Is Sanatana Dharma truly biased and orthodox towards LGBTQ+ community, or is it unfairly targeted? Are Islam and Christianity devoid of any flaws? The devil lies in the details.
I am equal towards all living beings; no one is hated by me and no one is beloved. Those who worship me with devotion, however, are in me, and I am in them.
-Bhagavad Gita 9.29
Globally, pseudo-secularists and liberals have consistently attacked Hinduism for being biased and intolerant. Is that true? Not exactly, as according to Sanatana Dharma, all people are treated equally, no matter what their beliefs or practices are. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is to reach the spiritual zenith; hence everyone is included in the broader spectrum. ‘Brahmaleen’ or oneness with Brahman is the spiritual zenith for attaining salvation.
Freedom in Sanatana Dharma
As per Sanatana Dharma, no one’s treated differently regardless of their choices and preferences, as stated above by Bhagwan Krishna. The ancient beliefs of our people were based on accepting differences in society in terms of different ways people expressed themselves. Our ancient temples contain various mural depictions reflecting the openness of that time, as we can still see and understand. At the famous Khajuraho temple, there are representations of women indulging in sexual activities with other women.
Traditionally, people in India could marry whomever they desired, regardless of societal conditions and customs, known as Gandharva Vivah. Although these marriages weren’t common or widely encouraged, those who did, weren’t punished. Kama Sutra is an ancient Hindu text from the second century, originating in India. Kamasutra has references to lesbians called ‘swarinis’. They were women who often married other women and raised children together. In our Sanatana history, transgenders or the third gender also played a key role. Transgender Shikhandi shaped the course of history in Mahabharat as a pivotal figure in the war.
Islamic Point of View
People have falsely claimed that Hindus are regressive and not accepting LGBTQ+ people, which is far from the truth. Those liberals and secularists who harp on about the freedom of religion should be confronted with reality. To demonstrate who is truly intolerant, certain quotes and verses from the Bible and Quran must be highlighted.
There are a couple of verses in Quran and Hadith which express the rejection of homosexuality;
7: 81-82: “You approach men with lust instead of women. No, you are a people who go beyond the limits.”
From Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, the Prophet states that: “If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both adulteresses, if a man comes upon a man, then they are both adulterers.”
— Al-Tabarani in al-Mu‘jam al-Awat: 4157, Al-Bayhaqi, Su‘ab al-Iman: 5075
Ibn Al Jawzi–
It was narrated that Ibn Abbas said: “The Prophet said: ‘… cursed is the one who does the action of the people of Lot’.”
— Musnad Ahmad:1878
Ahmad narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet of Allah said: ‘May Allah curse the one who does the action of the people of Lot, may Allah curse the one who does the action of the people of Lot’, three times.”
— Musnad Ahmad: 2915
It’s famous about the relationship between Mahmud of Ghazni and Malik Ayaz, which started when Malik was an adolescent slave boy to the former. “At the time of the coins’ minting, Mahmud of Ghazni was in a passionate romantic relationship with his male slave Malik Ayaz, and had exalted him to various positions of power across the Ghazanid Empire. While the story of their love affair had been censored until recently — the result of Western colonialism and changing attitudes towards homosexuality in the Middle East — Jasmine explains how Ghazni’s subjects saw their relationship as a higher form of love.”
Islamic concepts are challenging to comprehend since every individual can and does twist facts according to their own preferences. Speaking of ISIS, which describes itself as a hard-line and pure Islamist group, it publicly punishes homosexuals. ISIS is a hybrid of Salafism, Salafi jihadism, Sunni Islamist fundamentalism, Wahhabism, and Qutbism.
“To be sure, gay men were being targeted by the Iraqi and Syrian regimes prior to the announcement of the so-called IS “Caliphate,” and the region’s legal and religious climate is often inhospitable to that community. Moreover, other jihadi groups have executed homosexuals, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and its branches Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). What stands out with IS, though, is the level of textual justification it has produced for such executions and the theatrical manner in which it conducts them, potentially inciting greater anti-LGBT violence.”- Washington Institute
Those who claim that ISIS is not ideologically affiliated with Islam need to face reality. According to Islam, homosexuality is viewed as a serious sin and is categorically forbidden. An official statement on the issue was published by the Australian National Imams Council in 2018.
Therefore, it should be evident by now that Islam and freedom for sexual freedom and openness are at odds. Hence, this false claim that Islam is a religion of inclusivity and acceptance is nothing more than a hoax.
Views as Per Christianity
Let’s talk about Christianity, which is believed to propagate freedom, equality, and liberal values. Christianity and Islam aren’t very different ideologically, despite what some people think. There are a few Biblical verses that shed light on the essence of Christian beliefs.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”- Leviticus 18:22
- Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed- Genesis 19.1-11
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
2. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakoi), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” –1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)
1 Timothy 1:10 also uses the term arsenokoitai in a similar “vice list.” Given that many Bible translations since 1946 have rendered malakoi and arsenokoitai as “homosexuals” or “men who have sex with men,” it’s worth taking a close look at these two Greek terms.
3. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. – Romans 1:26-27
These verses not only object to homosexuality but also underline the severity of one more issue, and that is disrespect of women. Christianity undoubtedly has traditionally been opposed to homosexuality, a far cry from the displayed truth.
It’s a case of humorous discrepancy and hypocrisy, where Hindus and their beliefs have been attacked from all corners. This despite the fact that in Sanatana Dharma, everyone is treated equally irrespective of their personal beliefs. In the Hindu tradition of Sanatana Dharma, the objective of the soul is to unite with the cosmic universal consciousness. In Hinduism, every individual is considered to be an aspect of Brahman (universal consciousness) and is a part of Brahman. Whereas, as per Abrahamic beliefs, humans are considered and treated inferior to their god and no one can challenge them.
What then is the reason for nonchalance or open critique of the extreme orthodoxy, bias, and repression of these religions? Due to current western influences as well as previous foreign societal changes, our Hindu society is no longer in touch with the actual tenets of its progressive ethos. Hindus have been labeled as regressive, unpractical, and conservative over and over again. Why is this so? These secular liberals have always deliberately cited scriptures like Manusmriti in a negative light to justify their reasoning. You never hear anyone citing the Quran or Bible in the same way. The ills of the latter are overlooked but the same yardstick doesn’t apply to Hindu scriptures. It is alarming that this hypocrisy and conspiracy to humiliate Hindus have reached dangerous levels. It is imperative that we present our inclusive and progressive thoughts to naysayers and haters in their puritanical form.
- Matthewson-Grand, Allison (21 February 2020). “QUEER HISTORY: A TOUR OF GENDER AND IDENTITY THROUGH TIME AND CULTURE”. University of Cambridge.