Friday, April 10, 2009

Are you aware of AWARE?

I read the news today, oh boy.
About a lucky bunch who made the grade.

The rat is smelly, but maybe our noses are too sensitive. You be the judge. (see end of article for related links)

I shall reproduce the Straits Times report here, for public knowledge.

Apr 10, 2009
Unknowns knock out veterans at Aware polls: Caught off-guard by big turnout, longtime members lose to fresh faces

Singaopre's best-known women's group, the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), has seen a dramatic changing of the guard - which some members are describing as nothing short of a leadership grab.

When Aware held its annual general meeting on March 28, everyone expected the usual: No more than 30 or 40 members would turn up at its Dover Crescent centre, and a prepared slate of candidates would be voted into office easily.

Instead, more than 100 people came, the majority of whom had joined Aware only in recent months.

And when the election of office bearers began, almost every position was challenged by new faces, who won by wide majorities.

In the end, nine out of 12 executive committee spots went to the newcomers.

One older member who won without a contest was Mrs Claire Nazar, a former corporate counsel nominated to be president by outgoing Aware chief Constance Singam.

But barely a week into her new term, and before making her first statement as president, Mrs Nazar quit suddenly this week.

She confirmed that she had resigned, but declined to say any more when reached by The Straits Times.

It is not known who will now become president.

Longtime members took two other positions: Chew I-Jin as assistant honorary treasurer and Caris Lim Chai Leng was elected a committee member.

The election results have left longtime Aware members in shock.

Former president Tan Joo Hymn, 38, told The Straits Times the big turnout at the AGM surprised her.

'I arrived at the meeting late and found out that I was No. 100 on the attendance list. I've been a member for 10 years, and never before has there been such a turnout,' said the former lawyer who is now a full-time mother.

Another former president, writer Dana Lam, 57, said: 'There were many faces I had not seen before, and I found that very strange.

'In previous years, even if there were new members, they would be known to one or more of the older members.'

The first indication that something was afoot came when Ms Chew, an Aware veteran, was challenged and defeated handsomely by new member Charlotte Wong Hock Soon for the post of vice-president.

Ms Chew was later elected unopposed as assistant honorary treasurer.

'It was alarming,' said Ms Lam. 'How could a new member who had just joined for a couple of months, and whom we knew nothing about, be picked over someone who has been with Aware for more than 15 years?'

Some of the older members immediately began checking the attendance list.

Ms Tan said: 'We found that about 80 of the 102 who turned up were new members who joined between January and March this year.'

Aware, a feminist group that has prided itself on being 'all inclusive', has never vetted the people who apply to be members.

Men can join too, as associate members.

As it dawned on them that a leadership grab was imminent, some older members at the AGM tried asking the newcomers who they were, what they stood for, and why they wanted to be in charge.

They got only the briefest answers, they said.

Ms Lam said she tried suggesting that new members serve a stint on Aware's various sub-committees before standing for election to leadership positions.

But such suggestions went unheeded as the election proceeded, with more newcomers winning executive committee positions by landslide margins.

Ironically, the old guard at Aware had been working towards changing their Constitution to make it a rule that only those who have been members for at least a year would be eligible to join the ex-co.

There is currently no rule to bar a brand new member from seeking office, and that was what happened at the AGM.

Ms Tan said: 'We were simply outnumbered. Technically, they got in legitimately.'

She added that the way the election proceeded was so unusual, it was hard to imagine that the takeover was not a planned effort.

'It could not be pure coincidence,' she said.

But little is known of Aware's new leaders, aside from the fact that they include women from the corporate sector, lawyers, company directors and academics.

Older members said the newcomers spoke well but would not elaborate on their plans for Aware.

'When asked if they believed in equality, they kept repeating they were there to support women and to make sure they got ahead and got all the opportunities given to them,' Ms Lam said.

Older members were keen to know if the newcomers shared Aware's vision and values, including equality for all regardless of race, religion or sexuality.

But one outspoken new member from the floor, who identified herself as Angela Thiang, said questions about the new office bearers' religion and their stand on homosexuality were not relevant.

Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Braema Mathi, a two-term president of Aware, told The Straits Times that she, like many other members, was concerned.

'If you are keen to serve, you don't challenge every position. We do not know who they are,' said the former journalist who is now in Bangkok doing consultancy work for international women's group Unifem.

