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The Editor

Raymond Han

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Monday with the Editor: Loosening the reins

Hallo

My alma mater's school song had the following verse:

  "In Queenstown area bright and GAY

  "Stands the New Town Primary School.."

That was in the late 1960's. Then, GAY simply meant "brightly coloured and pretty to look at". Since then, the term GAY has taken on an additional new meaning and I am not sure whether today my primary school still has "GAY" in its school song. I doubt so.

Since the 1960's, change has taken place around the world. Gay people have come out of their closets. The western world has taken the lead in accepting these people. In some European countries, gay marriages are legal.

Here, in Asia, we have been slow in accepting the fact that gay people actually are proper people. Perhaps, it is because of our conservative roots. We have been brought up to think that our sons who hold our surnames must pass on these surnames to their children. And we expect this ritual to continue unabated for generations to come.

So, it comes as a shock to older people that some of their children may not be able to proliferate the family line. Those younger may not have that problem. They are quicker in accepting that some people are just born that way. That they also have a right to live life the way they want to.

But, then Singapore is a place where filial piety is expounded - and rightly so, for this is a value which provides for continued stability in the hierarchy of the family unit. It is this value that baby boomers who are now in their forties and late thirties will use as a guide in their twilight years.  

So, how do we manage the acceptance of gay people in our community? People Like Us, a local group for gay people, said in its book People Like Us: Sexual Minorities in Singapore, that it tried unsuccessfully to register itself first as a society, later as a company.

Therefore, any change must come top down. The government, last week, signalled that Singapore will embrace diversity. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, in a recent interview with Time magazine let out that the government had been hiring homosexuals on the quiet, even for sensitive posts, provided they declared their status.

There is still a long way to go yet. Three sections of the penal code here provide for punishment against homosexual acts. These laws are not likely to change any time soon. Gay people have got to be responsible in their actions - they should not impose themselves on others of unlike mind. They should not be brazen in their behaviour - in public, that is. There are many of us out there who still find it difficult to come to terms with homosexuality. 

While the government's apparent loosening of the reins is welcome news, it should not be mistaken for a go-ahead for gay people to take to the streets to promote their rights to the public. This is not America! Such public displays will only damage the efforts of gay people in gaining mainstream acceptance. Live and let live, I say.  

Comments on this article can be viewed at the following Web page: Letters To The Editor You can add your comments there too.

 

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Monday
14 July 2003

Singapore Time

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