Kids Corner

Roundtable

Homosexuality and Sikhism:
A Personal Perspective
The Roundtable Open Forum # 90

by GURMUKH SINGH [United Kingdom]

 

 

 

" ... much of Sikh teaching is couched in metaphors from family life. Even the adoration of God is explored in terms of the closest relationship that humans can comprehend - that between a man and a woman. The heterosexual relationship is definded as sacred in Sikhism; an honest life is described as the first duty - the primary religion of humans ...." [Dr. I.J. Singh] 

 

Gurbani, the Guru’s Word in the Guru Granth, the Sikh Scripture, places stress on the control of five forces in human nature, which, when not controlled through self discipline, become five human vices. These are:

kaam: lust or uncontrolled sexual desire;
krodh: uncontrolled anger (gussa as referred to by Bhagat Farid);
lobh: greed, the desire to hoard (mostly) un-earned wealth or to possess another’s wealth/ property;
moh: excessive attachment, ultimately the cause of much grief at the loss of those near and dear; and,
ahankaar or haumai: ego, conceit or self-centredness.

There is no belief in an evil entity such as a devil or satan in Sikhi; only the above five forces (panch soorbir or five "mighty warriors") that each human being is constantly at war with. For that reason, a Sikh is constantly seeking the Guru’s support to fight and defeat them.

Yet, it may be argued that all these five life forces serve the needs of the human society, if limited to their disciplined and controlled forms:

sex (kaam) within the bounds and discipline of marriage for procreation; 

just anger (replacing uncontrolled wrath), for example in dharam yudh (righteous and just war), or in defence of human dignity and the weak;

the good practice of thrift and saving (replacing greed or lobh) from one’s honest earnings for the rainy day and economic wellbeing;

a detached but caring, loving and responsible attitude towards own family and relationships, as distinct from excessive attachment (moh); and,

self-respect (swai-maan) for a positive attitude to succeed in life and never to accept defeat.

Gurbani and Sikh tradition say much more about each of the five life forces, kaam, krodh, lobh, moh and ahankar, to show how they can be harnessed through Guru's Grace (kirpa or nadar ).

These forces can be channelled to serve the needs of human society and for developing rounded personalities.

Yet all the five life forces are like fires which can consume and destroy the human being physically and spiritually, if allowed to enslave us.

Our concern here is with the first force, kaam or uncontrolled sexual desire; and the urge to satisfy it under the mistaken belief that the fire of sex can be extinguished without self discipline. Nay, the more this fire is fed, the higher shoot its devouring flames!

The antidotes for kaam, as for all human vices and ailments, are constant God awareness (naam simran) and total dedication to service in humility (seva) of Lord’s creation and fellow human beings. Both, simran and seva (miri-piri or temporal-spiritual aspects) being the twin track approach to life as one follows the path of Sikhi.

Kaam can have many shapes and its identification with different leanings of hetero, homo and lesbian sexuality, polygamy, child abuse, incest, bestiality and abuse in other forms, are artificial. It is important to confront the naked truth and nature of kaam itself.

More so in the context of homosexuality and the so called same sex unions between “consenting adults”, now aspiring towards formal “marriages”. Where does it all end?

It is not surprising that the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s adviser on family issues, Reg Bailey, is reported to have said about the move to legalize same-sex marriage, that “the proposed reforms would risk polygamy and marriage between siblings.” This is a wake-up call for human society.

Regrettably, modern social freedoms and lack of any moral discipline, runaway consumerism driven by competing market forces and lobbying power, have weakened any religious or social control over these destructive forces in human nature.

There is nothing new about homosexuality as a form of sexual abuse of which no society or individual has been proud, i.e. until recent times! Like most malpractices and abuse of the sacred human body - this "temple of God" according to gurbani - or vulnerable groups like children, it has remained underground or confined to prisons or cults. That is no longer the case, and world religions have to face this challenge according to their codes of conduct, and advise and guide society accordingly.

The Institution of Marriage in Sikhi

The institution of married life is at the core of Sikh religious teaching.

