WayangParty: The crux of the AWARE fiasco is not about homosexuality or religion but the space for diversity

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April 25, 2009

By Eugene Yeo and Fang Zhi Yuan

Some readers have asked us if we are pro-gay and why we have come out strongly in support of the AWARE old guards.

We have initially adopted a neutral stance towards the AWARE saga, but in the light of the recent revelations that the takeover was orchestrated from behind the scenes by Dr Thio Su Mien, we felt we have no choice but to speak out against the actions of the new exco.

As the AWARE old guards have rightly pointed out in their press conference, the issue here is never about homosexuality, religion or the direction of AWARE.

What is really at stake is the space for a diversity of views in our secular, cosmopolitan and pluralistic society. Singapore is a multiracial, and multicultural nation. We must be able to tolerate inherent differences in beliefs and values so as to co-exist peacefully with one another.

There are other avenues which Dr Thio can turn to to express her unhappiness and disagreement with AWARE’s work and direction. She can write in to the press, contact them in person and attend their meetings.

What will our society become if we simply resort to hijacking each other’s organizations because we do not see eye to eye with one another?

Dr Thio revealed that she was disturbed by what she saw as signs that it was promoting lesbianism and homosexuality which prompted her to urge women she knew to challenge Aware’s attempts to redefine marriage and families.

Did Dr Thio ever contact the old guards of AWARE to highlight her concerns to them? According to Dr Kanwaljit Soin, a founding member of AWARE, she was not aware of Dr Thio’s involvement with the organization.

Dr Thio is entitled to her own opinion that AWARE had lost sight of its original purpose and become pro-lesbian and pro-homosexual.

As a well established and respected senior lawyer, she has the means, resources and connections to start another women organization from scratch to challenge AWARE. It is not befitting of her status to orchestrate a sneaky takeover from behind the scenes so as to further her own agenda.

There must be space in our society for differing views to be aired freely and openly without imposing our beliefs and values on one another.

If we allow AWARE to be taken over by another group today without thwarting their plans, will it set a precedent for other secular groups to be taken over by similar moral vigilantes who disagree with their direction and vision?

Religious organizations should confine their own preaching and activities to their respective communities and not infringe on the public space of civil society which should be kept secular and non-sectarian both in nature and spirit.

Nobody is stopping Dr Thio from counseling homosexuals in her own Church. However her belief that homosexuals can “change” their sexuality through counseling should not be allowed creep into the consciousness of mainstream society.

Once the floodgates are open, there is no stopping a highly motivated and organized vocal minority from exercising their new found freedom to propapagate their values either covertly or overtly to convert the unsuspecting masses.

There is no place in civil society for such sneaky behavior. State your agenda clearly when contesting for the elections and let the members decide for themselves if they share your vision instead of using underhanded means to seize control of an established organization.

Everybody should be given the space to expose themselves to a wide spectrum of views so as to make an informed choice of their own will.

We are worried at Dr Thio’s insistence that homosexuality has no place in Singapore society and her shallow mindset that adopting a non-committal stance towards homosexuality is tantamount to promoting it.

Let live and live. Face up to reality. Homosexuality exists in every society. It is impossible to change the sexual inclination of people just like you can’t force one to love the other.

To quote from the American poet Maya Angelou:

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their colour.”

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