Dalai Lama and gays (Re: Tibet

Nathan Newman nnewman at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jul 3 06:09:27 PDT 1998

-----Original Message----- From: Jim heartfield <Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>

>The surprise amongst many Western admirers of the Dalai Lama when he let
>slip his hostility to homosexuality spoke volumes. To the Lama's
>admirers in the West it seems odd that a religion that is so unmacho and
>sensitive should frown of homosexuality.

Actually, the Dalai Lama's response to this controversy just highlights why he is so popular with much of the progressive community. Despite traditional Buddhist doctrine against homosexuality (like most religions), the Dalai Lama was quite willing to engage with critics of his position. When he visited San Francisco last year, he met with a range of gay activists. Here is what the San Francisco Chronicle reported about the meeting:

"Gay Buddhists and human rights activists emerged from a private meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday and said they were heartened by the Tibetan leader's willingness to re-examine traditional Buddhist teachings on homosexuality...Herzer and others at the meeting said the Dalai Lama agreed to further discussions on whether traditional Buddhist sexual prohibitions ``may be specific to a particular cultural and historical context"... In a prepared statement, the official spokesman for the Dalai Lama said the Tibetan spiritual leader looks forward to ``further study and discussion on human sexuality. ``His Holiness was greatly concerned by reports made available to him regarding violence and discrimination against gay and lesbian people,'' said Dawa Tsering of the Office of Tibet in New York. ``His Holiness opposes violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation,'' Tsering said."

Frankly, such openness to discussion of doctrine and political support for gay rights (if not spiritual approval) would be a large step forward for most "advanced" civilizations, including, I suspect, modern China. - -Nathan Newman

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