different elsewhere. Read Abraham Lincoln today and you will consider him deeply racist. He presided over a national fratricidal war for the liberation of the Negro but never thought tht the blacks should be allowed to hold office in the Union, etc. Thus we have to see great people for the great things they did and understand them in terms of the time and culture in which they appeared which will inevitably filter into their message.

      Look at Buddhist Master Dogen and you will cry racist, sexist, sectarian, etc. But look again and you will see thousands of Western Buddhist reading his books and following his sense of Zen. They also have to deal with these same issues, to look past them and to the depth of which their master has experienced and spoke of.

      And again, this is the whole idea of guru parampara. If you want to understand Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya in essence, you need to follow them in guru parampara. Follow someone who represents him and Sri Caitanya essentially in the context of our times. Now there may also be misrepresentations or partial representations of guru parampara out and about, but look and you will find representation that corresponds with your inner necessity.

      What are we to make of the sectarian Dogen? The parochial Dogen? The intolerant Dogen? These are attitudes that shadow words like “genuine,” “true,” and “correct.” When Dogen says that zazen alone is the authentic gate to the Buddha-dharma, it is clear that he means that quite literally. He is saying that the zazen that was transmitted to him—and no other form of meditation or other practice—is the only way to practice true Buddhism.
      It is hard to reconcile this narrow-minded Dogen with the Dogen of breathtaking religious genius. The latter speaks to and evokes our finest intuitions; the former expresses views that run directly counter to our best and most complete cosmopolitan sensibilities.
      One can point out that Dogen’s sectarianism was hardly unique to him. He was the product of a highly structured, hierarchical society, in which authority was a function of position as sanctioned by tradition. Further, it is always a problem to view the past through the lens of the present. To find meaning in writings from the past, even the recent past, there is much—bigotry, superstition, false assumptions, provincial attitudes—that we simply must read past. Dogen is no exception. Still, that is rather cold comfort.
      Reading past Dogen’s claim that there is but one true way—for we know that, as a literal statement, it simply doesn’t hold up—we are still left to ponder the spiritual meaning of such a statement. And for me, notwithstanding the necessity of rejecting its literal meaning, there is a spiritual meaning that is undiminished.
      Dogen is expressing the Buddha Way as it revealed itself in his life-practice. The universality of his wisdom derives from—is inseparable from—the particular circumstances in which it is rooted. The universal and particular constitute a wholeness, and I think it is the wholeness of life—whether it is Dogen’s life or my life or your life—that he spoke of as being realized and actualized in zazen, and that zazen excludes nothing. It is from his deepest sense of things that he speaks, and it is in our deepest sense of things that we find him.

      • Who gave a better understanding of homosexuals: science in the hands of secular humanists and not religion,right?

        • Perhaps, but it has only been in recent years that homosexuals began to speak out from their perspective and to stop viewing themselves from a heterosexual perspective. They have used science to their advantage as well as essential religious themes such as compassion. Secular as well as religious people thought homosexuality was wrong and some still do.

  10. I must thank you for letting me express my frustration of being with closed minded religious people for 25 years now. If I expressed these things in most Gaudiya insitutions like ISKCON, people won’t even hear me and take swords to kill me. Don’t you think that Gaudiya cannot digest the truth that they are closed minded fanatics and that fanaticism stems from exclusively reading Prabhupada’s books and taking all his words literally?

    • You are welcome. If I thought that Gauidya Vaisnavas could not digest the truth of their fundamentalist interpretations and that these interpretations are often tied to a literal take on Srila Prabhupada’s time and place presentation, as opposed to an essential one, I would not be involved in this website. But I admit that it can be frustrating. Meanwhile I still have to convince you that God exists! I could use some help.

  11. Thanks for your comments,open-mindedness and your great sensitivity to these issues. You are doing more service to your guru than the so called loyal disciples. In the name of loyalty, they do more damage and the should be stopped from preaching and causing more discomfort to people through their regurgitation of literalisms.

