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Homosexuality in Zoroastrianism is, as in many other religions, a controversial topic. Orthodox Zoroastrians tend to favor the suppression of homosexuality in their community while more socially progressive Zoroastrians accept homosexuality. Generally, though, homosexuality is discouraged by a majority of Zoroastrians.

Homosexuality in scripture

The sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism is called the Avesta. It is made up of many parts written over many centuries. The oldest portion believed to be the writings of Zarathustra himself, are the Gathas. Within the Gathas, Zarathustra does not mention homosexuality at all, nor sexuality in general. Zoroastrians who reject the later writings in the Avesta as being corruptions of Zarathustra's original teachings believe this is proof that homosexuality is not sinful.

However, many Zoroastrians accept the entire Avesta as their religious guide, including the Vendidad, a collection of 22 Fargards or precepts concerned with religious purity (only very conservative Zoroastrians continue to abide by all of these laws). The Vendidad states:

"The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is a man that is a Daeva [demon]; this man is a worshipper of the Daevas, a male paramour of the Daevas"

This passage has been interpreted to mean that homosexuality is a form of demon worship and thus sinful. Ancient commentary on this passage suggests that those engaging in sodomy could be killed without permission from the Dastur.

Homosexuality and Zoroastrian culture

Some people speculate the reason why Zoroastrians tend to discourage homosexuality is not simply because of a scriptural prohibition, but from perceived tradition. Since present-day Zoroastrianism does not traditionally accept converts, some followers of the religion see reproduction as essential to maintain the community. A homosexual couple cannot reproduce sexually, whereas a heterosexual couple can. Some followers suggest that homosexuality should be discouraged as celibacy is. However, few Zoroastrian communities exclude members on the grounds that they may be, or are, homosexual. Upon his death, Freddie Mercury, a bisexual Parsi, was given a traditional Zoroastrian funeral service. Alexander Bard, a Swedish bisexual musician, has also been inducted into Zoroastrianism.

Additional readings

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