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Homosexuality in Shinto has a varied past of periods of acceptance and rejection. Unlike other religions, Shinto is very decentralized and non-dogmatic and thus there is no definitive religious ruling on homosexuality.

Homosexuality in Japanese societyEdit

Shinto and Japanese society are tightly bound together, each shaping the other. This, in combination with the flexibility of the Shinto, has meant that the acceptance or rejection of homosexuality in Shinto reflects attitudes in Japanese society. Historically, homosexuality was acceptable in Japanese society, especially in the Warrior class and later the Middle class. With increased contact with Western nations in the 19th Century, Japanese society adopted the view that homosexuality was uncivilized and rejected it. Homosexuality was rarely seen as immoral, but rather as socially unacceptable. Shinto views on the family and social responsibility became a justification for this rejection.

In recent years, homosexuality has become more acceptable in Japanese society as many people believe that science has shown that it is completely natural for a minority of adults to be attracted solely to members of the same sex. Again, this social transition has manifested itself in the Shinto. Socially conservative and progressive Shintoists may both believe that their religion is a vindication for their beliefs on homosexuality.

Shinto beliefsEdit

Japan has a very collectivist society, and this is reflected in Shinto. Shintoists are expected to do what is best for the whole of society even if it will disadvantage themselves. Tradition is seen as extremely important to society and maintenance of tradition is expected of all Shintoists. The family is seen as the mechanism by which tradition is preserved.

Many social conservatives believe that reproduction is essential so that tradition may be transferred to the next generation. Since homosexuality cannot result in reproduction it is seen as a means by which tradition might be ended. Other social conservatives believe that homosexuality itself is nontraditional and bad for society as a whole.

Social progressives believe that because most adults are heterosexual, tradition could not be destroyed solely through homosexuality. Homosexual couples may adopt children and pass their traditions on to the next generation without biologically reproducing. Many believe that traditions are meant to change as society changes. This is exemplified by the fact that while homosexuality was traditionally acceptable in the past, increased contact with the West and Western attitudes changed what was traditional.

Shinto is also concerned with respect for nature. Socially conservative Shintoists may argue that homosexuality is fundamentally against nature's law in that it does not result in reproduction. Socially progressive Shintoists point out that science has shown that homosexuality is completely natural for a minority of adults and even animals.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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