I am specifically interested in the attitude of Theravadan Buddhism toward homosexuality (if it has one at all.) I don't recall ever seeing any references to homosexuality in the suttas...I do recall seeing some non-normative sexual activity discussed in the Vinaya (or its commentary) but am not as familiar with the Vinaya. If anyone can speak to the Vinaya on this topic that would be helpful.

It seems right to assume that homosexual activity would not be treated any differently than heterosexual activity, but the fact that I do not recall seeing it ever discussed, along with general cultural attitudes expressed (e.g., statements by the Buddha (as I recall) that there is nothing more attractive to a man than a woman and vice versa) makes me wonder if I am missing something.

Also, if anyone has any contextual information about the culture in India at that time that would point to why there would be no discussion of homosexuality--e.g., it was absent--that would be helpful.


9 Answers 9


I think that the reason you only find references to homosexual activity in the vinaya is BECAUSE the vinaya is the only place where there is a need to be specific regarding sexual acts... Oral sex is still oral sex whether it's performed by a man or a woman, an animal or even yourself.

In the Suttas, the teachings, it doesn't matter if you are attracted to the opposite sex, same sex, etc. it's all about craving,clinging, desire, attachment, and aversion all underpinned by ignorance. These come from the mind and go far deeper then sexual identity and attraction.

As for Homosexuality and the Theravada tradition, buddhanet.net strikes again:


As homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha's discourses (more than 20 volumes in the Pali Text Society's English translation), we can only assume that it is meant to be evaluated in the same way that heterosexuality is. And indeed it seems that this is why it is not specifically mentioned.

  • (1) I actually don't recall references to homosexual activity in the Vinaya (or commentaries)--whether there are any is part of my question; (2) The way you characterize the suttas seems to be in line with the letter and spirit of the Dhamma as I understand it; yet, I don't know of any explicit references to homosexuality in the suttas, which is a bit of a curiousity. (3) The article you linked to is interesting, but it doesn't appear to give any sources even when apparently directly quoting. (4) The claim that homosexuality is not mentioned is something I would like to have someone verify.
    – Adamokkha
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 16:38
  • This is where I wish I could upvote like 100 times, lol... one of my teachers in Buddhism is a gay man. I'm heterosexual. There was no need to even bring it up until there was denial of one nature or another relating to the practice of sexuality--ergo, having sex. The idea is about physical stimulation, not about who or what is causing it.
    – Vishwa Jay
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 22:27
  • The suttas also teach about proper sexual conduct for laypeople (rather than just giving up sex for monks). Therefore, I could not discern the relevance in your post of 'equalizing sexual orientation' based on abstinence. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 1:14
  • The Vinaya references I think you are looking for relate to the concept of "pandaka" which ambiguously refers to both intersex people ("hermaphrodite" is an outdated and offensive term that refers to the same thing) and sexually unusual men, such that it ends up describing gay men and transfeminine people as well. This article is an interesting read on the subject Non-normative Sex/Gender Categories in the Theravada Buddhist Scriptures
    – jerclarke
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 20:39
  • You can read more about "pandaka" in What is a pandaka? here on the stack
    – jerclarke
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 20:40

In respect to the cultural context of the Pali suttas, I have only read references to: (i) parents arranging the marriage of their (pubescent) children (DN 31) &; (ii) sex in marriage between husbands & wives (AN 4.53; AN 4.55; DN 31); as wholesome or Buddhist sexual conduct.

In that cultural context, sexual misconduct (per AN 10.176) means to have sex in a way that harms existing family relationships between husbands & wives, parents & children, etc.

In other words, there is obviously nothing in Buddhism that supports the recent 'Sexual Revolution' & sexual liberalism that occurred due to the technology of universal birth-control.

Just because today's culture has significant numbers of 'consenting adults' with no strings attached does not necessarily mean sexual liberalism is considered wholesome in Buddhism.

DN 31 explicitly states 'sexual liberalism' is a road to ruin.