'It is very troubling, more so because I've heard the new president has resigned.'

Almost a fortnight into their new roles, the new leaders of Aware were not entertaining calls from the media this week.

New honorary secretary Jenica Chua Chor Ping told The Straits Times a press release would be issued 'in a few days' and added that until then, the committee would not answer any questions.

A check showed that some of those at the AGM and on the new committee have appeared in The Straits Times Forum Page.

Ms Chua, Ms Thiang and Dr Alan Chin, a male member of Aware who attended the AGM and supported the newcomers, all wrote letters to this newspaper between August and October 2007.

In a letter on Oct 17 that year, Ms Chua said NMP Siew Kum Hong had overstepped his non-partisan role and advanced the homosexual cause by tabling a petition in Parliament to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalises homosexual sex between consenting men.

In another letter on Oct 25, she took issue with a Straits Times report which said NMP Thio Li-Ann had been 'visibly distraught' when she opposed Mr Siew's petition vigorously.

Ms Chua said Ms Thio had dealt with several points succinctly, with humour and passion.

Dr Chin and Ms Thiang both wrote letters to caution against the risks of promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

Meanwhile, news of Aware's AGM has spread among older members who did not attend the meeting, as well as civil society groups.

The most frequently-asked questions: Who are the new women in charge, why do they want the leadership, and what are their plans for Aware?

Ms Mathi said: 'The building of an institution takes many years; building its value system is even harder.

'Why can't they come in and be part of the process, and build it together and in a more evolutionary manner? That way, the comfort level will be high for everyone.'

Former newspaper editor and media consultant Peter Lim, a longtime associate member of Aware, said he was very surprised to learn what had taken place.

Asked why he thought a group of newcomers would want to take control, he said he did not know if it was an orchestrated effort.

But he thought Aware would be attractive to those seeking to be in charge of an established institution. Setting up a new outfit would take too much time and trouble.

'Aware has built up its credentials over the years and achieved more than a few things,' he said.

Three former Aware presidents - Ms Claire Chiang, Dr Kanwaljit Soin and Ms Mathi - have served as NMPs.

'Aware is a brand name and most people regard it as the leading voice of the feminists and modern women in Singapore,' said Mr Lim.

Reported by Wong Kim Hoh, Straits Times.

There has been one reaction to this news so far. Refer to end of this article for more links.

The Straits Times is interesting. They do their snoops but leave the "reading" to their readers. They mentioned Jenica Chua, Angela Thiang, Claire Nazar and Alan Chin in the article. For those who have followed the news, these individuals have contributed their (conservative) views in the S377A debate in 2007.

Jenica Chua: May 25, 2007 - ST online forum, "Some erroneous claims in writer's views on gay debate"; Oct 17, 2007 - ST forum, "NMP overstepped role in championing gay cause"; October 25, 2007 - ST forum, "'Visibly distraught'? Prof was fiery and passionate".

Alan Chin: May 8, 2007 - ST online forum, "Homosexuality: Neither a disease nor an immutable trait"; May 15, 2007 - ST online forum, "Figures speak for themselves: Practising gays have higher risk of HIV"; May 28, 2007 - ST online forum, "Aids and gays: A flawed response"; Jul 16, 2007 - ST online forum, "Let's conserve our marriage constitution as one between man and woman"; Aug 7, 2007 - ST online forum, "Law and public education should go hand in hand in dealing with HIV"; Aug 8, 2007 - ST forum, "Beware the high-risk ‘gay lifestyle’".

Angela Thiang: Jan 13, 2004 - Today, "'Gay gene' is still a theory"; Aug 10, 2007 - ST forum, "Beware loose use of term 'sexual minorities'".

Claire Nazar: Jul 13, 2007 - ST online forum, "Stop bashing the majority for their views on homosexuality".

I have no idea how AWARE works, but it is definitely interesting to know what plans they have in store for Singapore - women, children and men, of different backgrounds and identities.

As we read between the lines of the Straits Times, we may get the hint that there is a little bit of an effort - coordinated or not - put in by the conservative (not nice to call them fundies or 'phobes) folk. They leave breadcrumbs behind. As with being a high profile PAP member and government official, it's all about breadcrumbs, because there's only a certain extent the media and other organisations will help you cover your trails.

Wong Kim Hoh, the reporter of the abovementioned article, previously covered a story on the transgendered folk. It seems that everyone is doing some form of politics.

