A leading Buddhist religious master spoke at the White House yesterday about his philosophy of compassion, love and respect regardless of someone’s gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The National Security Council hosted a roundtable with His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual leader of over 30 million Buddhists in the Himalayas. HRC, along with the Council on Global Equality and Live to Love International, also joined the roundtable discussion.
In the discussion, The Drukpa said that Buddhism is based on turning faith into action. He expressed grave sorrow at the negative treatment meted out to LGBT people around the world and noted that he has taken a principled stand that LGBT people are entitled to full human rights.
The Drukpa was one of the first religious leaders in India to call on the government to scrap Section 377, which criminalizes sodomy. The Drukpa did this despite the fact that LGBT issues are considered taboo or "sensitive" to varying degrees throughout Asia. He has since faced criticism and threats from those who are unhappy about his stance.
The Drukpa also noted that for many centuries, sacred Mahayana Buddhist art objects such as statues and paintings have depicted same-sex love and affection and that loving fellow human beings, regardless of their gender, is acceptable.
In addition to calling for acceptance and compassion for LGBT people, the Drukpa highlighted the work his office has done on behalf of South Asian women who face an environment that is often hostile and unsupportive of their professional aspirations and personal freedoms.
The Drukpa's followers are based throughout Asia, North America, Europe and Latin America. In addition to the White House meeting, he will be meeting with congressional leaders and supporters in New York City and elsewhere on this visit.
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