    With regard to your second point, I think I am a superficial believer and for me to believe strongly I needed to be fanatic. I was a fanatic before and fanaticism gives one great strength to be a believer. Now I am in no man’s land after finding that my fanatic following of Prabhupada made me an insular,dogmatic and unreasonable person. But from your perspective,maybe, I have regressed in my spiritual life. In the past I used to hate atheists and think that I am a believer but it was all the strength of fanaticism, not genuine belief. When my faith is challenged, I saw that I was not fearless like prahlada. On a lighter vein, I would speak about an incident. A rat was underneath my bed and I could not sleep thinking that it will bite me and I will need to be rabies injections! I don’t trust that God will protect me all the time! I find it confusing to understand why even mystics(Prabhupada or Ramanuja) sometimes do run away if somebody is trying to kill them. I have never seen a person like Prahlada who enjoys being in snake pits and can see vasudeva in these snakes. Similarly I have never seen Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taming tigers and leopards and making them chant. So it is hard for me to believe these things. Everything is following the naturalism of science, I don’t see the supernatural. Why are people wanting to see mystics? They want to see somebody who can defy the natural laws of science and show that supernatural exists. But whenever mystics have been under media scrutiny their hollow claims have been exposed. Seeing these exposes,therefore it will be reasonable to conclude all mystic or supernatural stories about Chaitanya mahaprabhu or krsna are just hallucinations. I want some mystic stories from puranas live in action to have faith in them.
    If some devotee can show tigers and cows embracing each other and chanting hare krsna, the whole world will take to the Gaudiyas. Instead I see gaudiyas slugging mud at each other and fighting with each other. Do you really think it is possible to enjoy being in snake pits and embrace the snakes thinking them to be a part to Krsna? Only after I get that kind of genuine vision-vasudeva sarvam iti can I say that I believe in God. Till then my claims of being a believer are useless.

    • But how do you address my issues which I listed in the above post?

      • Well I tend to agree with your conjecture about it to some extent. You will find some of this writing style in his first canto edition. Whatever the strategy it obviously worked then, but new approaches are needed today. Then and now. One and different.

        • I was refering to my comments about my superficial belief in the above post which go like this With regard to your second point, I think I am a superficial believer …..

    • Vrajendra Nandana Dasa

      Dear Allan,

      I sympathize a lot with you. You are honest and thoughtful. And I think I know the kinds of doubts you have from my own experience.

      Do you want to know my understanding and experience in this regard?

      If your answer is yes, please kindly read the following:

      I don’t know either, if the stories of the Bhagavatam or the stories of Gaura Lila really happened, as I do not know in regard to Jesus’ or others saints’ miracles.

      But I do believe that such miracles can happen.

      Why? Because there are so many miracles already going on every day. The fact that we do not recognize them as such is because we are used to them. We grew up with them.

      But if we think about it, isn’t it actually a miracle what human beings can do? Besides all the inventions which no one would believe possible 150 years ago, or even 20 years ago (e.g. cellphones), there are so many areas humans can become a master at, which you hardly cannot really explain properly. Isn’t it a miracle that we can walk, without thinking about it? We can be completely absend in our mind and still be walking around obstacles and through traffic without falling or getting hit constantly, without given one split of a second conscious attention to our legs. They walk by themselves!

      Or isn’t it a miracle that we can learn to type very fast, without looking at the keybord at all? How does this really work? (Well, I am not so fast, but I know some who are extremely fast.) Or isn’t it a miracle what sportspeople can do, like hitting very fast small balls (table tennis) almost exactly where they want them to be?

      Or think about circus performers, or artists (who paint pictures that look like photos). Ok, all these people trained a lot. But still. Why can we do things, which in the beginning appear impossible to us? Like learning to ride a bicycle. We tried and tried and tried, and all of a sudden, it worked. How? Why? I have no idea. Somehing allowed it to happen.

      And isn’t it a miracle that from a small sperm (and egg) a whole human being develops, which after some time has everyting that the parents have: Arms, legs, head, heart etc. And everything is working (usually). From a minute cell this complex body developed, which could also produce other (at least physically) functioning humans. That is impossible. But yet it happens constantly.

      Probably we could go on and on describing all the daily miracles that happen.

      Once I played basketball in school, which we rarely do in Germany. At least in the schools I attended. And I never played basketball privately. Only soccer, of course. So one particular day, our coach in school decided we should play basketball. And I am really not good at it. But on that day everything was different. Something entered me and I almost scored with every single shot. We didn’t play long. Maybe 15 minutes or so. But whatever I tried in this short period of time, it worked. I felt so confident, it was mystical. My classmates where looking at me in disbelief. One called me Magic Zölke (my surname) hinting at Magic Johnson. In the end my team won 28 to 16 (something like this) and I scored 26 of the points. Did this ever happen again? Unfortunately not. Do I have any idea how this happened? No. But it did happen. And it seems that some humorous force wanted it to happen.

