Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How to help marginalised communities

(Unpublished - Nov 4, 2007)

How to help marginalised communities

Dear Editor,

I refer to Alex Tan Tuan Loy's letter 'Polarisation beginning to surface after S377A debate' (ST, Nov 1).

Debates on homosexuality and its criminalisation have always been very social divisive. Primarily, both camps have different conceptions of social space. The anti-repeal camp sees homosexuality as infringing on its space, while the pro-repeal camp sees itself as fighting for equal space, and not at the expense of straight people.

There is sufficient fear and suspicion of homosexuality in our society to warrant the lack of critical awareness of the moral rhetoric spun by the conservative educated elite and opinion leaders. We have seen the continual use of vague terms such as"moral majority", "Asian values", and "endorsement of gay lifestyle" without actually understanding what the meaning and political and socio-religious of these terms.

The problem is very simple. Firstly, there are differences in how people perceive sexual morality, some perceptions are championed and maintained by larger institutions and communities, other perceptions exist in smaller communities. For the larger groups, a battle of ideologies is waged to weed out what they consider deviant. Society and people are easier controlled if they are homogenous.

Secondly, we should now stop discussing the nature-nurture aspects of homosexuality, because science itself is highly politicised but many deem it to be objective. We should be asking ourselves what we can do for marginalised people and communities in Singapore, what we can do to socially integrate them and make them feel equal.

This is the least we can do as a pragmatic nation. Pragmatism is immediacy in the addressing of problems. We have a problem here: How to help?

Ho Chi Sam

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