Dalai Lama condemns homophobia

The celibate Dalai Lama has thrown his considerable moral weight behind gay marriage, condemning homophobia and saying sex is fine as long as it is consensual.

The Buddhist monk offered his views on the hot-button social issue during his latest tour of the United States, where he was welcomed on Thursday in Washington by top lawmakers and offered the customary prayer that opens each Senate session.

The Dalai Lama, in an interview, said that gay marriage was up to each government and was ultimately “individual business”.

“If two people – a couple – really feel that way is more practical, more sort of satisfaction, both sides fully agree, then okay,” he told an online talk show by veteran radio and television host Larry King.

Related: Myanmar couple in ‘first gay wedding’

Tin Ko Ko (R) and Myo Min Htet pour champagne at their wedding reception in Yangon on March 2, 2014

Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet exchanged rings in an upmarket Rangoon hotel Sunday, in the latest sign of changing social mores in the Southeast Asian nation as it emerges from the shadow of military dictatorship.

The marriage does not enjoy any legal status but followed the customs of other Myanmar weddings, with the two men arriving in solemn procession followed by six groomsmen in front of some two hundred guests.

“My family accepted me. I am so glad that my parents were understanding… but he had to overcome many difficulties from his family,” said Tin Ko Ko, 38, of his partner in an emotional speech.

The pair, who both work for rights groups, have lived together for 10 years without publicly declaring their relationship.

Same-sex relations are criminalised under the nation’s colonial-era penal code.

While the law is not strictly enforced, activists have long complained of harassment and discrimination.

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