On ‘Religion, Inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities’ Discussion, Bangalore, 24th AUG 09

Many people (including myself) spoke at the discussion organized by Sangama and Aneka with religious leaders on “Religion, Inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities” in NGO hall, Bangalore on 24th August 2009 including:

Swami Agnivesh (Bandhua Mukti Morcha and Arya Samaj)

Dr. Asgar Ali Engineer (Islamic Scholar, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)

Rev. K. C Abraham (Theologian, Church of South India)

Mr. Christopher Rajkumar (Commission on Justice, Peace, Creation – National Council of Churches in India)

Mr. Dinesh Ghodke (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment, Art of Living)

Guruji Vinay Vinekar (Institute of Universal Consciousness)

Dr. Saleem Kidwai, medieval historian, translator, writer and editor of Same-sex love in India

Ms. Mansi Meera Baindur (Ecofeminist and Philosopher, National Institute of Advanced Studies)

Ms. Revathi, writer and sexual minority activist

Ms. Abhinaya, Film Actress

I represented Sangama and Aneka as their co-director and spoke about the situation of sexual minorities in the society and how they also get rejected by different religious spaces, institutions and leaders. This program was focused on how religions could be more inclusive.

Swami Agnivesh stated that he was one of the first people who signed the petition against section 377 of the Indian penal Code. He said god could be realized in all human beings and sexual minorities too are human. He said that when he welcomed the Delhi high court judgment some other religious leaders attacked his house and he said if him supporting sexual minorities received this response what could be the situation of sexual minorities.

Film actress Abhinaya stated that she supports the cause of sexual minorities.

Rev K.C. Abraham said that society and religions should be open to all people without discrimination. He appealed to sexual minorities to take forward their struggle for justice.

Ms. Revathi from Sangama spoke about how in Hijra culture includes many aspects of Hinduism and Islam.

Swami Dinesh said that IPC section 377 was like a fossil and was extremely discriminatory. He conveyed the message of love and support from his Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Swami Vinay Vinekar said that religion is not a religion if it teaches hate. All religions will accept people without discrimination.

Dr. Christopher Rajkumar said that he was impressed by reading the book of an Aravani Vidya and also said that if religions preach discrimination they are not religions at all. He said that there is a need for a campaign to become human and to remain human.

Ms. Mansi Meera Baindur said even religions have been changing and patriarchy has taken over the religion too, which has led into problems.

The session was chaired by Mr. David Selva Raj from Visthar.

Here are the links for some media coverage:

DNA: Agnivesh backs sexual minorities

HINDU: Centre urged not to fight Section 377 ruling

MID-DAY: ‘Be more human’

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