With these cultural contexts in mind, the suttas are silent on homosexuality. Therefore, it can be assumed Buddhist principles hold that homosexual activity outside of committed (homosexual) relationships is unwholesome.

For example, Buddhist principles would support homosexual rights & homosexual marriage but would not support Gay Pride parades & Mardi Gras where gay people perform public sexual acts and promote a liberal/hedonistic gay culture.

Many worthy social crusades, such as 1st wave feminism (which sought equal rights for women) or the decriminalization of homsexuality, end up degenerating, such as into 2nd wave feminism, which campaigned against motherhood & family values and promoted sexual promiscuity for women.

Many good & proper causes get easily hijacked & perverted.

Thus, when it is said Buddhism is not against homosexuality, this does not mean Buddhism supports all actions homosexuals perform. If homosexuals transgress the five moral precepts, Buddhism does not support or endorse those transgressions.

  • I agree and the suttas do not mention homosexuality, but the Vinaya does mention pandakas...which is admittedly a difficult word to sort out. I've heard that translated as inter-sexed, hermaphrodite, with Peter Harvey reading it more as an effeminate homosexual.
    – user698
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 0:36
  • When I lived in Thailand, in a serious practise monastery, there were obviously a few ex-homosexuals ordained as monks. I know at least two ex-lesbian Western bhikkhuni. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 0:41
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    Well, I'm not so sure I'd call them "ex". Maybe non practicing? ;-)
    – user698
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 0:46
  • It is definitely a refusal when one tries to be qaulified as a Bhikkhus if one is homo, both homo & hetero, one is incompetent, one has both male & female "roots", in the Mahayana. Though Theravada in some extent differs from Mahayana, I doubt in this fundamental doctrine they would divert! Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 13:28

"miccha dhamma" is never about homosexuality, as the comment of the Cakkavattisuttaṃ (DN 26) is wrong.

The word "miccha dhamma" and other two words are also appear in the Palokasuttaṃ (AN.3.56), and no comment about homosexuality here (as far as I know).

Obviously, "miccha dhamma" just means any bad practices or something away from sammā (involving greed to others' belongings or possessions) which happening in natural and man-made disasters, not some specific action.

The three words (adhamma-rāga), (visama-lobha), (miccha dhamma) have the similar meaning. The meaning of rāga is similar to lobha, and the meaning of visama is similar to adhamma & miccha dhamma. So, it does not mean some specific action, and the three words are just some ancient pali collocations.

That wrong comment just came from some medieval homophobic buddhists like any homophobic Buddhists in the Modern times, whether he is living in Sri Lanka or not, whether where he living colonized by Britain's CHRISTIAN CUSTOM or not.

Non-majority is not deviant practice, as left-handers are not. However discrimination against minority is deviant practice, so anyone does so is deviant.

And I must say if homosexuality involving any of this, then Buddha would say more in other suttas, not just appearing in the mouth of some medieval homophobic commentators and their homophobic followers.

Again, I can not comment, so I will post here. Vinaya does mention pandakas, but the meaning of pandaka is about impotence or eunuch.

The category of pandaka is limited to five, and every category has its specific meaning involving impotence or eunuch.

It's just because some pandakas having sex with men, thus interpreted that it is connected to homosexuality by some people. (However, In the Chinese version of sarvāstivāda-vinaya, the pandaka also trying to have sex with women)

[十誦律(the Chinese version of sarvāstivāda-vinaya):是時,跋難陀釋子,與不能男出家(this paragraph mentioned the pandaka)。是人,夜捫摸諸比丘,諸比丘驅出(this paragraph mentioned trying to have sex with bhikkhu, namely men)。到比丘尼邊式叉摩尼沙彌沙彌尼邊,皆捫摸諸比丘尼學戒尼,諸沙彌沙彌尼盡驅出(and this paragraph mentioned trying to have sex with bhikkhunī, namely women)。]

The following articles introduce the five types of pandaka and its meaning :

The vinaya does not say anything about homosexuality or heterosexuality affect the qualification of bhikkhu. (definition of homosexuality/heterosexuality: the sexual desire for the same gender or opposite gender.)


