Monday, April 27, 2009

AWARE: The implications

(Unpublished: April 24, 2009. Well, at least I tried)

I refer to the reports on Aware’s Thursday night press conference.

I firstly would like to condemn the death threats some of the new executive committee members were said to have received.

There is no place in Singapore for such uncivilised acts.

We should have, instead, continuous, open and inclusive dialogue.

In view of that, I feel the latest revelations that Dr Thio Su Mien is involved being the takeover of the women’s interest NGO, also threatens this dialogue.

Aware is and has always been pro-women.

Her stance that homosexuality is wrong, and is merely a lifestyle that can be discarded, subjects women who identify as homosexual to becoming marginal or invisible.

I am shocked that the report confirms some degree of a coordinated effort to take over Aware.

I am disappointed that most members of the new executive committee have kept mum of their intentions until Thursday night.

I am saddened by the fact that the feminism practised by these women is exclusionary and discriminatory, namely against sexual orientation.

They could have formed another organisation befitting their collective interest, and along with Aware, present Singaporean women with more choices.

The news have now shown that this faction plays a zero-sum game, one that is intolerant, divisive and not open to dialogue.

As a happily married male Singaporean who identifies as heterosexual, I could have been ignorant and unaffected by the whole saga.

However, I have been worried about the implications of the events that have unfolded.

The support of queer, queer-identified or questioning women does not equate to the promotion of sexuality.

I find the rhetoric, that sexual orientation can be “promoted”, ridiculous and divisive.

It so happens there are sufficient legal and social sanctions here to validate this reasoning and discourse.

It is impossible to have a dialogue if one party does not respect and recognise the other.

It is all the more impossible for society to progress if the diverse representation and participation of women in Aware are unilaterally denied.

It may be for this new Aware a moral victory and the advancement of dialogue, but I feel this is a monologue intolerant of diversity.

Ho Chi Sam

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