      Nowadays I experience the divine through so many sometimes weird and funny coincidences, that are hard to explain away with chance or the result of impersonal laws.

      Ok, I still have my doubts. I am not like Prahlad Maharaja either. But it doesn’t appear impossible to me that such states of consiousness or God realization exist.

      And proofs, beyond of what I descibed above? Proof of Krsna lila? I can’t proof it. But I think first comes believe and faith, then realization. Whatever great or astonishing feats humans accomplished in the past, happend because somebody believed it is possible. Despite so much contrary experience. And despite so much opposition. We may have to invest some faith, before we gain the corresponding experience. But what can we loose?

      But again, I know it is hard at times. And then we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves if we loose faith from time to time. But I think we will never loose the attraction to that sweet bluish person that some say plays a sweet tune on his flute, walking along the shore of the beautiful Yamuna River and drives everybody mad with his love; the same person who might have been involved, maybe indirectly, 22 years ago, when one unknown guy was Magic Johnson for 15 minutes.

      And that flute playing boy will never let us of the hook, I believe.

      He will play his flute again and again. And one fine day we will listen.

    • Wow that is a brilliant explanation of things. I too have suffered from this sort of Prabhupada fanaticism but for some reason I still find a certain unexplainable potency in Prabhupada’s books. Ever since I have read the story of Jada Bharata I have not had much interest in reading any other Vedic literature and when I do occasionally read Vedic literature that is the story I read because it is so classic. Jada Bharata doesn’t want to become the perfect brahmana he only wants devotional service that just simplifies all of these contradictions and endless philsophical debates, guru wars of GV. Maharaja Bharata, Lord Rsabadheva and Jada Bharata are simply the best stories in all of Vedic literature in my opinion.

      I can definetly relate to what you are saying as I originally wanted to believe in the magic of the Vedas because I was bored to death with science and wanted to escape to the supernatural as the mundane was just plain boring. But now I find myself going back to science and psychology because I just do not see the magic of the Vedas manifested anywhere on this planet. GV is just constant bickering that makes the bickering and struggle of material life seem like a cakewalk. So I am finding a refuge in psychology and have been reading the book Political Ponerology that has given me a whole new perspective on what the mind set of the politicians is and how peope react under the psychopathy of the modern politicians.

    • I was looking for your reaction to my post “just” above about my superficial faith. This was in response to your question about building my faith in God.

  12. Hare Krsna! To express my own feelings and experience on this topic, I am very optimistic that Gaudiya Vaishnavas, and indeed people of all faiths, are gradually coming around to understand and accept homosexual people. It is a natural progress, not only of religion but for humanity at large.

    What normally takes centuries has now been expedited by the Computer Age. In my own lifetime I’ve seen incredible progress. When I was born, in 1957, homosexuality was illegal in all 48 US states. Now just see how much things have changed! Similarly, when I first began working with GALVA, in 2001, it was generally accepted among devotees that all homosexuals are demonic by nature with no recourse other than to follow lifelong celibacy. Now many senior devotees are questioning such ideas and quite a few no longer believe them at all. While Tripurari Swami has always had the more reasonable insight, I’ve seen quite a few of my Godbrothers and Godsisters change completely or at least begin to make progress. So I am very optimistic and hopeful.

    Srila Prabhupada once said we shouldn’t be surprised if most people in prison are criminals. Similarly, we shouldn’t be surprised if most of the religionists found in this material world are polluted with impure thoughts and ideas. It is all a part of the cleansing and learning process. In regard to Srila Prabhupada’s own teachings on homosexuality, yes, there are a lot of negative statements but also a lot of positive examples as well. Flys may swarm over the negative statements but honeybees will make good use of all the positive examples.

    • http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/sex/columns/nakedcity/n_8301/ The article here one was one of the most interesting article I have read on this topic as it talks about hasbians, people who keep on switching their sexual preferences. These people who just experiment with different sexual preferences perhaps are bisexual but are not trusted by either hetero or homosexual communities. When they become ex-lesbians lesbians hate them.

      So, perhaps there are some people who willingly experiment with same sex partners(they maybe bisexuals); because of these people, the common public can misunderstand homosexuals, thinking that it is not a static preference and can be altered.

