Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore and Member of Workers' Party, Mr Daniel Goh shared his views on the Health Promotion Board (HPB)'s FAQ saga through his facebook page. Answering in his professional capacity as a sociologist, he replied the questions posed by journalist and shared the answers on his facebook as a status update.
Daniel Goh's reply, with questions abbreviated and paraphrased:
1) What do you think of the FAQs?
I think the FAQs are very factual and reflect the current social scientific and scientific understanding of homosexuality. I don't find it surprising at all and not progressive, but objective.
2) What do you make of the timing of this?
I am wondering what took so long. I believe government agencies should operate on the basis of facts and not the prejudices of society whichever way they bend. I think it would be speculation to interpret the timing of the FAQs as linked to society's views and prejudices.
If anything, I think society has become quite pluralistic when it comes to sexuality and a whole range of views exist. If government agencies adopt the point of view of a particular segment, it will just produce or exacerbate conflicts and misunderstandings. Agencies should go by facts, which is what HPB is doing.
3) Do you think the FAQs reflect or contradict the government's pro-family policy?
I don't see any contradiction. Informing people about concerns and facts about homosexuality is to acknowledge the incontrovertible reality of homosexuality. It doesn't undermine healthy relationships between married heterosexual couples at all. If it offends someone's individual sensibility, then it is just that, offending an individual, not hurting a relationship between two heterosexual partners.
In fact, I think informing people about homosexuals actually helps promote the family as a basic building block of society, as it helps parents and other family members understand and accept homosexuality as a fact. This reduces discord and strengthens family bonds, making for a stronger society where homosexuals do not feel ostracized and alienated through no fault of their own.
4) Do you think the FAQs achieve the goal of STD education?
I think it does, because it helps clarifies misperception that AIDS is a homosexual disease, and directs our understanding of STDs as linked to risky sexual behavior of having unprotected sex with multiple partners regardless of sexual orientation.
The only criticism I have is the factoid on the increase in homosexuals being tested positive for HIV. The increase was only in 2011 and HPB should be more circumspect and not appear to frame it as a trend -- we don't know yet until more data is available. Overall, I like the FAQs very much and am very impressed by HPB's clarity and balanced objectivity.