Homosexuality and Sikhism

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The religious bodies of Sikhism do not teach that homosexuality is "unnatural and ungodly". The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, does not explicitly mention homosexuality.

Official Views in Modern Sikhism

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the highest temporal authority to some Sikhs, recently condemned homosexuality while reminding visiting Sikh-Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs) of their religious duty to oppose same-sex marriage.[1] In a report published in March 2005, Vedanti said, "The basic duty of Sikh MPs in Canada should be to support laws that stop this kind of practice [homosexuality], because there are thousands of Sikhs living in Canada, to ensure that Sikhs do not fall prey to this practice." Speaking of MPs in favour of such relationships he continued, "The Sikh religion would never accept such MPs. Nobody would support such a person having such dirty thoughts in their mind because it is against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature. Sikhs around the world must maintain fidelity to these religious teachings," he argued, "and no politician is exempt".[2]

The supreme Sikh religious body, the Akal Takht, has issued an edict condemning gay marriage, and Vedanti's words were echoed by Manjit Singh Kalkatta, another highly respected Sikh preacher who sits on the governing body of the Golden Temple, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. "The advice given by the highest Sikh temporal authority to every Sikh is saying that it is unnatural and ungodly, and the Sikh religion cannot support it."[2]

Homosexuality in Scripture

The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the highest authority in the Sikhism, it is seen as the 11th and eternal Guru. It serves as a guide to Sikhs on how to live positive lives, and details what behavior is expected of all Sikhs. It is seemingly silent on the subject of homosexuality; however, married life is encouraged time and time again in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Whenever marriage is mentioned, it is always in reference to a man and a woman. Some Sikhs believe that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the complete guide to life, and if a marriage between two of the same sexes is not mentioned, it is therefore not right. The counterargument to this is that man and woman are only mentioned in this way to give light to the relationship of the soul and the soul force as being one. This denies gender and sex as an issue. Thus, Sikhism is more concerned with ones attainment of enlightenment rather than habitual desires such as sexuality. True love is attained through the Guru and no man speaks on behalf of the Guru as the Granth is open to interpretation and misrepresentation.

There are five vices (habitual desires) outlined in the Guru Granth Sahib that one should try to control. One of these vices is lust, and some Sikhs believe that homosexual thoughts and behaviour are just manifestations of lust. However, Sikhs that are more accepting of homosexuality claim that this is equally applicable to heterosexuals. These same Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak's emphasis on universal equality and brotherhood is fundamentally in support of the human rights of homosexuals.

Views on homosexuality tend not to be a primary concern in Sikh teachings, as the universal goal of a Sikh is to have no hate or animosity to any person, regardless of race, caste, color, creed, gender, or sex.

Family Living

One of Sikhism's underlying values is family living. Sikhs are expected to live in a family environment in order to conceive and nurture their children in order to perpetuate God's creation. Any alternative manner of living is discouraged, (see Prohibitions in Sikhism) including a celibate lifestyle. Many Sikhs have interpreted this to mean that homosexuality, which cannot result in procreation, is unnatural and against God's will. This is sometimes seen as a Catholic influence on Sikhism, which believes in natural law, "what is natural is what is moral".

Many Sikhs who have homosexual desires will try to overcome what they believe to be lust by marrying a member of the opposite sex and having children. This has led to a belief among many Sikhs that there are no homosexual Sikhs. This belief can, in turn, cause distress to those Sikhs who do find themselves attracted to members of the same sex.

Like liberals from other faiths and backgrounds, Sikhs who support homosexuality believe that it's not unnatural, but is normal for a minority of adults. These Sikhs stress that homosexuality is not discussed nor specifically banned in any of the writings of the Guru, and that the family lifestyle the Guru encourages can be cultivated by two members of the same sex. In fact, the Guru's silence on homosexuality has led to a history of ambivalence on the topic.