Sikh religion rejects celibacy and asceticism and condemns promiscuity, regardless of sexual leanings.

Sexual relationship is allowed wihin the bounds of marriage, which unites a man and a woman as "one soul in two bodies", with the goal of begetting and raising children in a caring and loving family environment. 

The mother and father in a family provide necessary gender role models, sustenance and security for children to grow up as responsible world citizens. A heterosexual family environment would influence a growing child's healthy concept of sexuality and its place in human society. In my understanding of Sikhi, only the heterosexual family-unit can provide all the basic needs of growing children. 

There are numerous references to "dhan" (wife) and "pir" (husband)  GGS:435,436,483,770,788,1263 ...

Most gurbani students would agree with Dr. I.J. Singh when he wrote," ... much of Sikh teaching is couched in metaphors from family life. Even the adoration of God is explored in terms of the closest relationship that humans can comprehend - that between a man and a woman. The heterosexual relationship is defined as sacred in Sikhism ...

For example, it would take some stretch of imagination to suggest that "ek jyot doay moorti" [GGS:788] - one light in two bodies - refers to union of two male or two female bodies!

Sex of any variety outside matrimony is strictly forbidden. Sikh teachings caution men and women against over indulgence in sex oriented thought and activity (kaam). Self discipline and control is taught through constant God awareness (naam simran) and social activism (seva).

The Gurdwara

Sikhism is an inclusive religion and the gurdwara is open to all, regardless of gender, religion, sexual leanings or any form of handicap. This means that it would be against the spirit of Sikhi to discriminate against anyone for being homosexual, by barring him or her from the gurdwara, i.e., from taking part in holy congregation or partaking food in the community kitchen (langar).

However, in my view, a self-proclaimed  and practising homosexual should not be regarded as the ideal person to teach, preach, lead congregational prayers or take part in any managerial role of a gurdwara.

The above would apply equally to those who do not fully subscribe to and practise the Sikhi way of life, which rejects celibacy and any opting out of life.

Conclusion

I believe that the Sikh religion promotes a virtuous, chaste and monogamous heterosexual marriage and productive social life. An opt-out and monastic life style, and/or one which does not engage in social activism, is rejected. Only heterosexual marriage can provide a healthy environment for bringing up children and for catering to needs of human society. 

For the above reasons, in January 2005, the Jathedaar (custodian) of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Amritsar (Punjab) - the highest seat of Sikh temporal authority for Sikhs, issued an edict denouncing same-sex marriages, and urging the worldwide Sikh community not to allow such marriages to take place in any gurdwara. 

 

THE ROUNDTABLE OPEN FORUM # 90 

POINTS TO PONDER

 

Do you agree with the author and his interpretation of Sikhi as it applies to homosexual relationships?

Medical science confirms that homsexuality for many is not a life-style choice; they are born thus, and that it is not a "condition" that is "curable". Does that mean that they should then be required to lead lives of "quiet desperation", and remain closeted in order to be able to practice Sikhi?

Or do we wish them to abandon Sikhi?

Or should Sikhs abandon them en masse?

Or that they start their own gurdwaras?

 

[Edited for sikhchic.com]

March 20, 2012

 

Conversation about this article

1: Preeti (New Jersey, U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 6:15 AM.

I am still not sure about this issue, and I am keeping an open mind. But you haven't helped much, because there isn't much logic in what you've said ... and there's nothing convincing you have cited from Guru Granth Sahib which convinces me that it is okay to discriminate against homosexuals. If procreation is the mainstay of heterosexuality, what about couples who cannot have children, or do not want any? Should they be allowed to marry? How about men and women who medically cannot procreate? All I know is that Sikhi is unique in that it is a faith based on common sense and logic. I'm sorry but your arguments haven't provided any.

2: Raj Inder Singh (June Lake, California, U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 6:19 AM.

Love is love. It is time to truly understand and not to limit our perception. A good man or woman is simply that, and deserves respect to be their true self.

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 20, 2012, 6:30 AM.

