Breaking social taboos over homosexuality within the local South Asian community, the organisers of the Baisakhi parade created history by including LGBT community in the event.
The members of Unifor, which claims to be Canada’s largest private sector union, joined the parade with rainbow flags and signs with a message in solidarity with gay pride movement. Unifor supports LGBT community and its equal representation at workplaces.
According to Pall Singh Beesla, who was the in-charge for floats that participated in the parade under the aegis of Khalsa Diwan Society, the oldest Sikh religious body in Canada, this was the first time that LGBT community not only joined the Baisakhi parade, but got an opportunity to participate in the Sikh religious parade anywhere in Canada.
The development is important considering the religious significance of Baisakhi, which also happens to be the birthday of the Khalsa Panth that was created by the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
Keeping in mind the underlying message of social justice behind Baisakhi, Beesla readily agreed to include Unifor contingent with a message to support LGBT community when the latter approached him.
“Sikhism is a forward thinking religion that does not discriminate against anyone, so why discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation?” Beesla said.
Notably, an orthodox section within the Sikh community, like other orthodox religious groups, also opposes homosexuality. It is pertinent to mention that the Sikh clergy in India had advised Canada-based Sikh lawmakers not to support a bill in support of same sex marriages. Only recently, when the lesbian premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne visited India, the Sikh priests announced that she won’t be honoured at the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in Amritsar. However, several prominent Sikhs in Canada have been consistently supporting the rights of the gays and lesbians in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights that guarantees equality to visible minorities.