  1. 黃門/不能男是同一個詞彙的翻譯,律典當中已經表明,黃門只限制在五個類別裡,每一個類別的定義,都不是同性戀的定義。




  1. 律典問「汝是丈夫不」。根據南山律學辭典的定義,丈夫與否,根本和其性欲對象無關。



把丈夫翻成(husband-man) 來解釋,是只看中文的望文生義。

  1. 《摩訶僧祇律》很清楚的把「向男比丘求歡的男子」以及「向男比丘求歡的黃門」區分開來。清楚顯示了,在律典中,一個對男人有性欲的男人,和一個對男人有性欲的黃門,根本不是同個概念。




順便補充我找到的,關於(adhamma-rāga), (visama-lobha), (miccha dhamma)的解釋:


「大王。於諸外道非義論中起義論想。於無益論生利益想。於非法中生是法想。於末世時。非是智者所作論中。以為正論。生於信心。熏修邪見。以為福德。是名邪法羅網纏心」,這個才應該是miccha dhamma的意思。正好說明我之前的推測是有依據的。那種把miccha dhamma縮小成特定行為的解釋,反而無法在「經典」和「構字」上找到根據。

  • I deleted all the comments under this answer. The purpose of comments is to suggest improvements to an answer. and the comments didn't seem to be doing that.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 20:27
  • You're right, in the Translation of Anguttara Nikaya, Buddhaghosa (in the Anguttara Nikaya-atthakatha/commentary) explained micchadhamma as false Dhamma (not homosexual acts), but in the Translation of Digha Nikaya, Buddhaghosa (in the Digha Atthakatha/commentary) explained micchadhamma as 'men-with-men, women-with-women'. I want to agree with you, but it can't be that Buddhaghosa's commentary is wrong, right? Can you give me a proof that the comment of the Cakkavattisuttaṃ (DN 26) is wrong?
    – iyi lau
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 10:49
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    What do you mean give a proof that the comment of the Cakkavattisuttaṃ (DN 26) is wrong? DN 26 gives these three terms "adhamma-rāga, visama-lobha, miccha dhamma", and doesn't explain the meaning of these terms. The literal meaning of miccha-dhamma is wrong dhamma. The comment explains its meaning specific to "the desire between men-with-men, women-with-women". Other sources give different explanations, like the commentary of Anguttara Nikaya and a Mahayana sutra: Bodhisattvagocaropāyaviṣayavikurvāṇanirdeśa (大薩遮尼乾子所說經 ). Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 12:29
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    That there are other explanations represents the three terms don't have specific meanings, and I don't see why I can only choose the explanation of Digha Atthakatha. As for the correctness of the Pali Atthakatha, there always are some discussions about other alternative explanations about some specific terms. In fact, I think it's those who adhere to the explanation of the Digha Atthakatha should give the reason why one should only choose its explanation, and why that explanation is more correct than others. Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 12:43
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    And If you want me to give an counterexample for the link between wrong dhamma and homosexual desire, there are some possibilities. Fore one, the Vinaya rules that monks who have same-sex contact acquire more lighter penalties than hetero-sex contact. Also there are some stories or examples about gender transformation, like Soreyya. tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/verseload.php?verse=043 Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 13:03

What is the attitude toward homosexuality in Buddhism?

Buddhism doesn't concern itself with superficial stuff like that. Buddhism is on a much deeper and more internal level. It's about purification of mind through the practice of The Noble Eightfold Path.

It doesn't matter how you look, what your sexuality etc. is. Desire or craving for a male body or a female body is still just desire and craving and the same methods (meditation, mindfulness, guarding the sense doors, right view) for working with these defilements apply.


When you tread the path according to the Dhamma, whatever that you come across in life, you must assess the object for cause and effect (hetu-pala dhamma) and understand whether there is harm to self, others and to the nature before taking any action (be it mental, physical or verbal).

