Empowering marginalised voices through charities

Wednesday 08th May 2024 06:23 EDT

Jasvir Singh CBE is a British family law barrister, media commentator and social activist. He is one of the founding members of City Sikh and South Asian Heritage Month. In an interview with Asian Voice, he spoke about social activism, balancing his roles in various organisations and more. 

Jasvir believes that his faith has been the greatest inspiration of all in joining social activism and community leadership. He said, “Growing up Sikh, sewa (selfless service) was ingrained in me. From serving in the gurdwara to volunteering with an LGBTQ+ charity, I've always felt the importance of fighting for equality. As Sikhs, we are taught that we need to fight for equality at every opportunity, and being from West London, I heard many stories about the defiance, like Blair Peach's death at a protest against the far right, shaped my worldview. Other such incidents made me feel vulnerable but also determined to not let extremist behaviour determine how I live my life. Making positive change in society is never easy, but it is the right thing to do.”

Emphasising on grassroot organisations and projects, Jasvir mentions them as key for driving social change and fostering inclusion in society. He said, “Groups like the Indian Workers Association and Southall Black Sisters fought for equal rights in the 1970s and 1980s, paving the way for legislative changes promoting diversity and inclusion in Britain. In today's divisive political climate, inclusive efforts are crucial. Despite polarising culture wars, grassroots organisations play a vital role in fostering community and unity. Charities like the Faith Forum for London and initiatives like City Sikhs focus on interfaith activities, bridging gaps and promoting communal identity.”

Jasvir acknowledges the UK's progress in equality over the last 25 years but there is a need to address issues such as homophobia within south asian community. He said, “I would say that homophobia is sadly persistent within some South Asian communities too. I have received death threats for being gay from a very vocal yet very small minority within the Sikh community in the past. Despite facing visceral prejudice, it hasn't deterred me. If others feel threatened by my happy marriage to another man, it reflects their insecurities more than anything about me.”

“However, if we look at Britain as a whole, it is definitely one of the most progressively minded countries in the world. The fact that we can talk about the difficulties we experience means that we don’t try to brush things under the carpet anymore and try to ignore it. Issues need to be confronted head-on sometimes in order to address them, and we have the freedom to be able to do that in the UK,” he added. 

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