The Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) “FAQs on Sexuality” might have been praised by many for creating an informative resource on sexuality, but a petition calling for its review has since surfaced. Published yesterday, the petition’s author Mr. “Aaron” – presumably affiliated with the site “Homosexuality and Science” – has garnered over 1,000 signatures. It is posited that HPB’s website “dangerously promotes homosexuality”, and that “[f]ollowing public moods, popular trends or making unsubstantiated statements will not help to bring clarity on the issue at all”. The implicit assertion is that the statutory board is irresponsibly pandering to and siding with the Singapore community of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
Framed as a public health education resource, the FAQs acknowledge that dealing with sexuality and sexual health matters can be difficult. Nevertheless it is stated unequivocally that “homosexuals can certainly have long-lasting relationships … [for they are] based on values like trust, love, commitment, and support”. It also reminds readers that “[h]omophobic people are prejudiced – and will sometimes reject and bully homosexuals”.
While the current set of FAQs went up on January 30, some have noted that after an update on February 3 links to Action for Aids Singapore, Oogachaga Singapore, and SAFE Singapore – non-government organisations providing youth counselling and psychological services – have unfortunately been removed. In response a counter-petition has been penned by undergraduate Miss Melissa Tsang for HPB to restore the original version of the “FAQs on Sexuality”, and to ignore the aforementioned petition that is “ridiculously misinformed and regretfully bigoted”. The information provided by the FAQs is useful, because LGB youth and their families can be appropriately directed “to resources equipped to address their physical and mental health concerns”.
The first petition has been picked up by TODAY in its commentary.
When contacted by The Straits Times about the FAQs in general, and in response to a query on its Facebook page, a representative from the HPB reiterated “that the family remains the basic building block of our society”. Vis-à-vis the presentation of homosexuality as a normal, albeit different sexual orientation, these tenets are not mutually exclusive.
Individuals might be quick to point to the low acceptance of homosexuality in the country, especially after a survey from the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that a majority of its respondents felt it was “always wrong / almost always wrong” for two adults of the same sex to have sexual relations, or to be married. Even though these quantitative data were subsequently segmented based on the religious beliefs of the respondents, follow-up qualitative findings would enrich the present discourse further. More importantly these prevailing sentiments and stigma could in fact add to the anxiety and confusion of a youth coping with issues of sexuality, and hence reflect the significance of having accurate and reliable public health information.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it is a staunch proclamation against homosexuality. But that also means one must be prepared to substantiate that perspective, and not expect to get away with the convenient and selfish claim that something is necessarily wrong and “dangerous” because it is inconsistent with one’s worldview.