Amidst the concerns pointed out in the newspaper, AWARE still holds true to its idea of inclusiveness. The paradox of inclusiveness is that you cannot exclude "conservative" folk. Whoever wants to participate, can participate. And put to a democratic vote, majority wins. The victory of democracy is the loss for pluralism.

The conservative/moral elite are vying to be the political elite. Maybe that has already happened, maybe not. The problem lies in the fact that these folks are not challenged. Moreover, public discourse has cast a bad light on everything "elite" and people tend to stay away from engaging it.

Not all "elite" stuff are evil. For example, there are some among the educated elite who may not identify with the ideas of the conservative elite. But whatever portion of the elite anyone belongs to, it only matters more when they wield greater politic power and leverage. For example, if the conservative/moral elite part of the educated elite, becomes the political elite, decisions and policies will be made that might marginalise other voices.

We have already seen in the newspapers (in 2007), that the moral elite (among the educated elite, consisting lawyers and doctors) are to an extent leaders of opinion, wanting to influence readers. They compete with the lesser coordinated and more dispersed bunch of folk like myself, who occasionally write in to rebutt some of their divisive - and bordering on hateful - views.

Maybe it is all a coincidence. But the conservative representation and participation in AWARE says something about the political authority and position of AWARE in Singapore, and says something about the importance of being in AWARE.

In my knowledge, AWARE has never been openly gay-affirmative, or pro-queer. Queer-friendly to an extent, but cautiously silent about it. Will this change with the new leadership?

Will other things change too? For example, sex education. Will there be a wider "syllabus"? Will AWARE be secular?

For public information, can AWARE release the background and religious affiliation of each and every member? After all, they are helping to make Singapore a better place, right? It will do Singaporeans a service if we knew where these volunteers come from.

You might read this as a passive-aggressive ploy to invoke identity politics, but I believe identity plays a role in the decisions we make. Your religious identity, for example, leads to certain decision-making processes, the outcomes of which might disadvantage or divide other groups. Not to mention, most of the women are ethnic Chinese and of a certain socio-economic status/class.

Let us see how all these unfold.

-Add-

I would like to appeal to everyone who is inclined to scream "conspiracy" or "anti-gay lobbyist/activist" to refrain for the moment. AWARE has yet to make a release. Sure some of its members have exhibited and expressed anti-gay sentiments, but we cannot be certain the organisation will be moulded in the image of their ideologies combined.

At the same time, I feel that it is a little bit of a stretch, for the moment, to directly and only link this to the counter-counter-discourse to the pro-sexual minority rights counter-discourse.

-Add-

Other related links:
AWARE Caught Unawares
Gays now facing backlash of its own doing?
Not Secular Feminists But Sectarian Fundamentalists: And They’ll Come For You Too
Pharaohs
Why recent events at Aware concern all of us (with other articles)
The crusade has begun...
The religious fundamentalist threat is real
Fundies in Singapore take over Women’s Group
Aware – What a brilliant coup!
AWARE AGM cat fight (title changed to "AWARE AGM: kena caught unawares" because of alleged sexist connotations)
Anti-gay lobby hijacks AWARE
Why AWARE was 'taken over'.....
The Borg take over AWARE at AGM
Coup D'etat (or Organized Crime) of Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)
The AWARE AGM 2009 — my personal take: beware of ST
Be Careful Gays, Aware Has Already Been Taken Over By People U Do Not Wish To Be In Power
Anti-gay Christian fundamentalists hijack Singapore's women's group
"Aggressive takeover" at AWARE?
BEWARE! Newcomers taking over AWARE in progress!
Beware of AWARE!
Beware of AWARE Part II. What some people are saying about it.
AWARE caught unaware: The 1st hint of “hijacking”
AWARE caught unaware: The names of the team (has a series of webpages with information, nice work)
Troubles at AWARE
What netizens can learn from the AWARE incident to keep our net free and independent (has weblinks, please do the citing/attribution though, not cool man, nor responsible)
The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky
From now on, be wary of AWARE
Singapore, please be AWARE!
ST news: 'No money, no Honey'
Aware takeover: great news!
beware of the new “AWARE”?
The Rise of the Neo-Nazi Faction of Singapore? (not very tastefully titled though)
Anyone know of AWARE? (no idea what he's talking about, but it's still an opinion)
Fear is in the air
AWARE overrun by religious zealots
MIWs Are Shocked....The Storming of AWARE In Singapore
Support Love
More awareness needed about the “leadership grab” in AWARE

