Homosexuality and religion
The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and denominations, and regarding different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Present day doctrines of the world's major religions vary vastly generally and by denomination on attitudes toward these sexual orientations.
Among those denominations that generally are negative towards these orientations, there are many different types of actions they may take: this can range from quietly discouraging homosexual activity, explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality, to execution. Religious fundamentalism has been found to correlate positively with anti-homosexual bias. Many argue that it is homosexual actions which are sinful, rather than the state of being homosexual itself. To this end, some discourage labeling individuals according to sexual orientation. Several organizations exist that assert that conversion therapy can help diminish same-sex attraction.
However, some adherents of many religions view the two sexual orientations positively, and some religious denominations may bless same-sex marriages and support LGBT rights, and the amount of those that do are continuously increasing around the world as much of the developed world enacts laws supporting LGBT rights.
Historically, some cultures and religions accommodated, institutionalized, or revered, same-sex love and sexuality; such mythologies and traditions can be found around the world. For example, Hinduism does not view homosexuality as a religious sin. In 2009, the Hindu Council UK became one of the first major religious organizations to support LGBT rights when they issued a statement "Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality".
Regardless of their position on homosexuality, many people of faith look to both sacred texts and tradition for guidance on this issue. However, the authority of various traditions or scriptural passages and the correctness of translations and interpretations are continually disputed.
- 1 Views of specific religious groups
- 1.1 Abrahamic religions
- 1.2 Indian religions
- 1.3 Zoroastrianism
- 1.4 East Asian religions
- 1.5 Paganism
- 1.6 Neopagan religion
- 1.7 Satanism
- 1.8 Unitarian Universalism
- 1.9 Humanism
- 2 Queer religions
- 3 Religious groups and public policy
- 4 See also
- 5 General references
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Views of specific religious groups
The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have traditionally forbidden sodomy, believing and teaching that such behavior is sinful. Today some denominations within these religions are accepting of homosexuality and inclusive of homosexual people, such as Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church. Some Presbyterian and Anglican churches welcome members regardless of same-sex sexual practices, with some provinces allowing for the ordination and inclusion of gay and lesbian clerics, and affirmation of same-sex unions. Reform Judaism incorporates lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex marriage liturgies, while Reconstructionist Judaism and Conservative Judaism in the USA allows for lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex unions.
The Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) is the primary source for Jewish views on homosexuality. It states that: "[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is a תועבה toeba ("abomination")" (Leviticus 18:22). (Like many similar commandments, the stated punishment for willful violation is the death penalty, although in practice rabbinic Judaism no longer believes it has the authority to implement death penalties.)
Orthodox Judaism views homosexual acts as sinful. In recent years, there has been approaches claiming only the sexual anal act is forbidden and considered abomination by the Torah, while the sexual orientation and even other sexual activities are not considered a sin. Conservative Judaism has engaged in an in-depth study of homosexuality since the 1990s with various rabbis presenting a wide array of responsa (papers with legal arguments) for communal consideration. The official position of the movement is to welcome homosexual Jews into their synagogues, and also campaign against any discrimination in civil law and public society, but also to uphold a ban on anal sex as a religious requirement.
Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism in North America and Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom view homosexuality to be acceptable on the same basis as heterosexuality. Progressive Jewish authorities believe either that traditional laws against homosexuality are no longer binding or that they are subject to changes that reflect a new understanding of human sexuality. Some of these authorities rely on modern biblical scholarship suggesting that the prohibition in the Torah was intended to ban coercive or ritualized homosexual sex, such as those practices ascribed to Egyptian and Canaanite fertility cults and temple prostitution.
Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issue of homosexual activity, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. Most Christian denominations welcome people attracted to the same sex, but teach that homosexual acts are sinful. These denominations include the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox church, Confessional Lutheran denominations such as the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod  and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the United Methodist Church, and some other mainline denominations, such as the Reformed Church in America and the American Baptist Church, as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance, and fundamentalist groups and churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention. Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God, as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual sexual activity is sinful.
Liberal Christians are supportive of homosexuals. Some Christian denominations do not view monogamous same sex relationships as bad or evil. These include the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran, reformed and united churches in Evangelical Church of Germany, the Church of Denmark, the Icelandic Church, the Church of Norway or the Protestant Church of the Netherlands. In particular, the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination of 40,000 members, was founded specifically to serve the Christian LGBT community, and is devoted to being open and affirming to LGBT people. The United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists also condone gay marriage, and some parts of the Anglican and Lutheran churches allow for the blessing of gay unions. Within the Anglican communion there are openly gay clergy; for example, Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool are openly homosexual bishops in the US Episcopal Church and Eva Brunne in Lutheran Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church's recent actions vis-a-vis homosexuality have brought about increased ethical debate and tension within the Church of England and worldwide Anglican churches.