If one assesses the matter at hand for cause and effect (hetu-pala dhamma) and understands whether there is harm to self, others and environment before taking any action, one lives in accordance with a code of moral conduct without being indebted to anyone in the infinite samsara. This means one treads Dhamma Path.

  • And how does this relate to the question?
    – ruben2020
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 14:56

If 1000 novices ordain at age 7, how many will turn out gay and what happens to them?

Obviously some of that sample will probably turn out to be gay and nothing special will happen but they will face different challenges, trials and tribulations.

There is a sutta about Vakkali, he was fond of the Buddha so much that he had to be sent away.

The texts do not spell out that Vakkali was gay but Buddha sent him away and there is a sutta saying that he was fond of Buddha's form;

"For a long time, Lord, I have wanted to come and set eyes on the Blessed One, but I had not the strength in this body to come and see the Blessed One."

"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."[3]https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.087x.wlsh.html

It's a very controversial disciple but as i personally understand it, he was more likely than not gay.

There is also an allowance for a monk in whom female characteristics appear to join the nun sangha.

It is my impression that there is nothing inherently different to being gay but some should probably not be living in close quarters with other monks.

  • 1
    Vakkali is not necessarily gay. In Indian culture today and perhaps also the past, it is considered a blessing for a person to look upon a saint with his or her own eyes.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 14:55
  • 1
    The thing is that he was so fond of the Buddha that he had to be sent away + Sutta have it that Vakkali was specifically fond of looking at the foul body. The two circumstances make me lean to Vakkali having a crush, love & devotion to the Buddha. I think this is the most easy explaination. I don't even know what else would be a more simple explaination to fit the circumstances. I think i am being objective when i see it as most simple explaination.
    – user8527
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 15:39
  • To say it is a cultural thing, i can entertain the idea but it seems to me as being far more unlikely because to be thus obsessed with looking at a saint that one has to be evicted from the dwelling is borderline madness. I don't think he necessarily wanted to have sex with the Buddha but i lean to it being fondness of the physical appearance and all around admiration.
    – user8527
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 15:47
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    In which sutta does it say that Vakkali had to be sent away?
    – ruben2020
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 15:50
  • Afaik It's not Sutta but Theragāthā, Commentary ThagA.i.420
    – user8527
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 16:33

Sexual perversion or disfunctions, abnormalities, have causes, do not arise without. And what are the causes that one, if gaining a human existance, finds him caught in such misery? Disloyalty, going after lust, sexual misconduct. Knowing the outcomes of this, the instructed abstains from conducts leding to such misery, is devoted to loyalty, doesn't go after lust and leads a life not centered on pleasure of the flesh. Now thinking on how many are after porns, what does one think: Will sexual perversion increase or decrease fastly? And wher would you stand, becoming again?


In Paarajika, where a Bhikku lost his state of Bhikku, it is described that homosexuality is one of the reason to lost the state of Bhikku.

If other monk is accidently falls over another Bhikku while sleeping, the Bhikku should stay without shake his body. The Bhikku who shake his body will loose the state of Bhikku.

  • 4
    Just to clarify, homosexuality as a preference is not a parajika; having homosexual sex (or any sex) is. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 0:51
  • Please cite references. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 23:49

1st of all Buddhism does not prohibit or have anything against being gay. But Hethorosexuality is unwholsome as it is rooted in desire, though lay people may engage in such activities, within Sila. Homosexuality activity needs to have stronger attraction than is Hethorosexual avtivity, which is more unwholsome. When engaging in any sexsual activity if compaired to a fall, Hetrosexuality say is a 3 foot fall, hence you get hurt in the long run less, Homosexuality is a 6 foot fall, which you you are likely to get more hurt by this in the long run than Hethorosexuality, as weight of attaction is stronger between partners. Incest is more grave like say a 9 foot fall. There will be future society when this also may become accepted, according to the quote below. In each case the attachment is relative. Also historically hetrosexsual people have been less liberal, but current liberal practices have more attachment than in the past so more unwholesome mind moments.

