Post submitted by Noah Montague, Global Engagement Intern.
The Dalai Lama publicly voiced his support for marriage equality, calling it “OK” during an online interview with Larry King, while condemning bullying and homophobia as plain and simply “wrong” and a violation of human rights.
The statement by the Dalai Lama marks a very notable step forward for LGBT rights worldwide, especially at a critical time when homophobia and discrimination of LGBT people are increasing in many parts of the world.
The Dalai Lama also threw his moral weight behind marriage equality after he was questioned by Larry King about a variety of subjects, including same-sex marriage. In response to questions about whether or not he personally supports marriage equality, the Dalai Lama responded, “I think [it's] OK! I think that’s an individual’s business. If two people… really feel that way, it’s more practical, satisfaction, and both sides fully agree, then OK!”
The Dalai Lama’s remarks come as his first public support of marriage equality for all individuals.
But his message was mixed as he drew a distinction between believers and non-believers, implying that people of faith should still follow their own faith traditions' rules on sexual conduct. “But then for a non-believer, that is up to them. So there are different forms of sex - so long (as it is) safe, OK, and (if both people) fully agree, OK," the Dalai Lama said.
All the world’s major religions emphasis love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness. People of faith strive to live out to the higher ideals and values of their faiths, but speaking out against injustice and inequality is a mandate of all faith traditions too and LGBT people of faith have a moral responsibility to question them. However, the real debate over the freedom to marry is solely about the right to enter into a legal contract which is recognized by the government where the law protects civil rights and religious freedom. In the U.S., a marriage is only legal with the signing of a civil marriage license.
The Dalai Lama is considered the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism, which has traditionally been based on principles of morality and personal responsibility, has been relatively unclear on its stances towards the LGBT issues.
For additional information on Buddhism, be sure to check out HRC’s Religion and Faith program and resources, including Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues:Buddhism.