As the day for Pink Dot’s “Freedom to Love” event draws closer, it has attracted growing controversy. Some members of the Muslim community have launched a Wear White campaign to defend traditional family values and protest against homosexuality. This event has in turn attracted the support of members of the Faith Community Baptist Church and the LoveSingapore network of churches.
The Catholic Church has also joined the furore with Archbishop William Goh issuing a statement stating that the LGBT way of life was detrimental to society. The National Council of Churches Singapore has also waded into the debate and issued its own statement on the matter.
Singapore is a multi racial, multi culture and religiously diverse society. It should therefore be an open and inclusive country where everyone is able to accept and respect each other’s differences.
In that vein, it is the sacrosanct right of any religion to have an opinion. It is also their prerogative to issue guidance to followers of their faith. I do not wish to tar all faiths with the same brush and some statements have been more conciliatory than others.
That said, a large proportion of those statements have been wholly intolerant of any measure of morality but their own. This is unacceptable in a secular country where divergent groups of people share a common space.
I understand that certain religious groups stand for certain principles and flowing from that, its adherents will believe and obey those same principles. The heads of these respective faiths would also thus have the right to guide the followers.
However, a line has to be drawn when members of a particular faith seek to impose their beliefs and their code of morality on someone who does not share their religion.
While I am certain that none of these statements were intended to cause offence, the result of most of them is to inflict their version of how society should be on the rest of the country. While recognising their right to preach to the faithful, perhaps they can add in an extra line to clarify that they respect the beliefs and way of life of others?
Most statements do end off on a conciliatory note clarifying that they do not condemn homosexuals per se but that said, not conceding the need to respect the rights of others to make their own choices is glaringly obvious in its omission.
It may be fair enough that these religions state their positions vis a vis homosexuality – that they believe it to be incompatible with their respective faiths but what should be added is that they recognise that Singapore is a secular state and accept that everyone is entitled to live as they choose.
This would be something that would reflect the values of a multi-faceted society such as Singapore and religious leaders should play their part in the community by teaching their followers that no one has a monopoly over morality.
For detractors who will argue that the Pink Dot are inflicting their way of life on others, please note that they are not asking for anything more than equality. They just want the freedom to live their own lives. They are not converting anyone to homosexuality nor are they advocating that being homosexual is superior to traditional family life.
What they are asking for today is to be accepted as part of society. Is that really too much to ask for in a civil society? A little mutual respect would go a long way.