Passages from the Mosaic Covenant and its broader Old Testament context have been interpreted to mean that anyone engaging in homosexual practices should be punished with death (Leviticus 20:13; cf. Genesis 19:4-25; Judges 19:22-20:48; 2 Peter 2:6-10; Jude 7). AIDS has also been portrayed by some fundamentalist sects such as Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell as a punishment by God against homosexuals. In the 20th century, theologians like Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, Hans Küng, John Robinson, Bishop David Jenkins, Don Cupitt, Bishop Jack Spong challenged traditional theological positions and understandings of the Bible; following these developments some have suggested that passages have been mistranslated, are taken out of context, or that they do not refer to what we understand as "homosexuality."
Conservative denominations generally oppose same-sex sexual relations based on Old Testament and New Testament texts that describe human sexual relations as strictly heterosexual by God's design (Genesis 2:18-24; 1:26-28; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:1–40; Ephesians 5:22–33), which God declared "very good" (Genesis 1:26-31). As such, it is argued that sexual desires and actions that contradict God's design are deemed sinful and are condemned by God (e.g. "and with a male you [singular masculine] shall not lie [sexually] as with a female, that is an abomination," Leviticus 18:22; cf. Leviticus 20:13). Since love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:6), and since homosexual desires and actions are believed to remain contrary to God's design and condemned by God as sinful / iniquity (e.g. in general, Romans 1:26-27; passively, 1 Corinthians 6:9; actively, including but not limited to pederasty, 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; considered sexually immoral, Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5–7; Ephesians 5:3), adherents of conservative denominations believe that genuine love for God and humanity is best expressed by following God rather than the world (Acts 5:29; cf. Jeremiah 23:1–40; Romans 12:9).
Where the Catholic view is founded on a natural law argument informed by scripture and proposed by Thomas Aquinas, the traditional conservative Protestant view is based on an interpretation of scripture alone. Protestant conservatives also see homosexual relationships as an impediment to heterosexual relationships. They interpret some Biblical passages to be commandments to be heterosexually married. Catholics, on the other hand, have accommodated unmarried people as priests, monks, nuns and single lay people for over a thousand years. A number of self-described gay and 'ex-gay' Christians have reported satisfaction in mixed-orientation marriages.
The Catholic Church insists that those who are attracted to people of the same sex as well as anyone who is not married practice chastity. The Catholic Church does not regard homosexual activity as a perfect expression of the marital sacrament which it teaches is only possible within a lifelong commitment of a marriage between a man and a woman. According to the Church's sexual ethics, homosexual activity falls short in the areas complementarity (male and female organs complement each other) and fecundity (openness to new life) of the sexual act.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that no one should arouse sexual feelings outside of marriage, including those towards members of the same sex. The LDS church recognizes that feelings of same-sex attraction may not change or be overcome in this earth life, and expect all un-married members, gay or straight, to abstain from any and all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage. The LDS church maintains that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex (i.e., homosexual feelings or "temptations") are not inherently sinful, but engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the "doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."  Those who experience same-sex attraction should continually exercise self-control and reliance on the atonement of Jesus Christ in order to refrain from acting on such feelings. The LDS church strongly opposes same-sex marriage and teaches that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, and that this is essential to God's eternal plan. For more information on this subject, see the LDS Church's website "Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction". This site strives to address, through interviews and videos from Church leaders and members, the issue of same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and affected family members.
|“||"Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing."||”|
|— Quran , Surah 26 (165-166), trans. Sahih International|
All major Islamic schools disapprove of homosexuality, Islam views same-sex desires as an unnatural temptation; and, sexual relations are seen as a transgression of the natural role and aim of sexual activity. Islamic teachings (in the hadith tradition) presume same-sex attraction, extol abstention and (in the Qur'an) condemn consummation.
The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily concerned with activities between men. There are, however, a few hadith mentioning homosexual behavior in women; The fuqaha’ are agreed that "there is no hadd punishment for lesbianism, because it is not zina. Rather a ta’zeer punishment must be imposed, because it is a sin..'". Although punishment for lesbianism is rarely mentioned in the histories, al-Tabari records an example of the casual execution of a pair of lesbian slavegirls in the harem of al-Hadi, in a collection of highly critical anecdotes pertaining to that Caliph's actions as ruler.
