- July 1, 2014
Harcharan Bagga, the father of a gay Sikh man, and his wife Kamlesh Bagga, came out in support of their son, pronouncing “family is still family, and love is still love.” The couple came out publicly in a video released by the Asian Pride Project an online space for family and friends of LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander people.
The parents appealed to their community “to take a stand to really support your children, my children, our children” and to share the story of love and acceptance of their LGBT children.
Sikhism, a monotheistic religion, was founded in the late 15th century by Hindu-born Guru Nanak in Punjab, a region now split between India and Pakistan. While Sikh dharma is a philosophy which believes in equality and acceptance for all, and the tenth Guru Gobind Singh, even declared that, “the whole of mankind should be viewed as one,” traditional customs and social values of Punjab has tended to be non-affirming of LGBT people.
Kamlesh adds, “Too often our children are shunned, ostracized and discriminated against in our community.”
By being the target of homophobic/transphobic attitudes in the community and Sikhobhobic attitudes in wider society, LGBT Sikhs are often disproportionately marginalized for being LGBT and again for being Sikh. A 2014 study by the Sikh Coalition found that 54 percent of Sikh youth nationwide, and 67 percent of turbaned youth, reported experiencing bullying and harassment. Among LGBT youth, 51 percent have been verbally harassed at school.
People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration – and LGBT people and our family and friends are no different. The HRC Religion and Faith Program is working to create a world where nobody is forced to choose between who they are or who they love and what they believe. Learn more about our work at www.hrc.org/religion