Any form of sexual attraction including being gay is based on desire which is unwholesome and result experiences which are painful in the future. Buddhism deals with correcting you metal tendencies by getting rid of the roots which creates misery. This is done through practicing Vipassana and is a gradual process. Through Vipassana you can transcend any sexual preferences and orientation. To get more insights into this it is best you take a course at: https://www.dhamma.org or http://www.internationalmeditationcentre.org/

See: Saññoga Sutta

Homosexuality is considered a deviant practice. This is rooted in excessive lust.

Now, bhikshus, amongst those humans whose life-span was 500 years, three things were widespread,

that is, abnormal lust, excessive desire and deviant conduct.

With the increase of abnormal lust, excessive desire and deviant conduct,

the life-span of beings declined, their beauty declined, too.

For these humans whose life-span and beauty were declining, whose lifespan was 500 years, that of some of their children was 250 years, and some 200 years.

More lust in deviant practices is worse off that non deviant pratice like hetrosexuality, which in some cases in the past may have been less rooted in desire, but both are rooted in unwholesomeness.

See: Cakka,vatti Siha,nāda Sutta

According to the Dīgha Commentary, here “abnormal lust” (adhamma,raga) refers to incest, that is, “lust between mother and mother’s sister and father’s sister and maternal uncle’s wife and other such improper situations” (mata matuccha pituccha matulanī ti adike ayutta-t,thane rago); “neurotic desire” (visama,lobha) refers to excessive greed by way of consuming things (paribhoga,yuttesu pi thanesu atibalava,lobho, in other words, excessive materialism and consumerism); and “deviant practices” (miccha,dhamma) refer to sexuality “between men and men, women with women.” (DA 3:853)

Is is bit unclear as to whether this is a transgression of morality but it is considered less ideal than being straight. Being straight also is based on unwholesome roots of attachment. In any case lack of fidelity and cheating in a sexual relationship would be a moral transgression.

Also Buddhism do not hold any specific attitudes towards anything as such but your choice of action is shaped by the expected results of a action or view which you cling onto. Has iterated before, homosexuality is a result of excessive lust, one should approach these practices more cautiously and perhaps practice meditation to overcome lust. If you die with lust the chancesare that your next birth will be bad.

Though in the time of the Buddha these practices would have been there this would not have been widespread as now due to longevity during the period would have resulted in the amount of lust would have been less. Hence would have not come up much. If you look at resent history homosexuality this was not wide spread as it is now.

Having said this you should not have prejudice or negative attitude towards homosexuals. This could lead to you creating negative Karma for your self if you follow through with any action.

  • "Homosexuality is considered a deviant pratice. This is rooted in excessive lust." Where in the Saññoga Sutta or any sutta does it say the above quote or anything like it? Are you implying homosexuals have more lust than heterosexuals?
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 15:45
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    “deviant conduct” (miccha,dhamma) as homosexuality, ie, sex “between men and men, women with women.” Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 17:04
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    that is, abnormal lust, excessive desire and deviant conduct. - Cakka,vatti Siha,nāda Sutta. This is not in Saññoga Sutta which is reference to the 1st paragraph while Cakka,vatti Siha,nāda Sutta is reference to the next. Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 17:23
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    This is from a early commentary. Like with any book some commentaries may have errors. In this case I do not think so as to majority is to be straight and homosexuality is the exception or which is deviating from the main stream. Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 0:34
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    This answer has been downvoted to -6 and has recently been flagged as offensive. Maybe you could delete it. Or if you're willing to edit it, I suggest two changes to try to make it less offensive: 1) quote whatever exact (Pali?) word is used in the original, instead of saying "deviant" (because "deviant" can be understood has having some offensive connotations in English); 2) instead the passive voice "is considered", specify more precisely who or what considers that, i.e. perhaps it's just you ("I consider it") ... or if it's not you, is it perhaps some-or-other commentary that says that?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 16:55

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