In the debate about LGBTQ+ issues, a lot of people use religion for their rationales.
Although religion can be a source of conflict, it can also be a force for morality and good if put in the right situation. Religion can motivate people to act selflessly. Thus, with this critique, I am not saying religion is bad. As a Hindu (albeit not a good one), I consider my religion an integral part of my identity.
However, one thing you will never see me use Hinduism for is to promote or undermine ideas in the political domain.
The United States was founded upon certain Constitutional principles that promote the free expression of religion while simultaneously ensuring the separation of church and state. This separation has been used in a legal sense to strike down certain laws and practices, but it does not prohibit the use of one’s religion in a personal sense while engaging in public discourse. However, if one wishes to keep their debate within the true spirit of American democracy, one should be able to defend their beliefs regarding politics without referencing religious texts or figures.
There are occasions where individuals have tried using Christianity to convince me of the sinfulness of homosexuality or other matters. Unsurprisingly, it did little to change my opinion. America is growing increasingly diverse, and its laws and institutions should serve Americans regardless of their religion, sexual orientation or other aspect of their identity. Policies restricting publications depicting homosexual relationships may serve certain religious families in the sense it saves them the trouble of explaining the existence of atypical relationships and family structures, but it does little else. It leaves children ill-prepared when they encounter LGBTQ+ individuals in the future at work or college.
When it comes to “preventing homosexuality” (were such a thing to be desired), such restrictive policies do nothing. Scientific opinion, as well as common sense, heavily favors the idea one cannot be “coerced” into being gay or transgender, just as how one cannot be coerced into being a different ethnicity or race. Why else would individuals raised by gay or lesbian couples turn out straight, yet some people in this predominantly straight society identify as homosexual?
Even when a person identifies as gay, lesbian, transgender or other what risk do they pose to society? As far as work goes, they are equally productive members of society. They are law-abiding citizens who serve in our armed forces, teach at our schools and colleges, work in the service industry, produce art and music, engineer technical solutions, volunteer at charities and more. They do not “groom” anyone but merely ask for acceptance by the rest of society. If religion, rather than secular logic, is the only reason one fears or despises homosexuality, then homosexuality cannot be considered immoral or sinful.
If I were to take a certain interpretation of my Hindu faith literally, I would believe in a caste system where untouchables (“Dalits”) should stay in their lane and fulfill their role as society’s permanent underclass, doing all the dirty work no one else wants to do. I would believe warriors (“Kshatriyas”) should not become academics, farmers and merchants, (“Vaishyas”) should work their fields and shops, and the elite “Brahmins” should never dirty themselves with lower jobs. Such an attitude leads to discrimination, unnecessary conflict/wars and a less productive society; hence, I choose to disregard categorizing or discriminating based on caste. Other faiths can and should do the same when it comes to accepting others who identify as LGBTQ+.
(Janagan Ramanathan, the son of Sri Lankan immigrants, was raised in Sartell and graduated in 2020 from Sartell High School. He spent two years as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, then transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he studies aerospace engineering. His hobbies are strategy board games, video games, frisbee, Tom Clancy novels, Bollywood movies and annoying his family and friends.)