November 27, 2012 in General
Recently, National List MP Khawaljit Singh Bakshi has offended two advocates of¬†marriage equality¬†through asking ignorant questions about it. Lest it be thought that Mr Bakshi’s views are somehow representative of Sikhism, I’ve decided to cite a more balanced account from the World Sikh Organisation of Canada.
On 13 July 2005, Mr Ajit Singh Sanota and Ms Anne Lowthian appeared before the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on behalf of the World Sikh Organisation of Canada. The subject was Canada’s Bill C-38, which eventually became its Civil Marriage Act 2005 and opened the door for Canadian marriage equality. WSOC is a respected organisation that advocates for Sikh religious freedom, human rights and civil liberties within Canada and represents 400,ooo Canadian Sikhs. It has represented its community on issues such as carriage of ceremonial kirpan knives within schools, Royal Canadian Mounted Police dress code regulations and Sikh religious turban use, Sikh turban use and cycle helmet laws, air carrier security issues, worker’s compensation, immigration, refugee and asylum issues and organ and tissue donation.
Mr Sanota and Ms Lowthian clarified their faith’s belief in a genderless god based on the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib and his successor gurus, the Rehat Mayada or Sikh Code of Conduct, and the opinions of the Akhal Takhat in Amritsar.
However, while the Sikh diaspora has considerable respect for the Amritsar gurdwara on most issues, the World Sikh Association of Canada strenuously disassociated itself¬† from the Jathedar Vedanti’s opposition to Canadian civil marriage equality, arguing that he was acting on personal prejudice and that Sikh scientists, engineers, lawyers, athletes and professionals did not share them. The World Sikh Organisation of Canada cited the earlier selfless dedication to religious pluralism and diversity of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who was willing to die in order to safeguard Hindu religious beliefs and religious pluralism within India.¬†
WSOC supported civil marriage equality in Canada and did so because mainstream Sikh belief and practise centres on tolerance, pluralism, acceptance and broadmindedness. They sound like exemplary representatives of their faith and good, responsible and conscientious multicultural Canadian citizens. Their wise and considered words are a credit to their faith.
Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs: 13 July 2005: Hearings on Bill C-38 (Civil Marriage Act 2005): http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/381/lega/21evb-e.htm?comm_id=11&Language=E&Parl=38&Ses=1
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