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Sikhi & Sexuality

State of the Panth – Report 6

Wednesday
,
9
September
2020

Sikhi & Sexuality

State of the Panth – Report 6

Wednesday
,
9
September
2020
State of the Panth
Sikhism
⟵ Back to articles

Sikhi & Sexuality

State of the Panth – Report 6

Wednesday
,
9
September
2020

Sexuality is a confusing and often avoided topic. It is generally relegated to being a "private" matter, and therefore not openly discussed or engaged with, even within close circles and small communities. Due to the taboo of discussing sexuality, many people struggle individually, often turning to religion for guidance or, more concretely, moral pronouncements.

Sexuality is a confusing and often avoided topic. It is generally relegated to being a "private" matter, and therefore not openly discussed or engaged with, even within close circles and small communities.

The focus of this report is to understand sexuality in the context of a Sikh worldview, from a Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to 1,212 self- identified Sikhs from 31 countries. The purpose of this survey was to gain  insight into Sikh thoughts and feelings surrounding sexuality today.

Overall, responses outlined a clear understanding that lust and sex are not synonymous — importantly, neither are sex and sexuality. There was also a clear consensus that Sikh institutions must play some role in providing nonjudgmental support and resources to Sikhs of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

This report presents recommendations based on the Gurmat components on both the individual and institutional levels. Bani, Tavarikh, and Rahit offer guidance to individuals on their journeys in understanding their sexuality, encouraging them to seek guidance from the Guru Granth Sahib, support from their peers, and to develop a personal relationship with IkOankar. The Gurmat framework offers guidance for institutions towards taking the lead on deeper discussions surrounding sexuality and queerness, providing resources, support, and education for teens and adults from the Gurmat perspective, rather than using fear and shame-based teaching. The report concludes that fostering these attitudes of openness, non-judgment, and support at an individual level and amongst smaller communities within the Panth will ultimately lead to larger changes in sexuality being discussed individually and institutionally.

Sexuality is a confusing and often avoided topic. Therefore people often turn to religion, seeking concrete moral pronouncements. The framing of sexuality takes extremes in various traditions, religious and non-religious, with ideas of asceticism and abstinence rooted in the belief that indulgence is worldly entanglement on one extreme and a more tantric indulgence, rooted in the belief that pleasure is a release, on the other. Such moral pronouncements typically place sexuality into this box of negative extremes. For the purpose of this report, sexuality is understood as:

1. How one experiences sexual and romantic attraction (if at all).

2. One’s interest in and preferences around sexual and romantic relationships and behavior.

How does Sikhi shape human behavior, and what is its outlook on issues surrounding sex, pleasure, procreation, and sexual preferences? How does this outlook connect to our ideas about relationships, morality, spirituality, and society?

A survey of 1,212 self-identified Sikhs from 31 different countries was conducted. The purpose of this survey was to gain insight into Sikh thoughts and feelings surrounding sexuality today. Responses outlined a clear understanding that lust and sex are not synonymous — importantly, neither are sex and sexuality — and a clear belief that Sikh institutions must play some role in providing nonjudgmental support and resources to Sikhs of all gender identities and sexual orientations in order to educate and engage with a diverse community, facilitating hard conversations in safe spaces.

The Sikhi & Sexuality report makes recommendations based on Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle) that can be used by individuals and institutions to provide support to those coming to terms with their sexuality as well as those with questions about sexuality.

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Revised:

This Content has been made available for educational purposes only. SikhRI does not make any representation concerning the completeness of the Content. This Content is not intended to substitute research or a deeper understanding of the topic. SikhRI encourages readers to read multiple authors to gain a complete understanding of the topic.

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Sikhi & Sexuality – Report

The focus of this report is to understand sexuality in the context of a Sikh worldview, from a Gurmat (Guru’s Way) perspective, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).

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Sikhi & Sexuality – Report

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Sikhi & Sexuality – Raw Data

A global survey, included in the report, was presented to 1,212 self- identified Sikhs from 31 countries. The purpose of this survey was to gain insight into Sikh thoughts and feelings surrounding sexuality today.

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Sikhi & Sexuality – Raw Data

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Written By

Senior Fellow, Research & Policy

Harinder Singh is the Senior Fellow at the Sikh Research Institute. He holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University, an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Kansas, and an MPhil from Punjab University in the linguistics of the Guru Granth Sahib. 

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Research Associate

Jasleen Kaur is a Research Associate at the Sikh Research Institute. She has received a Religious Studies B.A./M.A. from the University of Virginia, focusing on South Asian Religions through the lens of literature and poetry.

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