A call out to Sikhs around the world

Dear Sikh brothers and sisters around the world,

We as a community often stand together in times of crisis and when we are made aware of people who need our support. I am now reaching out to all the Sikh communities, and challenging them to join the Pride events that are occurring around the world this month and to actively support your local LGBTQ community.

I have come across many LGBTQ Sikhs, who still have not ‘come out of the closet’ due to the intolerance within our community and I think it’s time we all began to actively support each other. I don’t claim to know what it would feel like to have to hide a certain part of ones identity, because people do not understand or do not accept your sexual orientation. However, as friend to the LGBTQ community, I can provide my support and challenge those who do not.

Similarly, this year the Khalsa Diwan Society, of Vancouver, also extended this hand of friendship and support during Vaisakhi in 2017; when they joined forces with the LGBTQ support group for South Asians, Sher Vancouver. The significance of this union was paramount given the religious importance of Vaisakhi. Together, this union between the Khalsa Diwan Sikh religious organization and the LGBTQ support group Sher Vancouver, they made a profound statement.

That statement was clear and a defining moment for many Sikhs around the world: that intolerance within the Sikh communities was unacceptable and the Sikh mandate is to support all people; in particular those being marginalized and oppressed in society. Let us embrace the union these two organizations have created and extend it around the world.

As a Sikh woman, I can understand why many LGBTQ find it difficult to come out and or discuss aspects of their life, because traditionally our community has been very homophobic. I can only imagine the pain that I have personally seen in some of my friends eyes when they talk about their experiences and fears as a LGBTQ Sikh.

I have Sikh friends who are part of the LGBTQ community, many still are or have been, at some point in time too afraid to ‘come out.’ As a friend, I have a responsibility to support them. I have a responsibility to stand for those who are afraid to speak out or to come out – As a good friend of mine once said “You don’t have to be gay to support the gay community, you just have to be human.”

There are many LGBTQ Sikh children and adults who are suffering, because they are being marginalized and sadly, in some cases being persecuted for their sexuality and we as community need to rally around them and give them the support that they need.

In light of all the hate and fear that has been coming forward this past year, there have also been many great acts of love and support from people. This month is also Pride month and is a time we all need to gather together in solidarity and support one another regardless of sexuality, race, gender, faith, caste, class or creed.

For all the people who have not ‘come out of the closet’ because they are afraid – show them, they need not to be afraid.

Perhaps, seeing Sikh men and women marching for their rights will give the LGBTQ Sikhs that are too afraid, the confidence to come out and to be themselves. Moreover, by showing support and marching during the pride parade you will also be actively challenging societal misconceptions of both the LGBTQ community and the Sikh community. Lastly, and most importantly it gives us all an opportunity to learn from each other.

We need to start embracing each other and supporting each other.

I challenge all Sikh men and women, whether you are LGBTQ or not, to support Pride this month and every other month.

I will be at the London Pride parade on July 8, 2017, and I hope to see many of you joining your local pride events.

Lastly, as a proud Canadian, I would also like to acknowledge the Canadian High Commission in London, U.K., for the very first time in history will be participating in the Pride London parade. In fact, I believe the Canadian embassy is the only embassy that is participating in this year’s pride parade – I will update if I hear of any other countries joining in, but until then… Go Canada Go!

Representation is important – Please share your support

Love is Love

Sunny Mangat

Twitter @mangat_sunny

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The F-word and the Canadian Government

Feminism has become the latest buzz word for the new Canadian government.

Many Canadians and the world witnessed the Prime Minister of Canada inadvertently “elbowing” female NDP MP Brosseau. Since then the term feminism, gender equality and gender based violence has been thrown around left, right and center. However, after many of you saw the footage, I think it is quite apparent there was no maliciousness and it was unintentional. Prime Minister Trudeau has since then publically apologized for his behavior and actions. Sadly, the media and much of the opposition want to use this accident to discredit Prime Minister Trudeau’s support for feminism.

What they are not talking about is why the confrontation took place, which is when a conservative MP appeared to be blocked by oppositional NDP MP’s, so the vote on the physician-assisted suicide bill could commence. This is when PM Trudeau got out of his seat in attempt to remove the blockade and have MP Brown seated. Amidst the Prime Minister’s attempt, female MP Brosseau was inadvertently elbowed by the Prime Minister. While, I think it safe to say in hindsight PM Trudeau should have stayed seated and allowed those ‘adults’ to do their jobs respectfully.

However, from that point on the Canadian government circus began. NDP leader Mulcair began screaming and yelling at PM Trudeau, “What kind of man elbows a woman. You’re pathetic” repeatedly as the PM went to apologize when he realized he may have elbowed Brosseau. However, what I found even more alarming was NDP MP Niki Ashton’s statement which addressed the public, House of Commons and PM Justin Trudeau after the incident (see video link below).

Although, MP Niki Ashton’s speech could have been seen as an impactful one – but it was not because her point of reference was the wrong one to use.

As a feminist, an advocate and researcher of victims of abuse I was quite disheartened and frankly angered by her statement in the House of Commons. She stated that “If we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that we recognize that young women in this space need to feel safe to come here and work here.” While that is true, she manipulated the situation and used feminism in her attempt to discredit the PM. If we applied a “gendered lens” (another buzz word) it is still evident that the incident was not directly related to female safety. MP Brosseau was not targeted by the PM because she was a woman, it was simply an accident.

More importantly, does Niki Ashton know how many young girls and women are under constant scrutiny when they report abuse? How many of them are questioned about the validity of the abuse they have endured or still enduring? How many are never believed? Niki Ashton’s statement in the House of Commons is the very crux of why many young girls and women claims of abuse are dismissed, ignored or not believed.

The meaning of feminism is for equality, for the rights of both men and women to be respected. I am constantly defending feminism and her statement made it just that much harder. Feminism is not about being boisterous or making unwarranted claims or ignoring all other elements to fit your personal agenda.

As a woman who sits in the House of Commons she has the power to give voice to young girls and women, to inspire and to make change – she is a role model. I urge her and all the other members of parliament not to use the victims of abuse or feminism to propagate your own personal and party interests – that is the very opposite of what feminism is truly about.

A personal note to MP Niki Ashton – It was through the hard work of feminism and feminist that has given you the opportunity to sit in the House of Commons today. Please respect feminism – particularly if you choose to use feminism as the backbone for your arguments in the House of Commons.

A reminder to all our Members of Parliament, remember who you work for – not yourself, not your party but the public. With this epic charade that occurred in the House of Commons, you lost sight of what you were all there for. This is your time to serve your people with respect and dignity as you are the representatives of Canada.

Video footage link to “incident” that took place in House of Commons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4DJjuO9n7E

MP Niki Ashton’s addressing the House of Commons http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/05/18/niki-ashton-justin-trudeau-feminist_n_10036422.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics&ir=Canada+Politics&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

Sunny Mangat

Twitter mangat_sunny