-Apr 14 additions-
It is all about the Gays?
150 AWARE members seek vote of no confidence in new executive committee
An Open Letter to God
Post-Election Blues: Shake-up at Local Feminist Organisation (nice feminist website, but their banner has a picture of the hegemonic slim feminine silhouette... wtf, maybe it's a different kind of feminist politics.)
AWARE? Or can't be bothered?
Counter-attack at Aware
AWARE - is it all about gays only?
It is all about the Gays?
Be aware?
Protecting a democratic institution
Could this had been a conspiracy or pure coincidence?

25 comments:

conscience said...

From the news report, it is clear that the old guards were caught unprepared due to complacency. They had thought that the elections would be another routine round of 'change' of guard and were thus upstaged by the new group. I am not all optimistic that the latter has a benign agenda.

Sam Ho said...

i think only the newer members and existing members will know what on earth is going on.

if only everyone can openly, and without fear, just state their motivation. so that the rest of us won't engage in any speculation.

Weiye said...

Oh well... Never been a fan of fake feminism.

Solo Bear said...

Ha, Sam. Good to see that the article caught both of our attention. To me, I say that the action was deliberate and coordinated. In fact, probably some men were behind the scene too.

I personally feel that whoever was behind it is using an institution (AWARE) to counter another movement - the gay movement.

I would say not only Aware was unaware, but the gay community was also unaware it woke a sleeping giant.

Here is my take on the issue.
Gays now facing a backlash of its own doing?

chainsawieldinun said...

I earnestly do hope that it's just my nose being twitchy -- if not, this may be a harbinger of the conservatives organising politically and trying to advance their myriad causes (and not just gay-bashing) in the national conversation.

Which would of course, be just grrrrrreat for the Paternal Guardians of Singapore's morality.

Glass Castle said...

Hi Sam

As you can imagine I have a bit to say about this...

http://www.glass-castle.org/issue20editorial.html

Jolene

Sam Ho said...

hey bear, hope you're doing good. i've linked you in this piece. i'm not quite sure whether the recent events were a culmination/product of the "gay issue" movement in singapore.

there are just too many factors, and i personally can't put a finger on one. the "moral conservative" camp's "victory" does not necessarily signify or connote a backlash/reaction to whatever the "gay movement" has done. as much as i am tempted to believe this, there should be other considerations.

weiye, nice one. i've no idea what kind of feminism will be fashioned in this "new" era of AWARE. hopefully not a homophobic or transphobic one.

chainsaw, with due respect to every moral/political camp in singapore, i think the most organised are the christians. they have planted their seeds in the 1980s and 1990s with their youth outreach, made churches hipper, and had more charismatic (in every way) pastors. they have a 20-30 year headstart as compared to the sexual minority right movement here. i recall back in the 90s many peers thinking that christianity was cool and that everyone english-speaking chinese kid should be christian. everyone also asked me if i was christian too. christianity in singapore kinda had a cultural and ethnic image. it's reaping its rewards now, an ideology so naturalised, it makes the rest of us sorry sinners.

organisation takes time and effort. if there is indeed a coordinated effort here, it has definitely brought most of us to school.

and for the sake of being punny, i find the whole thing a bit queer.

Sam Ho said...

hi jolene,

i dare not call them or whoever anti-gay activists, and am not sure if this is coordinated.

we cannot for sure publicly establish any link between these individuals, even though it is fishy that many members turned up at the AGM and went democratic on the butts of the older members.

the implications, as you highlighted, will be there. i've written to the ST forum already, asking about AWARE's position on queer and trans women, as well as their sex education plans.

i agree with the issue of apathy here. many will brush this off as a trivial "women's" issue, and many will not bother about queer issues, and some might not even give two hoots about sex education for that matter. so i'm not sure whether our reactions towards the AWARE episode are worthy of public attention.

i believe we should be calm right now and press AWARE for answers. AWARE needs to explain how the voting took place and why there is this "sudden" increase in participation, and whether and how this affected the voting process.

for those of us who are pro-queer integration, i believe we should refrain from speculating why and stuff that's behind the scenes until AWARE issues a release. what we can do right now, is to point out to the public the implications of the changes in AWARE on our community. we should do it respectfully without attacking the persons' reputations.

chainsawieldinun said...

