Open letter: Anyone who attempts to 'other' gay people is not expressing Sikh values
By Guest Contributor
1st October 2019

Earlier this year, BBC Bake Off contestant Rav Bansal came out as gay, saying he no longer wanted to hide his sexuality. Last week he revealed he had received a homophobic letter from a Sikh who said that after seeing his coming out story, they would not support his "lustful behaviour" or "perverse lifestyle".

This letter is a response to that incident.

by Ryan Singh Kohli & Harinder Singh

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for taking the time to write to Rav. We cannot allow your letter to go unanswered.

You suggest that Rav’s sexual identity is incompatible with his Sikh identity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rav is an inspiration to all, including Sikhs.

Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikh faith, taught us everything we need to know about developing the Sikh worldview and about our belief system. We must really take the time to understand the wisdom that he gave us as the world commemorates the Guru’s 550th “Illlunination day.”

Homosexuality has been a fact of life since the dawn of time. Guru Nanak Sahib gave us the wisdom and the tools to understand the part it has to play in a Sikh’s identity.

At the centre of Guru Nanak Sahib’s message is IkOankar. But what does this mean? It conveys the central Sikh paradigm of “oneness” - the interconnected nature of all humans with the 1Force and with each other.

IkOankar is the ultimate expression of unity and the ultimate rejection of divisiveness. The 1Force is within each one of us and everyone around us. Our life’s purpose as Sikhs is to invoke that oneness within ourselves and within everyone and everything around us.

Anyone who promotes divisiveness and otherness is not living the IkOankar principle. Anyone who attempts to ‘other’ gay people or label them as having a perverse lifestyle is not expressing Sikh values borne out of IkOankar: Oneness.

Anyone who tells their children that it is unnatural for people to be gay is not helping their children understand the concept of unity which is at the heart of the Sikh faith.

I am sure that you have recited IkOankar countless times before. All that we ask is that you think carefully about their meaning and let it enter your consciousness. Once the IkOankar principle is really understood you will realise that any gay man or woman can self-identify as a Sikh.

Rav could have kept quiet about his sexual orientation. He chose to tell the world because he wanted to make it easier for other Sikhs to be open about all parts of their identity. By doing so he is promoting unity and oneness.

He is leading the way by showing us that there is absolutely nothing incompatible about being gay and a Sikh. Sexuality does not define whether you are a Sikh or not; spreading hate and division certainly does.

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahiguru Ji Ki Fatih (Sovereign is of Awe-Wisdom, Victory is of Awe-Wisdom)

Ryan Singh Kohli is a barrister specialising in human rights, public law and judicial review.
Harinder Singh is co-founder of the Sikh Research Institute.

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