Savi Hensman, Vice-Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, gave the 4th paper, "Paying the Price-An Asian Perspective." She made the following key points...
- This is not THE Asian perspective, but her perspective as a native of Sri Lanka.
- Issues of sexuality are caught up with other issues--such as poverty, health, and human rights. She read from 3 recent news articles--China addressing the spread of AIDS among gay men. A young Iranian gay man sentenced to death in Iran. A gay Indian rajah adopting a boy as his heir.
- Christians are a minority in Asia, and Anglicans are a minority among Christians. Most Anglicans work ecumenically.
- Asian theology focuses on the marginalized, poor, and oppressed. She read from several Asian theological statements.
- Attitudes towards homosexuality vary in Asia. In some parts of India same-sex relationships are tolerated. In some parts of Asia attitudes are hardening.
- There is yearning in some parts of Asia for an imagined "golden age," which is used by conservative politicians against homosexuals.
- Many Asian Christians (including Anglicans) have not thought or talked much about sexuality. This is partly because of their missionary heritage. Limited literature is available in Asian languages.
- The former primate of Southeast Asia was especially unhelpful. He was extremely hostile to study of and dialog on homosexuality. The current primate is not as outspoken, but Southeast Asia has not responded to the Listening Process. When Singapore was considering decriminalization of homosexuality, Anglican leaders campaigned against it (while the Muslim leaders did not).
- The Episcopal Church in Japan is much more open to diversity.
- The rise of Christian and Muslim fundamentalism has caused some Anglicans to become hardliners on homosexuality. Other Anglicans feel called to work against discrimination.
- The Bishop of Columbo has written very passionately in favor of inclusion.
- To summarize, the situation in Asia is full of danger and opportunity.
- A former priest who left the church to live openly with his partner.
- A homosexual man who once lived in a same-sex relationship but has now chosen to live in celibacy.
- A woman who started the process of becoming a man but stopped and is now married to a man and has two children.
- An openly gay priest who has a life partner.