Sexuality is a completely personal issue, as is marriage. In Sikhism, there are NO questions asked when we enter a gurdwara and this fact makes the House of Nanak uniquely inclusive, compassionate and welcoming. ANYONE can do paatth from the Guru Granth Sahib, perform an ardaas, serve karrah parshad or langar ... even a criminal! Anyone who suggests otherwise is on the wrong bus!

4: Charanjit Singh Sandhu (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), March 20, 2012, 6:39 AM.

Homosexuality has been around for thousands of years. Subcontinental mythology has flirted with the idea and has even mentioned stories that depict this lifestyle. Essentially what I am trying to say is that I believe the Gurus were aware of this practice. If Guru Nanak proclaimed that women are to be treated as equals, in a time when that idea was thought to be blasphemous, why wouldn't he acknowledge homosexuality as something that needs to be accepted within Sikhism? After Guru Nanak, we had nine living Gurus in a span of three centuries, and not one Guru spoke about homosexuality. So when I hear people say that Sikhism accepts homosexuality and same-sex relationships, I am left shaking my head. What you have here are individuals who read between the lines and try to interpret Sikhism to fit their own needs. In conclusion, there is no place for homosexuality in Sikhism.

5: Sunny Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 20, 2012, 7:02 AM.

I do agree with this article and the views expressed by the author. But it is very important to note that a Sikh should not discriminate against homosexuals in terms of verbal and physical abuse, or exclusion from society. Sex, in its true form, is only for the purpose of procreating. Those heterosexual couples that cannot procreate have adoption as a solution.

6: Amrit Kahlon (Jalandhar, Punjab), March 20, 2012, 7:13 AM.

When you talk about natural sex, it has to be between a man and a woman. Because a natural way is always fruitful. And the homosexual way is not fruitful. It is just an action driven by lust. Any act without any actual purpose or without the hope of any fruit (procreation) is just 'karam kaand'.

7: Narayan Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), March 20, 2012, 7:34 AM.

If what Sunny and Amrit say (in # 5 and 6 above) is to hold any water, then those heterosexual couples who cannot procreate and have to resort to adoption, shouldn't be allowed to have sex. Because then, based on your arguments, sex for them would be as bad and unnatural as that between homosexuals. What you've both said makes absolutely no sense. I am a heterosexual. I must say I've yet to come across a single intelligent argument for discriminating against homosexuals. Please, please do not distort Sikhi to somehow accommodate your warped arguments. There's simply no enlightenment on this issue until one sets aside one's prejudices and biases and approaches it with an open mind.

8: Sunny Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 20, 2012, 8:13 AM.

Narayan, that point that I am making is that sex should not turn into lust for an individual. Sex can only be used for lust in the case of homosexuality. Heterosexual couples or individuals can also commit lust. I am not suggesting who can and cannot have sex. So anyone who has uncontrolled sexual desires, and has sex for lust should be considered a sinner. So this logic applies to heterosexuals at the point when procreation is not the intention, and homosexuals therefore only engage in sex for lust.

9: Roopinder Singh Bains (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), March 20, 2012, 8:22 AM.

Guru Nanak in Japji: "sabhnaa jee-aa kaa ik daataa so mai vissar na jaa-ee" - 'There is one Giver for all, whom I may never forget!' And then, there is: "aa-ee panthi sagal jamaatee ..."We are all class-mates, friends, equals ...!"

10: Narayan Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), March 20, 2012, 8:53 AM.

I am sorry, Sunny ji, but you are still insulting intelligence. Now you say that non-procreative heterosexual sex is fine, as long as it is not lust (!?) but ANY homosexual sex is lustful. Just listen to yourself, buddy ... no make sense! Please do not associate Sikhi with such ridiculous statements.

11: Ajitpal Singh (Vienna, Virginia, U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 8:59 AM.

