On the 25th of March 2018 at the AGM of the BUB (Buddhist Union of Belgium) held at Nalanda Institute in Brussels Samita ASBL’s recognition as a full associated member of this Belgian Buddhist umbrella organisation has been on the agenda. Danny Buysse and Anagarika Sabbamitta represented Samita at the meeting.
The meeting was hosted at a beautiful Tibetan temple and was held in two languages (French and Dutch) with the assistance of a simultaneous interpreter who did a fantastic job.
Samita had been a temporary member of the BUB without voting right for more than a year, and now the present member organisations voted for us to become a full member. This was a great moment for Samita ASBL!
Our membership in the BUB will help us to become better known in Belgium. First, the representatives of the other Buddhist organisations who come to the meetings know us in person, and we know about the activities of these groups. There are common interests with some of the groups, and it might be possible to share forces or resources on particular occasions. And also our events can more easily be spread around among Buddhists and other interested people in Belgium. By complying with the BUB’s organisational and ethical standards our organisation will have a more solid basis for official recognition. And in case the official recognition of Buddhism as a religion by the Belgian state will eventually become a reality this will also have advantages for Samita, even in the form of a financial support.
After Samita’s acceptance as a full member there was still another agenda point to be voted upon. This was then the first opportunity for Samita to participate in the voting process, and we were very proud to vote in favour of the BUB signing a statement called ‘Conversion therapy has no place in the modern spiritual world’.
Conversion therapy has no place in the modern medical and spiritual world.
Part A: January 2017 ‘Statement against conversion therapy’
1. We wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.
2. Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.
3. Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although, exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses.
4. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.
Part B: September 2017 additions ‘Conversion therapy has no place in the modern spiritual world’
5. If someone seeking spiritual help is in need of therapy, they should be referred free from pressure, well informed and only to confidential, safe and appropriately trained therapists.
6. The pathologising by conversion therapy of certain sexual orientations or gender identities has no medical justification and is therefore sometimes referred to as ‘a cure for an illness that does not exist’. Medical diagnosing should never be misused to justify personal and/or religious moral judgement.
7. Conversion therapy often takes place in a context of violence, such as humiliating and dehumanising language, hate speech or exposure to physical violence. Such forms of violence can never be justified, whether it is in a medical or a spiritual context or both.
8. Engaging with conversion therapy, directly or indirectly, is a failure to fulfil one of the core responsibilities medical and spiritual professionals have in common: to protect those who are vulnerable and seek our help. They need to be supported in safe and confidential ways that respect their identity and human dignity.