Monday, May 28, 2007

Religion, politics and sexual minorities

(Published - ST Forum, Online Story. May 28, 2007)

I have been following the online and printed articles on sexual minorities following MM Lee Kuan Yew's St James Power Station talk.

Now it seems that, along with science and acacdemia, religion has crept into the debate.

Religious fundamentalism and/or blinkered subscription to specific academic and scientific doctrine, whether religiously or politically charged, have severe social implications.

Based on the 'knowledge' generated from these seemingly legitimate fields, laws are imposed.

We have to look way back to Seventh Century A.D. Spain where Christianity and the monarchy justified persecution and violence to sexual minorities.
In another account, the definition bestiality is to have relations with someone (a human being) outside one's race, and this was defined by Christian leaders many centuries ago.

Christian Europe, by the 13th Century, came to regard sodomy as a 'wicked and unnatural vice' and legislation was enforced. Throughout that century, homosexual activity went from being completely legal in most of Europe to one that incurred the death penalty. Christianity was the motivation behind this.

Governed by the 'truths' in science and religion in the past century and a half, the following acts were performed on homosexuals: Surgical transplantation of testicular cells from straight men to gay men; castration of gay men; cerebral ablation of 'sexual deviants'; androgen replacement; aversive condition, including electrical, chemical and covert; hypnosis; and psychoanalysis. These acts would be otherwise condemned as inhuman in today's context.

Religious fundamentalists and blinkered academics who based their knowledge on dated information are often unable to account for changes in society, boundaries and socially-related definitions. These people need to understand the histories of their respective beliefs, however embarrassing, brutal, bloody and silly.

I recall one Singaporean motto that promotes life-long learning and recommend it for those who are impassioned by religious fundamentalism and blinkered academic subscription. Learning also involves understanding your past and knowing about your past through many sources, rather than only one source into which you might be already pre-conditioned and taken for the 'truth'.

There is no need for a moral panic. Sexual minorities are not a disease. All we have to do is to look at all the homosexuality-related moral panics in other countries in the past and the atrocities committed against them based on narrow and stubborn views.

We are Singapore. Let's not only embrace diversity, but also celebrate diversity while respecting one another's boundaries without encroachment.

Ho Chi Sam