Ajahn Brahm, Abbott of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Serpentine, Western Australia, and Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore has urged followers to show respect, compassion and fairness to LGBTI people.
His comments were in response to a question asked by an audience member about the Buddhist position on LGBTs.
While Muslim, Catholic and Christian leaders and organizations weighed in on the issue in recent months prior to the 26,000-strong Pink Dot rally in June, Buddhist groups did not add to the debate although Buddhists comprise the largest religious group in Singapore making up 33.3% of the population.
Ajahn Brahm was speaking to an audience of over 500 people at an event organized by the Buddhist Fellowship at the Chui Huay Lim Club in Singapore on Thursday night.
The 63-year-old Theravada Buddhist monk is also the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of Victoria, and the Buddhist Society of South Australia.
He told the audience, 'Buddhism teaches us to have compassion for all sentient beings. Aren't gay people sentient beings? They should be respected like everybody else. There is a principal of compassion and fairness for everybody.'
He added that he was very proud to have been able to perform a same-sex marriage blessing for a couple in Norway, and stressed that Buddhist teachings doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
'There is nothing in the sutras, in the teachings of the Buddha, which discriminates against anybody no matter what race, religion, or sexual orientation. I do ask all Buddhists to show compassion and respect for everybody.'
He further warned against LGBTI people suppressing their natural sexuality as doing 'causes huge psychological and health problems' and harms their community.
'If you discriminate and suppress a person's natural sexuality, it causes terrible, terrible harm. It is recognised in many places in the west that this is harming the whole community. Morality does not fall apart when we don't have discrimination.'
He also explained that while he could not understand homosexuality as a layman his views have evolved since becoming a monk.
'Many years ago, a leader of the gay community in Perth came up to me and he said with such pain in his heart, "Religion has been so cruel to the gay community." And when he said that, you could feel his pain and that went right into my heart. I never forgotten that. How it hurt him to the core for years. That's unacceptable.'