The homosexuals in Singapore will be holding an annual event called Pinkdot at Hong Lim Park on 28 Jun 2014 where more than 10000 people are expected to attend. According to the organisers, the annual event is to, among other things promote openness, understanding and tolerance towards the homosexuals and for their right to love. It is by all account, a celebration of gaiety. And the fact that it is being allowed to be held shows the government’s increasing openness and acceptance towards the lgbt community. And this could be due to the government’s efforts to make Singapore a truly international metropolis in attracting talents regardless of creed and sexual orientation.
But how far should the boundary be pushed? Already some conservative segments of the society are planning a silent protest on the day of the event by wearing white. And this has gained traction amongst some Muslims, Christians and other traditional elements who are opposed to the blatant show of gay pride. They see it as an attempt to promote and showcase gay lifestyle which is against the very tenets of their beliefs. And they are afraid that this may lead to greater demand for equality and undermining the value of the family.
The dichotomy between homosexuality and religion is difficult to be bridged simply because all major religions see homosexuality as an abomination. No doubt there have been cases of gays and lesbians being inducted to the pulpit but these are exceptions rather than the norm.
Homosexuals have existed in Singapore for as long as man first set foot on this island because homosexuality is part of human society. In the past, there had been little altercation because homosexuals lived in the shadows deep in the closet. Those who stepped out would congregate in their little enclaves in Johore Road and Bugis Street, away from the straight sensitivities of the heartlands. But with the passage of time, and with empowerment and recognition being accorded to the lgbt in some countries, those in Singapore are becoming more emboldened and open. And this has resulted in uneasiness amongst the conservatives in Singapore.
The best way forward is for both parties to understand each other’s position. For the religious conservatives, they have to accept the fact that homosexuals are part of the human society and they must find ways to persuade them to change. In any case, if it is God who deems homosexuals as abominations, then let God mete out the punishment. In this regard, the #wearwhite silent protest planned by some groups is a sensible approach as a signal to the government that Singapore is still by and large a conservative society.
As for the homosexuals, they must realise that however much they want to be accepted, there will always be elements within the society who see them with disdain. Singapore is still an Asian society with deep-rooted traditional Asian values that see conventional family as the cornerstone of the social framework. To ridicule and mock their belief systems will only lead them to be more unaccepting of the lgbt lifestyle. And the homosexuals have a lot to do to change the common perception that they are promiscuous, decadent and engage in debauchery. To have a peaceful and fun gathering at Hong Lim Park is as far as the society can allow. But to go further and have gay pride parades like that in San Francisco and Sydney where naked men and women rode on horse carriages will only worsen the negative perception.
The government has its work cut out to balance these two forces. It has to recognise the existence and contributions of the lgbt to the society without riling the sensitivities of the conservative elements within the society. A slowly-slowly approach will be appropriate where the rights of the homosexuals will have to be calibrated against the level of conservatism within the society. One thing for sure, it will be many more years before gay marriage can be accepted in Singapore.