Let's not confuse sex with lust. Sex is part of lovemaking and in essence a part of love itself. If it were intended only for procreation, that would mean every Sikh should have sex just once or twice in their life times (or as many children they intend to have). That doesn't quite sound rational to me. As far as homosexuality is concerned, I may not understand why a person chooses to follow such a lifestyle, but as a Sikh I can certainly respect his/her choice. As long as it doesn't impede others in any way, every person should be able to choose for himself. There is no good or valid argument against it yet, let's not make up one in the name of religion.

12: Dilbeer Singh (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), March 20, 2012, 9:05 AM.

To begin with, let me clarify one thing: I'm heterosexual. Now, to my point: given the state of the world, population explosion and all, we need a moratorium on procreation. Let's simply ban all heterosexual sex for 20 years ... not because it is bad or sinful but because it is procreative. This way, with only homosexual sex allowed for a generation, it'll cut down on the population, cut down on some of the lust as well, and we'll get to study objectively and clearly if indeed there is anything wrong with homosexuality. Now, if you find what I'm saying a bit stupid, then, fellas! just listen to yourselves and your convoluted meanderings. YOUR arguments favoring heterosexual relationships, as opposed to the homosexual variety, are twice as stupid. Come up with something that makes sense - or shut up!

13: Rahul Bedi (New Delhi, India), March 20, 2012, 9:09 AM.

The article fails to cite references from Guru Granth Sahib that necessitate the presence of a mother and father as the ONLY means of having a successful marriage and family. This article and some comments above are the reflections of some rock-hard family, cultural and societal "values" fed to these people and do not depict what Sikhi stands for. We are not setting an example of equality and inclusiveness by this closed attitude; instead, we are perpetrating a crime. Not allowing homosexuals to marry is discriminatory and unscientific and anything having these two characteristics is surely not Sikhi. By the way, this article is a joke!

14: Harvind Kaur (U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 9:45 AM.

I would like the author to explain to me what he means by "monogamous heterosexual marriage and productive social life." While I appreciate all this focus on gurbani, you must remember that the life of the Gurus is also important to consider. How do you reconcile the multiple wives of Guru Gobind Singh and other Gurus? Some of those wives did not "bear fruit." So are these relationships not socially productive? The issue of kaam is present in all relationships hetero, homo or bi. Being in a relationship and sharing love can be defined as a householder's life. I don't believe anywhere in Sikhi there is a command to have children. In which case having a relationship regardless of type is just as much a grist jivan.

15: Bicky Singh (Ontario, Canada), March 20, 2012, 9:46 AM.

I would tend to agree with comments made by Ajitpal Singh in #11 that sex and lust are not the same thing. Lust is a state of mind where one is constantly thinking of someone in a manner to have (in most cases), non-consentual sex with. This constant thought can be detrimental to families as well as a person's well being. If one is constantly thinking of having sex, they are most likely not thinking of Waheguru or absorbed in naam. As Sikhs, we should not care about what happens in a person's bedroom (whether they be hetero- or homo-sexual) - that is their business and none of ours, period. Our religion and way of life have always been centered around an inclusion policy towards others rather than an exclusion one - take for example the seva that Bhai Kanhaiyya performed while serving water to the wounded enemy soldiers - "naa ko bairee nahee bigaanaa sagal sang ham ka-o ban aa-ee" [GGS:1299]. I believe we have to approach this topic in a similar fashion - to treat people (regardless of their sexual preferences) as equals. They should be able to perform any seva / service within a gurdwara and be entitled to serve on any gurdwara committee / management position. Having said all this and in reference to gurbani, there are several mentions of a bride and a groom to illustrate the bond between how a Sikh is to revere and serve Waheguru. How could this bond be illustrated if we talk of a homosexual couple? The notion of homosexuality (in my opinion) really peaked in the 1960's during the sexual revolution - true, there were homosexuals prior to this period, but it wasn't glorified as such then. Nowadays (and possibly why this article is appearing) is that homosexuality is becoming a fashion for people to "try new things" and to explore something that was taboo not too long ago. In conclusion, I personally do not support homosexuality, but we as human beings need to treat gays (and others that are different than us) as equals whether or not we agree with their views - it's simple as that. By the way, I too am heterosexual.