Sam,

Point taken about the prior experience the Christians have in organising in Singapore. :) Hopefully though, future announcements / events will prove my twitchy nose wrong....

Malcolm said...

Looks like the conservative Christian Right have now infiltrated AWARE. Their presence seems pervasive, not just in all levels of government and the media. Quite an achievement for a religious minority though.

Sam Ho said...

malcolm, they may be individually associated and aligned with the organisational ideology of the christian right, but i don't think they represent it.

but i agree with you that there are a significant number of conservative christian folk in positions of authority all over singapore.

if a straight "no religion" guy like myself is a little worried, i can imagine what people of other faiths and sexual identities/sexual orientation will think.

Weiye said...

I think it's nice to have an alternative view. So here it is:

http://mathialee.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/the-aware-agm-2009/

Can't say that I agree or disagree though.

Sam Ho said...

ya. she has a point, and it suggests that most of us (who are concerned) might be overreacting, but i'm starting to believe (personally) that there is something "funny" going on. maybe i'm a sucker for conspiracy theories, but i'm beginning to feel that this one is a little bit more legit.

Agagooga said...

What would convince you that this was an anti-gay backlash?

In the US, greater visibility and robustness in pushing for their rights led to gay marriage being banned in many states and Proposition 8 being passed.

It would be unreasonable to assert outright that "the recent events were [not] a culmination/product of the "gay issue" movement in singapore"

Sam Ho said...

which is why i said "i'm not quite sure". there's too much uncertainty, because some facts are yet to be made known.

i dare not stick my neck out and say whether it is or not.

initially, i thought that the idea/charge of "anti-gay backlash" gave too much credit to the queer movement in singapore. solo bear's blog talked about it from the backlash angle. it's plausible, but i originally felt it overestimates the queer movement here.

but now, i'm more confused, given the many views that are circulating around me and on the internet.

what's your take, mr seah?

Agagooga said...

You don't have to have a powerful queer movement to have an anti-gay backlash.

All you need is a queer movement that is perceived to be powerful, and the 377A repeal campaign certainly started a moral panic by stoking fears of a "gay agenda" (actually, there *is* a gay agenda - it's just that much of it is equality) and letting people play that ever-reliable trump card: "protecting children" (this works even outside gay contexts: see Megan's Laws)

You can analyse statements of anti-gay crusaders made in public, online and during events (e.g. church sermons) and you will be able to find references to what "the gays" are doing.

Something similar happened in the US, albeit more visibly:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gaymarriage5-2008nov05,0,1545381.story?page=2

"Perhaps more powerfully, the Proposition 8 campaign also seized on the issue of education, arguing in a series of advertisements and mailers that children would be subjected to a pro-gay curriculum if the measure was not approved.

"Mom, guess what I learned in school today?" a little girl said in one spot. "I learned how a prince married a prince."

As the girl's mother made a horrified face, a voice-over said: "Think it can't happen? It's already happened. . . . Teaching about gay marriage will happen unless we pass Proposition 8.""

Sam Ho said...

fierce, but i find it odd that an organisation can be motivated by hate, division, fear and exclusion.

let's say the "conspiracy" is real, is anti-gay sentiment the main/major motivation?

or is this the 21st century crusading, christian "jihad" or struggle to establish stronger institutional foothold in every society, and where there are scores of organisations and folks out there wanting to establish "christian states" and "christian rule"?

Sam Ho said...

ironically, there is a reactive "fear-mongering" carried out against the fundamental christians and christian right.

if they feel it, they'll probably know what it's like to be on the receiving end of just hate/fear mongering.

it's still a bit of a stretch for me all these are happening. i hope to learn more facts in time, so i'll understand what on earth is going on.

Agagooga said...

Why not? Lots of organisations are motivated by hate, division, fear and exclusion.

Al-Qaeda, Westboro Baptist Church, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh...

Indeed, I would venture that to some extent these motivate many Progressive causes as well.

In any case (assuming the 'conspiracy' is real), I can't think of a more important one that currently motivates them though there're certainly other ones.

In Singapore's case, they don't want to establish "christian rule" so much as "traditional"/"conservative" rule.

