COMMUNITY CRACKS DEVELOPING OVER HATE REMARKS
COMMUNITY CRACKS DEVELOPING OVER HATE REMARKS
Well as longtime Queer writer, Kevin McKeown, has correctly stated, "it was inevitable that conflict between ethno-religious communities and gay interests would conflict" and that time is now.
A number of leaders from the Queer community are trying to work through the offensive remarks made by Balwant Singh Gill, a leader of the Sikh community, however, there appears to be an orchestrated attempt at diffusing the seriousness of his hate comments and this is causing cracks in the normally harmonious GLBT community.
What is really problematic here is that the Queer South Asian community members are claiming the Sun article to be racist. In this context, it appears they are in support of Mr. Balwant Gill. In fact, a number of individuals from this community state that the Balwant Gill remarks were made three years ago and another repeated chorus is that Mr. Gill isn't a political leader and speaks as an individual.
It isn't resonating with this group that Mr. Balwant Singh Gill is in fact a Community Leader. More so, he wields enormous influence and power since he is the official spokesperson for many Sikh Temples and his expressed viewpoints carry significant weight. He is expressing the views of thousands and thousands of members of the Sikh, Punjabi and South Asian communities.
On a personal level, really distressing for me as I'm certain it is for others, is the glossing over of the serious remarks made by Mr. Gill.
A number of community members are calling for a formal apology and complete retraction. Unfortunately, today, another Queer South Asian member claims that Mr. Gill has offerred an apology on CBC. This so-called apology was far from satisfactory and at no time did he retract his statements.
Resulting from the Sun story, is turmoil within the Gay community and after calls of racism from Queer South Asians, I decided to go back and re-read the article in the Vancouver Sun of December 15, 2007.
The story goes on to present how foreign-born residents are much more inclined than longtime residents to be strict moralists. This is especially true, the Sun claims around family values and sex. Much of the story did focus on Mr. Balwant Gill, who even went so far to say, that besides hating homosexuality, he considers it a disease, unnatural and against every major religion.
I believe the Sun story has hit a hot-button issue and I suspect this is why the piece ran. I don't think it is--as many South Asian members articulate--getting back at them for rallying against the deportation order of Mr. Laibar Singh.
Many longtime residents are talking about concerns they have over newer residents bringing to the City, a host of problems. I bring this up not as a slam against any one particular community, or to be hurtful in any way, but merely as observations.
When society learns of gangland-style shootings, we see that it involves many newer citizens. When, bad date sheets of sex trade workers are circulated, repeatedly the descriptions of alleged culprits are defined as East Indian males.
The Gay community often cites that young Sikh males are coming down to the gay village and beating on them. Why the Sikh male community, who themselves have been targeted, would in turn target a minority group is really sad.
Now along comes Balwant Gill and other religious Leaders who present their disturbing viewpoints in a very public way and hence we have serious cracks developing in the normally gentle and peaceful GLBT community.
It isn't at all helpful when Queer South Asians appear to water down the seriousness of a influential and powerful Community Leader who has taken direct aim at the gay community.
Hopefully, we can overcome these difficulties but it will take great effort. Only when we can speak openly and without fear of being branded racist, can we move forward.
I want to also make clear that the Sikh, Punjabi and South Asian Communities are peaceful people and I don't want them to feel shame or singled out for any mistreatment. Having said this, their response so far in not condemning one of their Community Leaders is not acceptable and this won't be tolerated.
Going on South Asian television or radio programs saying this man doesn't represent Sikh, Punjabi or South Asians is a terribly weak response. At times it has even been confusing.
Leaders must demand a formal apology and full retraction. Further they must demand that all Temples which Mr. Gill is spokesperson for, go on record categorically stating he doesn't represent their beliefs.
Jamie Lee Hamilton