16: H. Singh (Canada), March 20, 2012, 9:49 AM.

There is nothing in gurbani that bans or denounces gay marriage. Kaam affects heterosexuals and homosexuals equally. Homosexuals can love and show affection just as heterosexuals can. Denying homosexuals the right to marry prevents them from gaining legal privileges reserved for a spouse. They are gay because that is how God made them. Who are we to pass judgement on God's creation?

17: R. Bedi (New Delhi, India), March 20, 2012, 11:22 AM.

@ Charanjit Singh Sandhu (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) who said "Gurus didn't mention anything about homosexuality". Well! they did not speak explicitly about abortion, divorce, contraception, inheritance rights and a host of other things. This does not mean that they agreed on the prevailing views on these subjects (if then in existence) or they were unaware or perhaps unconcerned about these 'trivial' issues. No, Sir! Apply the gurmukh mind and then think! And please explain this 'verdict' of yours: 'Homosexuality has no place in Sikhism.' What do you suggest we should do with the homosexual sangat?

18: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 20, 2012, 12:02 PM.

The Sikh Gurus did not have to mention homosexuality. It is not, and should not be, an issue with loving and enlightened souls.

19: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 12:51 PM.

We have discussed this topic many times. I agree with #3 and many others. There is no need to cite gurbani. Guru Granth Sahib is not a sex manual or a medical primer. The Gurus did not comment on the deviant life styles. Sexuality is not a religious matter except that gurbani condemns lustful behavior, in all cases. Gurbani teaches us to be compassionate. We need to shine the light of awareness and compassion on those segments of society that are suffering in the dark because they were shunned and labeled. This would contribute to a healthier society overall. But our attempt to accommodate deviant conditions should not translate into overreaction, that all lifestyles are essentially the same or that they are equally acceptable. Homosexuality is not a religious issue. Both sides need to keep Sikhi and religious marriage ceremony (Anand Karaj, for example) out of this equation.

20: G. Singh (United Kingdom), March 20, 2012, 1:37 PM.

I agree with Gurmukh Singh's article. It is based on gurbani and verses on kaam, even if no verses comment on homosexuality. There is an acceptance that male / female sex is natural; this keeps the species going. Homosexuality is believed by geneticists to stem from a mutant gene(s) - mutations drive evolution. However, it is a mutation that is destined to die out as homosexuals don't have children unless they are not true to themselves!

21: G. Singh (U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 3:34 PM.

My co-workers sometimes ask me if Sikhism says anything about homosexuality. My response is, "No, not really!" Their usual next question is, so is it accepted or rejected in Sikhism? To that I have to re-iterate that if gurbani does not mention anything about homosexuality, then whatever anyone's position on this subject is, it's only their own opinion. Same goes here! Consider this, we all accept that gurbani talks about Akal Purakh and His Creation. Therefore, we quickly jump to argue that since homosexuality is not "natural", it cannot be accepted per Sikhism. But ask any homosexual and they will tell you that it's not a choice but the way they are made by the same Nature. So, how can we reject their lifestyle if it was also part of Hukam? What I do wonder though is regarding individuals who were in heterosexual relationship for years before. Some even had marriages and kids and then they turn homosexual. Are they confused now or were they confused before?

22: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), March 20, 2012, 3:54 PM.

It's quite disturbing to see some of the responses here. Let the religions born in the desert worry about the "evils" or "wrongness" of homosexuality. It's a scientific fact that homosexuality occurs in nature and that it is perfectly normal. People here are using their experiences as heterosexuals to assume it's the norm. There is nothing in Sikhi that promotes homosexuality, but on that note, there is nothing which denounces it either.

23: R. Singh (Canada), March 20, 2012, 4:20 PM.

I agree with H Singh. I must point out that we are forgetting that the gurbani guidelines are for the positive working of society, where all receive their due respect and share of resources. If society today has changed, with visual media making everything public in short time spans, many subjects have come to the forefront, we need to be able to think and chalk out responses, not out of knee-jerk, age-old prejudices but out of thoughtful introspection, incorporating the new world we are constantly unraveling. We should not lock gurbani into out own mental prisons, when asked to face new situations.