And yes, Mathia's post (considering she was actually /there/) was a sobering counterpoint to all the hullabaloo. But their knowing what it's like to be on the other end is not a good thing. They just feel more threatened and strike out more. Pouring fuel on the fire is not a good way to end conflicts.

Malcolm said...

Seems like the general consensus, gathering from the various blogs - is there is a perceived christian fundamentalist plan to overrun AWARE. Some suggested a "christian state" conspiracy though I think that's abit too far fetched.
Thio Li-ann might be an oddball to me, but I don't think the majority of Christian MPs are out to bash gays and convert non-believers like me.
What if it is actually a political ploy rather than a religious one?

Sam Ho said...

i think religion as an organisation is a political organisation.

to become more legit, they have to have moral authority and political authority.

a religious ploy, as such, is a political ploy. you want more say in policy-making and rule-making (legislation). policy extends to and impacts welfare, homosexual criminalisation, abortion, religious freedom, medicalisation/pathologisation, and so on.

mathialee said...

Many people have been voicing their concern about the impact of the new exco on AWARE’s existing programmes, especially where things like Sexuality are concerned.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you will have noticed I’m very active in this programme, and so is Caris Lim, one of the old-timers who was re-elected.

I will assure everyone, that as long as I am involved, I will always make sure that only secular, responsible and non-discriminatory messages are being put across.

I sincerely hope that supporters of secular, responsible and non-discriminatory education of any subject, will continue to support AWARE, and to let others know that we are still committed to this vision. There are many people who might not be in the exco, but we are the ones making sure this programme works and that it is being carried out. We do face prejudice from the conservative factions of society, and we hope that the enlightened people will continue to support us, instead of simply writing us off, because they have been scared off by an ST report about an unusal AGM outcome.

If we lose your support, then perhaps, what the ST report would have achieved, is the damaging of the credibility and effectiveness of AWARE, more than anything itself. In Singapore, platforms for non-governmental alternative voices are few and far between, and we need united support from all who share the same philosophy, in order to speak with a louder voice.

-- mathialee.wordpress.com

Sam Ho said...

hi mathia, thanks very much.

people need to know there ultimately is still blood and sweat in every AWARE effort.

it is never easy to be part of any organisation/team, because you will always be sandwiched between conflicting interests.

it is also odd that a lot of attention is focused on the alleged "anti-gay" faction of AWARE, more attention than say, AWARE having a more than proportionate participation/representation of ethnic Chinese, English-educated, middle-to-upper class folks.

whatever good intentions and equality/awareness objectives AWARE has, the politics may bear some imprints of the identities and backgrounds (and interests) of the members.

inevitably, gender equality encompasses queer (and trans) equality/integration. and that will always be on my agenda, as well as SinQSA's and other queer-interest groups.

the straits times article is doing its own politics. i agree that it is not helping AWARE's image, and perhaps the reporter is queer-friendly/affirmative/supportive.

i still agree with AWARE's vision as a layperson, and many people do. AWARE may have formal campaigns and programmes, but there are ordinary people like myself who go about our daily lives (in)directly spreading the same vision we share.

thanks again.

socguy said...

AWARE had a stupidly naive constitution and they got rightly punished for it. Imagine an organization of animals comprising of sheep as the majority and wolves as the minority, and say any animal can apply any time! So wolves want to take over, they will invite more wolves to join lor. In the end, they got an EB with 75% wolves, and these wolves *may* want to start eating the sheep (previously it didn't happen because the predecessors somehow agreed that all animals should be treated equally and not eat one another) since according to *them* it is natural to do so!

But this new AWARE also very stupid, hostile takeover does nothing for their reputation and existing members will likely view them with suspicion. They can still nyeh nyeh continue, but do they really think many will trust them? For those who think takeovers is normal, this is not some company but a civic organization, trust does count.

And how does the MSM's rather expected stance fit in? The underlying reason must have gone through the minds of some pple, but I will just spell it out here. This seems like a move to kill two birds with one stones. Why? Yes, the govt has not been very friendly towards minorities like LBGT, but that doesn't mean fundies will become their immediate friends. Any civic group or population segment that is powerful enough to pressure the govt in any way, is reason itself for its "fixation". Thus this incident turns out to become a convenient chance to frustrate and discredit and weaken two groups that have been sources of 'inconvenience'.

socguy said...

oops, expected should be unexpected, and actually it should be three birds, with AWARE itself. It could be more sinister if AWARE turns out to be the primary target all along.