On December 21 members of Vancouver’s queer community and their allies met in response to comments made by Balwant Singh Gill, a high profile leader in BC’s Sikh community.
In the December 15 edition of the Vancouver Sun he is quoted as saying:
“I hate homosexuality. Most Sikhs believe homosexuality is unnatural and you can’t produce kids through it. And secondarily, no major religion allows it.”
Most in attendance, including Alan Herbert, felt the comments were unacceptable and merit a response from the queer community. Herbert believes Gill should apologise not only to the queer community but also to the Sikh community.
“Since he is portrayed in the Vancouver Sun or identified in the Vancouver Sun as being a leader of the Sikh community — and he hasn’t been authorised by the Sikh community to make such statement — he also owes an apology to the Sikh community for having misrepresented them.”
Kevin Dale McKeown, however, does not think Gill should apologise for expressing his beliefs.
“But I think this offers an opportunity for us to offers come clarification about the Sikh religion’s vies. We know what Judaism has to say about homosexuals, we know what Christianity believes about homosexuals and in most regards know what Islam feels about homosexuality. But I don’t, at least, know the Sikh religion’s views.”
For some attendees, including Fatima Jaffer, the article was not just about a homophobic remark.
“There were a lot of inflammatory things in that article and the focus for me was: I’m angry as a lesbian, I’m angry as an immigrant to see such an obviously immigrant hating article. I knew what else was going on in the community; I knew the Vancouver Sun has an agenda against refugee rights.”
The group, which as of yet has no name, plans to meet again in the new year to plan a response which may include a letter to Gill and the Vancouver Sun.