24: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 20, 2012, 5:17 PM.

Perennially, the past always takes on the hue of the "Dark Ages". We should constantly move, progress, change, adjust ... it's what being a Sikh is all about.

25: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), March 20, 2012, 5:48 PM.

The problem with the world is that it is out to discipline others before discipling itself. I do not support or condone hetersexuals. Let my Creator and I be the judge of who I am. Let the Creator be the judge of who homosexuals are. If God created them that way, let us just learn to respect them as human beings. The only two people who should be disciplined for me are (a) I and (b) anyone who tries to physically/ mentally/ psychology hurt someone else. Our Gurus loved all - so should we.

26: Simon (London, United Kingdom), March 21, 2012, 2:24 AM.

There are many who have not commented, simply because the article is well written and self explanatory. The Gurus addressed the "root" cause or the influencing forces of human development, focus being on the five "demons" or "vices". Any deviation from "normal" development, due to the negative influences of the five, is not given any merit nor is it condemned, the results of inaction are left for the society that you live in and not gurbani.

27: Jagbeer Singh Khalsa (Birmingham, United Kingdom), March 21, 2012, 3:23 AM.

Where there's love - there's Love in His Name. As long as people are wasting their precious time and spiritual energies into being cultural (i.e., discriminating) instead of being spiritual, accepting and loving, no one - regardless of ethnicity or religion - will find love and acceptance in return. It is time that people understand this because discrimination of any kind hurts the people who are all God's Creation and are as loving, believing and hard-working as anyone else.

28: Aman (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), March 21, 2012, 1:30 PM.

I'm not surprised at some of the comments made on this forum. I like to believe that although Sikhism was intended to be a religion that accepts all, in actual practice we too can prove discriminatory to some. We are very quick to judge others. Some in the community won't even interact with our brothers and sisters from "other castes". Forget about homosexuals! Secondly, we tend to concentrate on the act of homosexual sex and not on the love that may be involved in a homosexual relationship. We don't dwell on the physical act of sex when discussing heterosexuals but when discussing homosexuals, we keep on mentioning that the physical act is not natural. Is the love natural? Love is universal. Love is God.

29: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), March 21, 2012, 5:25 PM.

A homosexual is a Sikh - he is human first, a sexual being second. Sex is an expression of human need and emotions. I have not met a Sikh who is openly gay but I am quite sure he does not feel any different from gays and lesbians from other cultures and spiritual leanings. I guess this might be the wrong time to mention the bisexuals amongst us. Discrimination of any kind from Sikh institutions against a gay person or couple is not only unnecessary but cruel.

30: Anildev Malhi (Malaysia), March 21, 2012, 6:01 PM.

No, I do not agree with the author. Homosexuals should never abandon Sikhi and neither should Sikhs abandon homosexuals. Anyone irrespective of caste/ creed/ gender/ religion/ political ideology or sexuality is welcome into any gurdwara. The Guru does not discriminate. We should not play the 'moral police' like other religions do. The fabric of Sikhi will not be destroyed by homosexuals but by those who get drunk, abuse drugs, etc. It's time for us to wake up and realize that ours is the most progressive religion.

31: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), March 22, 2012, 2:10 AM.

I am humbly grateful for all the comments. We are all Sikh-ing, i.e. self-learning in life through gurbani guidance. As I have noted elsewhere, "According to gurbani, we are all soul brides of One Lord, regardless of the male or female bodies we occupy. Love is expressed in gurbani for sister brides who have acquired the status of 'suhaagan' - the "butti sulakhni" with the proverbial "32 qualities." A holistic view of gurbani direction has to be taken. I usually avoid selective quoting of gurbani. There are numerous references to "dhan" (wife) and "pir" (husband) - e.g. GGS: 435, 436, 483, 770, 788, 1263, etc). For example, "ek jyot doay moorti" [GGS:788] - one spiritual light (spiritual union) between two physical bodies, is an example of Sikh teaching "couched in metaphors from family life" (Dr I J Singh). Now, one can interpret these metaphors according to one's own bias. My understanding is that whilst the "suhaagans" should embrace each other ("gull millo") spiritually as soul brides of the One Lord ("kant suhelria(n)"), that spiritual embrace should not extend to physical contact, except in a husband-wife relationship. And certainly not to same-sex "marriage". Expression of love in human relationships takes many forms. To repeat, "However, sexual leanings have to be controlled and channeled as spiritual love, which is free from lust." We can but only pray to Waheguru to grant us the will and the gift to be able to do that. Natural sexual leanings are not the issue here.