Bahá'í law limits permissible sexual relations to those between a man and a woman in marriage. Believers are expected to abstain from sex outside matrimony. Bahá'ís do not, however, attempt to impose their moral standards on those who have not accepted the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. While requiring uprightness in all matters of morality, whether sexual or otherwise, the Bahá’í teachings also take account of human frailty and call for tolerance and understanding in regard to human failings. In this context, to regard homosexuals with prejudice would be contrary to the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings.
Among the religions that originated in India, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, teachings regarding homosexuality are less clear than among the Abrahamic traditions, and religious authorities voice diverse opinions. In 2005, an authority figure of Sikhism condemned same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. However, many people in Sikhism aren't against gay marriage. Hinduism is diverse, with no supreme governing body, but the majority of swamis opposed same-sex relationships in a 2004 survey, and a minority supported them. Ancient religious texts such as the Vedas often refer to people of a third gender known as hijra, who are neither female nor male. Some see this third gender as an ancient parallel to modern western lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex identities. However, this third sex is usually negatively valued as a pariah class in ancient texts.
Hinduism has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Referring to the nature of Samsara, the Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says 'Vikruti Evam Prakriti' (perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, what seems un-natural is also natural). Sexuality is rarely discussed openly in the modern Hindu society, and LGBT issues are largely a taboo subject — especially among the strongly religious. A "third gender" has been acknowledged within Hinduism since Vedic times. Several Hindu texts, such as Manu Smriti and Sushruta Samhita, assert that some people are born with either mixed male and female natures, or sexually neuter, as a matter of natural biology. They worked as hairdressers, flower-sellers, servants, masseurs and prostitutes. Today, many people of a "third gender" (hijras) live throughout India, mostly on the margins of society.
Several Hindu religious laws contain injunctions against homosexual activity, while some Hindu theories doesn't condemn lesbian relations and some third-gendered individuals were highly regarded. Hindu groups are historically not unifyed regarding the issue of homosexuality, each one having a distinct doctrinal view.
The Indian Kama Sutra, written in the 150 BC, contains passages describing eunuchs or "third-sex" males performing oral sex on men. Similarly, some medieval Hindu temples and artifacts openly depict both male homosexuality and lesbianism within their carvings, such as the temple walls at Khajuraho. Some infer from these images that at least part of the Hindu society and religion were previously more open to variations in human sexuality than they are at present.
In some Hindu sects (specially among the hijras), many divinities are androgynous. There are Hindu deities who are intersex (both male and female); who manifest in all three genders; who switch from male to female or from female to male; male deities with female moods and female deities with male moods; deities born from two males or from two females; deities born from a single male or single female; deities who avoid the opposite sex; deities with principal companions of the same sex, and so on. However, this is not accepted by the majority of Hindus, and is often considered heretical in nature. Those who do accept it justify with the belief that both God and nature are unlimitedly diverse and God is difficult to comprehend.
Several Hindu priests have performed same-sex marriages, arguing that love is the result of attachments from previous births and that marriage, as a union of spirit, is transcendental to gender.
It is often regarded that Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality.
The most common formulation of Buddhist ethics are the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path, one should neither be attached to nor crave sensual pleasure. The third of the Five Precepts is "To refrain from committing sexual misconduct." However, "sexual misconduct" is such a broad term, and is subjected to interpretation relative to the social norms of the followers. In fact, Buddhism in its earliest form did not clearly define sexuality rules for lay followers, restricting the subject mostly for monks. Therefore, the determination of whether or not homosexuality is acceptable for a layperson is not considered a religious matter by many Buddhists.
Buddhism is often characterized as distrustful of sensual enjoyment and sexuality in general. Traditionally, homosexual conduct and gender variance are seen as obstacles to spiritual progress in most schools of Buddhism; as such monks are expected to refrain from all sexual activity, and the Vinaya (the first book of the Tripitaka) specifically prohibits sexual intercourse, then further explain that both anal, oral as well as vaginal intercourse amount to sexual intercourse, which will result in permanent exclusion from Sangha. A notable exception in the history of Buddhism occurred in Japan during the Edo period, in which male homosexuality, or more specifically, love between young novices and older monks, was celebrated.
References to pandaka, a deviant sex/gender category that is usually interpreted to include homosexual males, can be found throughout the Pali canon as well as other Sanskrit scriptures. Leonard Zwilling refers extensively to Buddhaghosa's Samantapasadika, where pandaka are described as being filled with defiled passions and insatiable lusts, and are dominated by their libido. Some texts of the Abhidharma state that a pandaka cannot achieve enlightenment in their own lifetime, (but must wait for rebirth as a "normal" man or woman) and Asanga and Vasubandhu discussed if a pandaka was able to be enlightened or not. According to one scriptural story, Ananda—Buddha's cousin and disciple—was a pandaka in one of his many previous lives.
