A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on sexuality on the website of the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is now the focus of two petitions – one asking the “elected government of Singapore” to “do thorough comprehensive research before they take such a committed stand as taken by the Health Promotion Board”, while another is urging the HPB to restore the original version of the “FAQ on Sexuality”.
The FAQ was published by the HPB last week. In it, the Board addressed the issue of homosexuality and provided its answers to questions about the topic. These questions included: “What is homosexuality/bisexuality?”; “Am I normal? Is being gay or bisexual a mental illness? Do I need to seek medical help?”; “Can homosexuals have long-lasting relationships?”The HPB’s answer to the last question was:
“Yes, homosexuals can have long-lasting relationships. A homosexual relationship, like any other, is based on trust, love, commitment and support.”
The FAQ was welcomed by activists and supporters in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
A Pink Dot spokesperson described the information in the FAQ as “objective and aligned with globally accepted scientific standards”, and commended the government on it.
“LGBT individuals are often marginalised in society, with misinformation and prejudice perpetuating the stigma of being LGBT in Singapore,” the spokesperson told the TODAY newspaper.
The Executive Director of LGBT counselling service Oogachaga, Mr Bryan Choong, said that young people can get appropriate information about sexuality from the set of questions and answers, which included url links to websites, such as SAFE Singapore, Action for Aids, and Oogachaga, which provide advice or support to homosexual persons.
The FAQ, however, has also attracted condemnation and disapproval from others.
A petition, apparently set up by a person called “Aaron”, on 3 February, is calling on the minister for Health, Gan Kim Yong, “to conduct a thorough, non-biased, comprehensive review of the website’s information as it dangerously promotes homosexuality.”
“The Sexuality FAQ presented on Health Promotion Board’s website is questionable and objectionable,” the petition said. “It has an implicit pro-homosexuality stance which I believe is detrimental to our society.”
It said the FAQ by the HPB is not only “an irresponsible act” but that it is “also a misuse of their public service position, platform and a blatant betrayal of public trust.”
It added, “Following public moods, popular trends or making unsubstantiated statements will not help to bring clarity on the issue at all, nullifying the very purpose of the FAQ itself.”
In the latest updated version of the FAQ on the HPB website – the update was apparently made on 3 February, the same day the petition by “Aaron” was set up – the HPB seems to have made several changes to the set of Q&A, in particular removing the mention of and links to the LGBT websites.
Here are screenshots of the original postings and their edited versions:
The omission of the url links to the LGBT support sites has prompted another petition to the HPB to restore the links.
Set up on 4 February by Melissa Tsang, this counter-petition said, “We recommend that Minister Gan Kim Yong ignore the ridiculously misinformed and regretfully bigoted petition “Review HPB’s “FAQ on Sexuality””.
Supporting the original FAQ, it explained that LGB[T] youth “suffer poorer health and higher suicide rates than their heterosexual counterparts.”
“The HPB should provide – literally – life-saving information; and direct LGB youth and their families to resources equipped to address their physical and mental health concerns.”
The petition said that health, safety, and wellbeing of LGB youth should not be battleground for the homophobic to advance their agenda, especially not to the HPB.
“Opponents can ride their moral high horse elsewhere,” it said.
“We urge the HPB to restore the original version of the “FAQ on Sexuality”, complete with links to Oogachaga, SAFE, and AFA.”
On its Facebook page, the HPB said that it “will take into consideration relevant inputs and feedback in our continual review of our public education resources.”
It added, “We would like to reiterate that the family remains the basic building block of our society. This means encouraging heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units.”
Read the HPB FAQ here:
FAQs on Sexuality
Read the two petitions here:
Review HPB’s “FAQ on Sexuality”
Restore the HPB’s original “FAQ on Sexuality”
Visit the LGBT support sites here:
Action for Aids