ROLE OF RELIGION IN CREATING AND PERPETUATING HOMOPHOBIA, JAN BRIDGET

CURRENT VIEWS

* Religions uphold the heterosexual family and the sanctity of marriage.

* Debate in Church of England about homosexuality - concluded homosexuality isn't wrong but that homosexual relationships are: 1987 General Synod stated that "sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship." It then said that "homosexual genital acts ... fall short of this ideal" and that homosexuals should be treated with kindness but expected to repent of their behaviour.

* Catholic Church: 1975 "homosexual acts are disordered and can in no case be approved of." 1986 Pope said we were "disordered in our nature and evil in our love." 1992, Vatican said homosexuality is an "Objective disorder." February 1994, the Vatican attacks European Parliament's call for lesbian and gay couple to marry and branded homosexuality as "an aberrant deviation."

* Former chief rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, said he would urge Jews to undergo voluntary genetic engineering to remove homosexual tendencies if this becomes scientifically possible.

* Active abuse - i.e. some fundamentalist religions, 'exorcise' homosexuality.

* Majority of churches, with a few exceptions (e.g. United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Reconstructionist Judaism) are closed to practising homosexuals.

* In some Islamic states homosexuals are put to death.

* 1993: U.S.A. survey of 20,000 Episcopalians found 70% say homosexuality is compatible with a faithful Christian life.

* 1993 Methodist Church Conference accepted the following proposal by 313 votes to 217: "Conference recognizes, affirms and celebrates the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the church. Conference calls on the Methodist people to begin a pilgrimage of faith to combat repression and discrimination, to work for justice and human rights and to give dignity and worth to people whatever their sexuality."

* 1993, the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, sent the following message of support to Lesbian Information Service on the publication of our Working with Lesbian and Gay Youth Resource List: "I congratulate the Lesbian Information Service on producing this very professional and informative resource list. Its introduction provides a very clear statement of the needs of Lesbian and Gay Youth. In my opinion this material could be of the greatest use in overcoming the prejudices and difficulties so many of us share. It should help us to be both more realistic and more practically compassionate."

PRE 1150 AD

* Ralph, archbishop of Tours had his lover John installed as bishop of Orleans with the full knowledge and agreement of the King of France and the Pope.

* St Aelred, Abbot of the Cisterian monastery at Rievaulx (Yorkshire) elevated passionate frienship between males to its highest level.

* In liturgies (words used in worship) dating from the 9th and 10th centuries in the Greek Orthodox Church there is a service for two monks which uses aspects of the traditional marriage service.

* Greek writings from around the time of the birth of Christ refer to same sex relationships.

* Many Hindu temples have sculpture depicting erotic same-sex couplings, both male and female.

* Babut, founder of Mughal Empire, had young male lovers which was common among Mughal people.

* With the advent of the Abbasid Caliphat (Muslim faith) in the mid 8th century find poets writing homoerotic verse to beautiful youths.

POST 1150 AD

* 1150-1300 Europe witnessed a dramatic rise in the intolerance of many minorities: Jews, Muslims, and heretical Christians, as well as homosexuals. Sanctions were imposed on all of these groups. Many Europeans began to identify homosexuality with Muslims and heretics.

* Islam continued on with traditional attitudes around homosexuality expressed in Judaism and Christianity.

* Over time Muslim religious writings became more punitive towards homosexuals.

* Specific law against homosexuality (not lesbianism) brought into Indian Penal Code by British in 1857.

* In various Native American tribes there were special, religious, designations for male and female homosexuals (in some tribes they are called Berdache). When the Europeans ravaged America and killed thousands of Native Americans, it was usually the religious leaders who were the first to be murdered.

RELIGIOUS PASSAGES

* Bible: six passages have been identified as denouncing homosexuality. However:

- There are different interpretations.

- Sodom & Gomorroh: as well as condemning homosexuality it condones the rape of Lot's virgin daughters and sexual intercourse between Lot and his two daughters in order to perpetuate their line.

- Leviticus: man should not lie with man as a woman, it is an abomination. Leviticus does not mention Lesbians. Leviticus has numerous laws which are not enforced today, for example, men shoud not shave nor cut their hair, you should not wear a garment that consists of both wool and linen; divorced persons who remarry should be killed and so on.

- St Paul and other passages also condemn fornication. Fornication is sexual intercourse between men and women for pleasure outside of marriage.

* Koran does not describe specific penalties for homosexuality.

* The Hadith reserved legal shedding of Muslim blood for three offences: adultery, homicide and denial of faith (precluding any corporal punishment for homosexuals).

Sources: Khush, A Shakti Report, Shivananda Khan, 1993.

Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, John boswell, 1930.

Christianity and homosexuality, a resource for students, Sue Vickerman, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, 1992.

Sexuality and Gender in Certain Native American Tribes: The Case of Cross-Gender Females, Evelyn Blackwood, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1984, Vol 10(1), p27-42

© J.Bridget/Lesbian Information Service, 1996