32: Sunny Garcha (London, England), March 22, 2012, 4:42 AM.

I am not sure I have an overriding position except that Sikhi says we must treat all with respect and compassion. If someone is homosexual, we cannot deny them the gift of Sikhi. Sikhi is between them and their Guru. However, something to ponder on: if the Guru Granth Sahib doesn't make any distinction (as some have implied), then can two practising homosexuals who live exemplary lives marry in a gurdwara?

33: Devinder Singh (India), March 22, 2012, 7:45 AM.

If we are to follow what the author states, then the question is: should we then stop also revering 'sants' who are celibate?

34: Baljit Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), March 22, 2012, 8:47 AM.

No 'sant' in Sikhi is required to be, or should be practicing celibacy as a religious observance. If he or she is, it contravenes Sikhi. For this and many other good reasons, Sikhs shouldn't be following 'godmen'. Those who do are merely regressing into demeaning Hindu practices from which we were liberated by our Gurus. It is our good fortune that we have been saved from the scam of celibacy which is often the mainstay of not only Hinduism but many other belief systems which fall within, for example, Christian, Jain and Buddhist folds. With respect to the topic at hand, claims that heterosexuality is better because it is procreative, or various suggestions as to what a gay person should or should not do in sexual practice, are mere red herrings. Religious institutions have long brutalized homosexuals and continue to retain bigoted views against them, without ever having laid out a logical foundation for doing so. [While, all the time, many priests were secretly and privately delving in homosexuality with gay abandon!] Nothing that the author of this article has said holds water. He himself states in comment # 31 above that "one can interpret these metaphors [scriptural passages] according to one's own bias" - which is exactly what he himself has done. All of which leaves us with one solution: it should be left to individual conscience, and the churches and religious types should not be allowed to meddle, having historically shown themselves to be totally irrational - and often criminal - on the subject.

35: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), March 24, 2012, 5:49 AM.

I have received understandable flac from some, if the impression given is that those with gay or any other sexual leanings cannot be good Sikhs. Not intended, and I shall be fine-tuning the wording before passing on to a website. Lord Singh of the Network of Sikh Organisations told Radio 4's "Today" programme that marriage equality was an "attempt by a vocal, secular minority to attack religion." He added, "We have total respect for gays and lesbians and we are delighted that there is a Civil Partnership Act. We believe that this gives gays and lesbians everything they need." I think, Lord Indarjit Singh has taken the right stand regarding gay "marriages". At comment #15, Bicky Singh is right about the timing of this article in response to Government consultation via a UK umbrella organisation.

36: Bobby Singh (London, United Kingdom), March 24, 2012, 2:17 PM.

Any Sikh that discriminates against or persecutes homosexuals has no right to complain about discrimination against himself, if it occurs. It's called hypocrisy! As for everything else, God is not so petty!

37: Gagan (Richmond, U.S.A.), March 25, 2012, 7:35 PM.

