ST Forum: Beware loose use of term 'sexual minorities' (Aug 10)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Aug 10, 2007

Beware loose use of term 'sexual minorities'

I REFER to Mr Ho Chi Sam's letter, 'Why is gay forum against public interest?' (ST, Aug 8).

Apparently, this forum was not banned in its entirety, as Mr Ho claimed. Its organisers, a self-professed homosexual lobby group, reported on their website that 'the event will still go on. The topic may be altered slightly, but will still focus on the law and sexual orientation'.

Regretfully, the organisers had not posted the forum's programme on their website. However,, an Internet portal providing services aimed at homosexuals, posted an article attributed to the foreign speaker concerned, which presumably contains the gist of what he intended to convey.

This article argues for the repeal of criminal laws against unnatural sex by using foreign precedents and international law in certain ways, noting that decriminalisation paves the way for the next step in the agenda, i.e., to redefine marriage.

It presupposes that the repeal of such laws benefits our society, and, in so doing, sidesteps the very issue that we are trying to work out for ourselves, i.e., whether decriminalising homosexual conduct serves or undermines Singapore's interests and well-being.

Mr Ho introduced the expression 'sexual minorities', a term coined by political groups in countries like Canada and the United States to lobby for special (rather than equal) rights for self-professed homosexuals.

Attempts had been made to extend such special rights, to the point of banning religious texts like the Quran and Bible as 'hate literature' for 'incit(ing) hatred against sexual minorities' because these texts categorically reject homosexual behaviour.

An uncritical importation of such politically charged and legally loaded terminology not only confuses but also endangers the racial and religious harmony that Singapore has laboured to enjoy and keep.

While a group of people may be a numerical minority as a social fact, that cannot be the sole or conclusive criterion for conferring legal recognition as a minority at law, so as to merit the enjoyment of additional protection or privileges.

Under Singapore law, the only legally recognised minority groups are racial and religious groups. Sexual preferences do not qualify as a marker for special legal protection.

Lastly, I fail to see the relevance of Mr Ho's confession of being 'straight' in the context of a rational and informed debate in matters of public interest. What matters is the substance and veracity of what is being said, not the identity of the speaker.

Angela Thiang Pei Yun (Ms)