Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Why is gay forum against public interest?

(Published - ST Forum. August 8, 2007)

The Ministry of Home Affairs banned a public forum scheduled for yesterday which would have featured a talk on the topic, 'Sexual orientation in international law, a case for Asia', saying that it was contrary to public interest.

The forum was to have been open to one and all who are interested to hear views and opinions related to society. How could it be against public interest?

I am a straight member of the public who wants to understand issues that sexual minorities confront, especially in an Asian country like Singapore.

Another reason cited for the ban was that 'foreigners should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Singapore', a reference to the invitation to a foreign-based speaker to participate in the forum.

I believe that views and feedback from foreigners can improve our society and make Singapore stronger. This is important for Singapore as a cosmopolitan country, open to talents from all over the world.

It is a pity that the forum was banned, depriving people like me of the education and awareness it could have given with respect to minorities in our society.

Should we subject ourselves to censorship due to the vague notion of public interest?

What then is public interest?

Instead of a ban, restrictions such as an age limit could have been imposed. A small compromise from the authorities would go a long way for education and awareness.

Ho Chi Sam

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