The author is not trying to express his hate of homosexuals (even though better language could have been used) but trying to express his feelings of the lack of sacredness of Gay marriage in Sikhi. That is fine (even though the same religious institutions who now feel gay marriage is not sacred, 100 years ago felt that Africans were animals who needed to be civilized), the problem for me arises when religious institutions (such as our Akal Takht) feel the need to issue a public statement denouncing gay marriage. It is okay to have our own opinions of how some people should not be allowed equal rights to participate in sacred spiritual activities but to publicly announce to an entire community is unnecessary (especially since there are much bigger issues that the community, Punjab, is facing; for example farmer suicides, highest rate of Aids in the world, high rate of alcohol consumption, potential of becoming of desert by 2025, and many more). If my Guru had felt the need to expel a group of people from this beautiful experience, he would have clearly stated it. However my Guru, in Raag Suhee (a raag of pure love) expresses the unification of two souls to God. Marriage is not about procreation, or sex, it is about finding someone who can help better you and help you reach Waheguru. Also, if you believe sex is only for procreation, every married couple should be monitored by the Akal Takht to ensure that that is only done for procreation. So much of bani is personal; it is for you to use to achieve a higher state of mind, not to manipulate it to justify your opinions on how others should practice their spirituality and live their life. Also, I'm curious to know how you feel about people who are homosexual becoming gyanis, or granthis, or perhaps a jathedar?

38: Charanjit (Pleasanton, California, USA), July 14, 2013, 12:22 AM.

If sex outside marriage is forbidden, then what are we going to do about self-pleasure? Are we going to deny it? Outlaw it? When you open the topic of sexuality, you cannot afford to get uncomfortable and shut off the debate. What about adultery? Are we going to deny that too? The explosion of unwed mothers around the world? Are they sinners? There are good reasons to encourage the heterosexual bond, but don't claim it is ordained by God. People have used sacred texts to deny rights to certain people for millennia. Muslims use their sacred text to view non-Muslims as infidels. So there! Christians use their sacred text to view non-Christians as the progeny of Satan. The author of the article is operating at that level of logic. Homosexuality is not something that one can choose or control. The reason the US Supreme Court recently asked the Federal Government to vacate the DOMA Act is because offering homosexual a domestic partnership instead of marriage was seen as a form of discrimination. Their rights were inferior to those of a heterosexual couple. I am delighted with the Supreme Court decision (even though I am heterosexual!) because it heals our communities by ridding an unnecessary form of stigma and discrimination. The rest of the world will follow the same course. The question for us is: Are we going to be dragged into that state kicking and screaming, or are we going to lead? I want to make a point about statements like, "If Guru Nanak had wanted to grant the same rights to homosexuals he would have said so". This shows an appalling lack of understanding of the how the Guru Granth Sahib came into being. Guru Nanak did not address the grievances of each and every caste either in his prose; he said that all men are equal. That should be enough for a true Sikh. Treat your homosexual brothers and sisters as your equal. Respect them. Give them the same rights, for eventually they will get those right. History is on their side.

39: Stuart (United Kingdom), September 30, 2013, 6:59 PM.

I am not a Sikh but was looking for the Sikh attitude to homosexuality. The reason for this is that I am a white British taxi driver and one of the other taxi drivers I talk to and like a lot is a Sikh. I don't know him that well but we always have a pleasant conversation. I find it really difficult when the subject of my wife comes up and never know what to say. He is well aware I live with someone but does not know that my wife is not my wife but the guy I love very deeply and have lived with for the past 22 years. I am deeply troubled that I still find it so difficult to just tell him. It is like having to come out of the closet all over again and I thought I had done that already. I did not choose to be gay and it would be a lot easier if I was not but I can honestly say that I have never ever had a sexual thought that involved a woman. I have been the way I am from the first moment I became aware of any sexual desire. This was not a lifestyle choice, it was how I was made by God. My life would have been a lot easier if this had not been so, but it is so and I and my family have accepted it. Please never think this is a choice, not for me anyway, it is the way I was made, something I have no control over. Should I have lived a lie and got married and been a miserable person and probably not a very good Father? Surely it was better that I met someone I love very deeply and wanted to spend the rest of my life with and have for over 20 years? I cannot believe that this devotion and respect for each other can be wrong, love is love and I believe God loves me for it. So why do I find it so difficult to just say to my Sikh acquaintance, "Oh, you mean Andrew?" I suppose I do still feel discrimination against me and I don't think that is right.

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A Personal Perspective
The Roundtable Open Forum # 90"









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