Some later classic Buddhist masters and texts (from both Theravada and Mahayana schools) disallow contact between Buddhists and pandakas and classify homosexuality as sexual misconduct, including for lay followers.
The third of the Five Precepts of Buddhism states that one is to refrain from sexual misconduct; this precept has sometimes been interpreted to include homosexuality. The Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism interprets sexual misconduct to include lesbian and gay sex, and indeed any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse, including oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand; the only time sex is acceptable is when it performed for its natural purpose of procreation. When interviewed by Canadian TV news anchor Evan Solomon on CBC News: Sunday about whether or not homosexuality is acceptable in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama responded that "it is sexual misconduct." This was an echo of an earlier response in a 2004 Vancouver Sun interview when asked about homosexuality in Buddhism, where the Dalai Lama replied "for a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct". However, the Dalai Lama supports human rights for all, "regardless of sexual orientation."
In Thailand, traditional accounts propose that "homosexuality arises as a karmic consequence of violating Buddhist proscriptions against heterosexual misconduct. These karmic accounts describe homosexuality as a congenital condition which cannot be altered, at least in a homosexual person's current lifetime, and have been linked with calls for compassion and understanding from the non-homosexual populace." However, Buddhist leaders in Thailand have also condemned homosexuality, ousted monks accused of homosexual acts, and banned kathoey from ordination. As per BBC article 27 April 2009, Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedh is very concerned by flamboyant behavior of gay and transgender novices such as the wearing of make-up and tight or revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows. Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood - so he introduced Thailand's & Buddhism's "good manners" curriculum - the country's first.
A later popular Japanese legend attributed the introduction of monastic homosexuality to Japan to Shingon founder Kukai, although scholars now dismiss the veracity of this assertion, pointing out his strict adherence to the Vinaya. Nonetheless, the legend served to "affirm same sex relation between men and boys in seventeenth century Japan." However, Japanese Buddhist scholar and author of Wild Azaleas Kitamura Kigin argued that there was a tendency in monasteries to avoid heterosexuality and to encourage homosexuality.
Although Mahayana Buddhism has texts opposing homosexuality, the majority of its teachings assert that all beings who correctly practice the dharma may reach enlightenment, since all possess an innate Buddha nature. Enlightenment being achievable even in a single life.
The capacity of Buddhism to reform itself and its great variety of distinct beliefs and schools, provide many liberal streams of Buddhism, which are accepting of all sexual orientations. Reformist Buddhism is predominant in the west and in some eastern cosmopolitan cities.
Sikhism has no written view on the matter, but in 2005, a Sikh religious authority described homosexuality as "against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature," and called on Sikhs to support laws against gay marriage. Many Sikhs are against this view, however, and state that the Sikh Scriptures promote equality and do not condemn homosexuality.
Marriage in Sikhism is seen as a union of souls. In Sikhism, the soul is seen as genderless, and the outward appearance of human beings (man, woman) is a temporary state. Same-sex marriage advocates refer to this fact.
|“||The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is a man that is a Daeva [demon]; this man is a worshipper of the Daevas, a male paramour of the Daevas||”|
The Vendidad, one of the later Zoroastrian texts composed in the Artificial Young Avestan language, has not been dated precisely. It is thought that some concepts of law, uncleanliness, dualism, and salvation were shared between the religions, and subsequent interactions between the religions are documented by events such as the release of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity by Zoroastrian Cyrus the Great in 537 BC, and the Biblical account of the Magi visiting the infant Jesus. The Vendidad generally promotes procreation: "the man who has a wife is far above him who lives in continence; he who keeps a house is far above him who has none; he who has children is far above the childless man; he who has riches is far above him who has none." It details the penance for a worshipper who submits to sodomy under force as "Eight hundred stripes with the Aspahe-astra, eight hundred stripes with the Sraosho-charana." (equal to the penalty for breaking a contract with the value of an ox), and declares that for those participating voluntarily "For that deed there is nothing that can pay, nothing that can atone, nothing that can cleanse from it; it is a trespass for which there is no atonement, for ever and ever". However, those not practicing the Religion of Mazda were pardoned for past actions upon conversion.
However, many Zoroastrians, termed "reformists", eschew the teachings of the Vendidad as corruptions of Zoroaster's original message, claiming the rules do not conform with 'Good Words, Good Thoughts and Good Deeds', and therefore have no spiritual significance. Hence, many of these reformist Zoroastrians are openly accepting and supportive of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage.