      • Yes, exactly! In my experience such people are bisexual, and bisexuality (in all its degrees) is in fact the most common type of gender variation found in both humans and animals. Not everyone is completely heterosexual or completely homosexual. Many people experience both types of attraction since sexuality falls along a spectrum. Most scientists put the human ratio of sexual orientation at approximately 80-15-5 (heterosexual/bisexual/homosexual percentages). Many animals have similar or even significantly different ratios. Silver Gulls, for instance, are estimated to have ratios of 79-11-10 while Galah Cockatoos have 44-11-44.

        Given that there are at least three times as many bisexual as homosexual people, it is easy to see how sexually- or socially-ignorant societies could confuse or fail to differentiate between the two. I have detailed this entire issue in my book, “Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex,” in a chapter entitled “Bisexuality Versus Homosexuality.” These two sexual orientations found in nature are entirely different and require separate approaches when dealing with them.

        • So would you suggest bisexual devotees to stick to the opposite sex?

          • No, that is their own personal decision! Some bisexuals are equally attracted to both sexes, some are more attracted to the opposite sex, some are more attracted to the same sex, and some fluctuate back and forth over time. So it is a very personal decision for any bisexual to pick one partner to be faithful to in a monogamous marriage. Often it is recommended for a bisexual to marry another bisexual, and often it is simply easier to marry the opposite sex in terms of social acceptance. But we can’t help who we fall in love with and ultimately, that partner which is most satisfying in terms of sharing long-term love and cultivating devotional service together is the best.

          • But I am pretty surprised that trangendered women don’t like marrying trangendered men. Why is that? Is it better for transgendered people also to marry their kind?

          • Yet again it has been proven that “atheistic” science attacked by devotees has helped homosexuals to understand themselves better than so called religious people.

  13. In regards to homosexuality I can understand wanting to help homosexuals understand themselves and that is noble but I do not always agree that people are homophobic just because they view homosexuality as being inherently ridiculous from an anatomical perspective and do not necessarily agree with the agenda of homosexuals that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage where there is anatomically the possibitly of begetting a child.

  14. “Homophobia” specifically refers to having a fear of homosexuality or homosexual people. This is displayed when people are fearful or extremely uncomfortable being around homosexuals, having their children around homosexuals, and so on. It is usually based on the false premise that homosexuality is somehow contagious and homosexual people will approach anyone for sex. Another common attitude is “heterosexism,” or the idea that only heterosexuality is natural, God-given and desirable. According to this paradigm, homosexuality is unnatural, undesirable and ultimately not part of God’s creation. Other attitudes include disgust (not being able to understand or relate to same-sex attraction, romantic feelings, intimacy, etc.), contempt (considering homosexuals as “lower,” especially sinful, unworthy of recognition, etc.) and simple unfamiliarity.

    In terms of judging marriages, this is best done by the quality of the marriage itself, not the particular body-type of the couple. For instance, a gay couple carefully executing their sadhana, following celibacy, remaining committed and lovingly raising an adopted child would obviously be superior to a heterosexual couple that neglects their sadhana, has unregulated sex, cheats on one another, and has five children but raises them horribly. Ultimately it is the love and nourishment of bhakti that is most important in any relationship, not the body-type of the couple or how many children they bear.

  15. Alan said:

    Yet again it has been proven that “atheistic” science attacked by devotees has helped homosexuals to understand themselves better than so called religious people.

    But devotees reject atheistic scientific conclusions, not science itself. Everyone does science on some level and we all live with and appreciate many of science’s insights. Science is about objectivity, as is Vedanta only more so.

    I will try to get to your other questions in a bit.

    • Oh most devotees I met portray scientists as demoniac people even though they use all the facilities provided by science. To me this seems hypocritical. Anyway I found your approach balanced and I will be waiting for your answers on my other points.

      • And many scientist portray all religious people as lunatics, even though they have benefited from centuries of religious history. How have they benefited? Arguably the history of humanity reveals that humanity’s initial moral compass has come from religious thinkers. While it is true that morality is not dependent upon religion, this is said after morality has been engrained in the human psyche by religious insight. Would humanity be guided by a sense of morality today if this had not been the case, and if not, where would we be? Of course no one can answer these questions definitively, but I think that it is undeniable that human society has benefited immensely from religious insight, even while this insight has also often left us with a static and sometimes counterproductive notion of morality. Although such is only the misunderstanding of religion. And if my argument here is not defensible, I would still maintain that humanity at large has benefited more from religious thinkers than not, and possibly more from them than from science.

