Sikhi & Sexuality

State of the Panth – Report 6

Wednesday
,
9
September
2020
stateofthepanth
sikhism
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.
Sikhi & Sexuality Webinar - State of the Panth Report

Sikhi & Sexuality Webinar - State of the Panth Report

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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.

Sikhi & Sexuality – Report

This is the full, downloadable PDF of the the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Sexuality".

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).

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.

Sikhi & Sexuality – Raw Data

This is a download of the raw source data that was generated for the State of the Panth report "Sikhi & Sexuality".

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.

Written By

Senior Fellow, Research & Policy

Harinder Singh is a widely respected educator and thinker who is deeply in love with 1Force, the Oneness that radiates in all. 

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Creative Director

Inni Kaur is Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI).

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Researcher

Jasleen is a double UVA grad in Religious Studies, focusing on South Asian Religions through the lens of literature and poetry.

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