The SASOD discussion on Spirituality and Sexuality was a forum for aninteresting exchange on views of religion, spirituality and sexuality.
The first challenge was to make the discussion a safe one, and the group started by a grounding meditation, followed by a series of introductionsand a discussion on what the ground rules should be.These ground rules are :-
* participation is voluntary, people will talk when they feel like
* one person speaks at a time
* respect others's opinion and try to deal with the idea rather than the person
* no side talk
* no prejudices - against persons in or out of the room
* Cell phones turned off, no pictures to be taken
* the ground rules can be reviewed from time to time
The following points were raised :-
* spirituality is about the connection of the spirit and the greater universe
* religion provides the path to spirituality
* religious texts can be misinterpreted, and have been misinterpreted
* some were suspicious of secular humanism ( http://www.secularhumanism.org ) as a creed
* some accepted that they will 'sin' and give repentance
* One person was adamant that homosexuals were responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS, and for other ills in the society. He felt that homosexuals should turn to the word of God and find a way out from the deviant lifestyle.
* There was strong objection that now heterosexual population in the Caribbean was more at risk from HIV/AIDS and that there was a danger to ignore heterosexual sex as a dangerous.
* Persons said that there were homosexual people who did not indulge in anal sex, or other risky behaviour and that it is not good to stereotype a group.
* The response of the group was that individual persons could find peace with their version of God, and that individual people choose their partners for sex. Every adult has a choice when they consent to any sexual activity.
There was loud discussion on these points, sometimes very emotional,looking at hypocrisy and how in history, homosexuals were sometimesaccepted in society until the 18th Century.
The majority of the group acknowledged that they had reconciled theirsexuality with their spiritual and religious beliefs in one way oranother, some said that they acknowledged that having consensual sex would not be considered a sin (the Hindu person noted that the notion of sin in Hinduism is different from the Judaic religions)should not be a sin when there were other things which were worse.Concern was expressed at the level of internal homophobia which some gayand lesbian people would go through as a result of religious based hatred. This group had people who identified as Bahai, Christian andHindu.The next session will be on Sexuality and Self-Esteem and the venue will be announced later.
In Evaluation, the group felt that the there was good discussion and that persons felt comfortable to disclose or speak personally.