        The plight of homosexuals is not really a religious one and their savior is not science any more than it is the compassion that is not born in the laboratory. And reason, which has helped, is not the exclusive property of science.

        So in my opinion you err on the side of scientific fanaticism in your criticisms of religion. They are based upon a superficial understanding both science and religion, which as you mentioned you are prone to.

        Religion is about miracles only as much as it is about love. In love the impossible becomes possible, and we see this every day. You have to look more deeply at core tenets of spiritual insight and that of science as well, and there you will find common ground.

        • I agree that my understanding is superficial. I would appreciate if you could answer particular points which I raised in my post. It is just for your reference to which portion of the post I am referring to.

          I have never seen a person like Prahlada who enjoys being in snake pits and can see vasudeva in these snakes. Similarly I have never seen Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taming tigers and leopards and making them chant. So it is hard for me to believe these things. Everything is following the naturalism of science, I don’t see the supernatural. Why are people wanting to see mystics? They want to see somebody who can defy the natural laws of science and show that supernatural exists. But whenever mystics have been under media scrutiny their hollow claims have been exposed. Seeing these exposes,therefore it will be reasonable to conclude all mystic or supernatural stories about Chaitanya mahaprabhu or krsna are just hallucinations. I want some mystic stories from puranas live in action to have faith in them.
          If some devotee can show tigers and cows embracing each other and chanting hare krsna, the whole world will take to the Gaudiyas. Instead I see gaudiyas slugging mud at each other and fighting with each other. Do you really think it is possible to enjoy being in snake pits and embrace the snakes thinking them to be a part to Krsna?

          • The real mystery of spiritual culture is its capacity to awaken love. Stories like those of Prahlada and Sri Caitnaya may be true or they may have been told to illustrate a point: that through genuine spiritual practice the environment will be experienced as friendly. It is we who are fighting against the environment. We are striving to live in terms of our bodily identification and this is done at the cost of the well being of others. We are killing to live, but spiritual life is about killing the killing and taking tendency within us, undergoing an ego death in order to live a life of giving and love. Theoretically at least this holds the prospect of taming wild beasts. Why not? You may not have seen it, but then again you may be a wild beast in need of being tamed first yourself. Think about it. Would it not be a miracle if your passions would subside, your greed would be disappear, your envy and enmity toward others, some of whom may even be your well wishers, would come to an end? This is what spiritual practice is about to begin with, and with such miracles behind you what magic lies ahead. The wonders never cease.

          • thanks for your reply. But the point remains if I see the environment as friendly will I stop criticizing religious fundamentalism? Should the gay devotees see the environmental friendly when they are discriminated against and accept exploitation? Should women who are abused accept their abuse and see it as a friendly environment? Should we all shut ourselves down to the exploitation of earth by humans and see it as a friendly event? I don’t know whether any devotees are there in such a state and I don’t know how I can see it like that. Do you see the world and people who criticize you as friendly,especially fanatic godbrothers, in spite of your great preaching efforts? If yes I will surrender unto you. Devotees criticize the whole world and do not see anything friendly in the material world.

          • Well I have certainly learned a lot form those who criticize me and oppose me. Were it not for them I can definitely say that I would not be who I am today. Of course I will continue to constructively criticize those that misrepresent religion, those that promote bigotry, and so on. The world is not a nice place but it is a good teacher of half of the equation of enlightenment: a good example of what enlightenment is not.

            So to see the environment as friendly—as one’s teacher—does not mean that one must cease from speaking out against injustice, which at its root comes from the misconception spiritual life seeks to address. Did Prahlada or Sri Caitanya cease from critiquing the world in the name of seeing the environment as friendly? No they did not.

            But I am not accepting any students at this time.

  16. Thank you. I hope you accept more students in the future. Prahlada was always wishing well for his father even though he wanted to kill him and he was seeing God in all the dangerous creatures and was not feeling threatened by them. He is not fighting much; he is accepting every situation as positive.

  17. swami bv tripurari wrote:

    I am not accepting any students at this time.

    To whom, then, would you direct a student who values your siksa and who seeks a diksa relationship that will harmonize with your siksa?

  18. Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include almost all significant infos. I’d like to see more posts like this .

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