East Asian religions
Confucianism, being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. However, the ideology did emphasize male friendships, and Louis Crompton has argued that the "closeness of the master-disciple bond it fostered may have subtly facilitated homosexuality". Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Analects of Confucius. "Biting the bitter peel", a euphemism for homosexual relations, generally taken to mean anal sex, is mentioned as having been practiced by several individuals in the Classic of History as well as the Spring and Autumn Annals, both texts belonging to the Five Classics.
There is no single official position on homosexuality in Taoism, as the term Taoism is used to describe a number of disparate religious traditions. In a similar way to Buddhism, Taoist schools sought throughout history to define what would be sexual misconduct. Consequently, the literature of some schools included homosexuality as one of the forms of sexual misconduct. However, homosexuality is not unknown in Taoist history, such as during the Tang dynasty when Taoist nuns exchanged love poems. Attitudes about homosexuality within Taoism often reflect the values and sexual norms of broader Chinese society (see Homosexuality in China).
The Wiccan Charge of the Goddess, one of the most famous texts in Neopaganism, states in the words of the Goddess, "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals". In traditional forms of Wicca, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, magic is often performed between a man and a woman, and the "Great Rite" is a sex ritual performed between a Priest and Priestess representing the God and Goddess; however, this is not generally seen as excluding homosexuals or magic between same-sex couples. Most groups still insist, however, that initiations be conferred from man to woman or woman to man. Any ritual sexual acts, whether actual or symbolic, take place between two consenting adults, normally a couple who are already lovers. See also LGBT topics and Wicca.
Satanism, in the LaVey tradition, is open to all forms of sexual expression, and does not preclude homosexuality.
The first ordained minister of a major religious sect in the U.S. or Canada to come out as gay was the UU Minister James Stoll in 1969. There have been UUA resolutions supporting people regardless of sexual orientation since 1970. Unitarian Universalism was the first denomination to accept openly transgender people as full members with eligibility to become clergy; in 1988 the first openly transgender person was ordained by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The Unitarian Universalist Association supports the freedom to marry and compares resistance to it to the resistance to abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, and the end of anti-miscegenation laws. Several congregations have undertaken a series of organizational, procedural and practical steps to become acknowledged as a "Welcoming Congregation": a congregation which has taken specific steps to welcome and integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender (GLBT) members. UU ministers perform same-sex unions and now same-sex marriages where legal (and sometimes when not, as a form of civil protest). On 29 June 1984, the Unitarian Universalists became the first major church "to approve religious blessings on homosexual unions." Unitarian Universalists have been in the forefront of the work to make same-sex marriages legal in their local states and provinces, as well as on the national level. Gay men and lesbians are also regularly ordained as ministers, and a number of gay and lesbian ministers have, themselves, now become legally married to their partners. In May 2004, Arlington Street Church was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States. The official stance of the UUA is for the legalization of same-sex marriage—"Standing on the Side of Love." In 2004 UU Minister Rev. Debra Haffner of The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published An Open Letter on Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality to affirm same-sex marriage from a multi-faith perspective.
Humanism lifestance that supports full equality for LGBTQ individuals  including the right to marry. Humanism and Its Aspirations, a statement of humanist principles from the American Humanist Association, states that "humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views...work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner." The American Humanist Association provides a LGBT Humanist Pride award  and has funded a LGBT-inclusive prom for Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi. The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association from the U.K. promotes "an awareness and understanding of the Humanist ethical outlook, bringing lesbian and gay rights issues to the attention of the public, and playing a full part in the campaign for lesbian and gay equality,"  and in 2009 they gave Stephen Fry an award "for his services to humanism and gay rights."  The Galha LGBT Humanists "is a United Kingdom-based not-for-profit that campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and human rights and promotes Humanism as an ethical worldview."
Religious groups and public policy
Opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT rights is often associated with conservative religious views. The American Family Association and other religious groups have promoted boycotts of corporations whose policies support the LGBT community.
In conservative Islamic nations, laws generally prohibit same-sex sexual behaviour, and interpretation of Sharia Law on male homosexuality carries the death penalty. This has been condemned as a violation of human rights by human rights organisation Amnesty International and by the writers of the Yogyakarta principles. With the signature of the USA in 2009, the proposed UN declaration on LGBT rights has now been signed by every European secular state and all western nations, as well as other countries—67 members of the UN in total. An opposing statement put forward by Muslim nations was signed by 57 member states, mostly in Africa and Asia. 68 out of the total 192 countries have not yet signed either statement. In 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution initiated by South Africa supporting LBGT rights (See Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the United Nations)
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