Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Christian Post on Aware and Homosexuality

Taken from The Christian Post. (accessed April 26, 2009. 12pm)

New Aware Exco: Real Coup by Homosexual Activists

For the past week they were blasted by members of the public for an aggressive 'takeover'.

But leaders of the 'coup' have revealed to the media that the actual takeover had occurred some years back when certain elements in the organisation had used it as a platform to promote homosexuality.

In an impromptu press conference conducted yesterday at Raffles Town Club, New Aware President Josie Lau opened up on the real crisis behind the NGO that had led the new team to run for leadership positions.

“I was being very polite when I said [that Aware had lost its focus]… It has really not lost its focus but I think it has gone further than that, much, much further than that,” she said.

“It has now become a single-objective organisation. So that's what the new team is here to do: we want to bring Aware back to its original, very noble objective, which is to represent all women, to advance their cause, all women whatever religion and race in areas such as professional development, their private life, their health... We need to look at ageism, all the problems... So we should be pushing those cause."

Lau and the other new leaders, who form a third of the entire exco, were democratically elected at the NGO's annual general meeting last month but have been accused of using strong-arm tactics to gain control of the organisation in what has been negatively portrayed by public media as an act of Christian fundamentalism.

Under the leadership of ex-president Constance Singam, Aware sponsored the screening of the lesbian-themed movie Spider Lilies at its charity gala in 2007. When a concerned parent wrote in to the media asking why Aware’s choice of movie for a charity show was a film about two lesbians who fall in love, Singam said Aware embraced diversity and individual choices and was glad Singapore is now more open to discussing diversity.

In the NGO’s comprehensive sexuality education programme conducted in 30 schools for young girls aged from twelve to 18, homosexuality is regarded as a neutral rather than a negative word.

“The suggestion is that in this programme, young girls from twelve to 18 are taught that it’s okay to experiment with each other,” said Dr Thio Su Mien, the founding partner of a local law firm and first woman law dean at the National University of Singapore. Dr Thio says Aware was started by her contemporaries and friends and as a concerned party she played a part in persuading the four new exco members, namely, Ms Josie Lau, Ms Maureen Ong, Ms Jenica Chua and Ms Lois Ng to join the NGO and is presently acting as their mentor.

“And this is something which should concern parents in Singapore. Are we going to have an entire generation of lesbians?” She added that the parents to whom she had spoken about the sexuality programme were indignant. Such programmes, she noted, are not new and have been taking place in the United States and Europe.

Dr Thio insisted that she was not anti-homosexual. “I have nothing against lesbians or homosexuals personally. On a personal front, I’ve ministered, I’ve counseled them. They are in pain. And very often from families where you have abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society. We understand this is what it’s all about.”

On the way the NGO had gradually become a platform for the homosexual agenda, Dr Thio expressed: “I find to my dismay that Aware seems to be only very interested in lesbianism and the advancement of homosexuality, which is a man’s issue,” she said.

“Can we re-focus on the excellent objectives of Aware? Go back to its original purpose for it being an NGO?” She asked, remarking that the organisation had done great work in many areas.

Aware had also invited a Finnish activist as its speaker. The man was known to be a gender activist and started the men’s sub-committee in Aware. Dr Thio said he spoke about sexuality and noted how Finland had once discussed state-funded artificial insemination for women, leading to questions such as same-sex marriage.

Moreover the NGO had been seeing repeated moves to give male affiliate members the right to vote. The new exco questioned if this was a way to allow homosexual activist men to come under the umbrella of Aware. They were also concerned about Aware wanting to give teenagers and foreign women the right to vote as well.

In 2006, Aware held an event featuring lesbian-friendly mothers and lesbian daughters talking about themselves. The NGO had also invited well-known gay activist Alex Au to conduct a health education course on HIV.

Last year, when ex-president Constance Singam wanted to raise membership she mentioned in a newsletter that she was going to talk to SG Butterfly, a group of transvestites.

Honorary treasurer Maureen Ong said that she joined Aware because she was alarmed at the direction the NGO was heading. “I am a mother of three children, so I’m concerned that going forward, what are the children going to be taught on as part of the so-called comprehensive sexual education? I don’t want my children to say that oh, it’s all right to go and experiment with homosexuality, to experiment with anal sex, to experiment with virginity or the pill or even pre-marital sex. I’m concerned. I’m a parent. It’s shocking. How can this be done in our Singapore society?”

The new team also spoke of how two of its members, Aware president Josie Lau and honorary secretary Jenica Chua, had received a death threat after news of them being voted into the exco and how the Aware secretariat and staff members had been hostile and uncooperative.

Ms Chua said that some days ago her company’s corporate communications person called her as someone had emailed her company to say her involvement in Aware was bad for its reputation and urged the company to take action against her. She said a weblog had been set up calling on the public to boycott her business and lists her working address.

Ms Lau added that there is a weblog detailing her children’s names and their schools and that the secretariat had locked her out of her official email address. The secretariat has since been fired.

Ms Ng questioned the media’s motives for giving so much coverage to the issue and for quoting the old guard, some of whom were formerly journalists. “I have a question for the media: Why is ST pushing the envelope on our anti-gay story? I’d like to ask ST: are you playing a role in this Aware saga as well?”

It is believed that many of the 120 members who have called for an extraordinary general meeting or EOGM next month are lesbians or homosexual activists making a bid to vote out the exco by sheer numbers.

About the homosexual agenda

The homosexual agenda is believed to be a concerted, worldwide effort to mainstream homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.

These activists employ various means - with the media as a channel - to present homosexuals as a persecuted minority and appeal to human rights to get pro-homosexuality laws enforced. In turn, these laws are used to get other laws enforced and the cycle is repeated until the entire lifestyle is legalised.

Activists first seek the decriminalisation of sodomy. A pivotal stage, this removes the obstacle to demands on government funding to advance 'homosexual rights'. In the U.K. government funded programmes are geared to finding the best way to familiarise school children as young as four with homosexual relationships.

The next step is to get the age of consent for heterosexual sex and homosexual sex equalised. Thirdly, anti-discrimination laws are passed to promote homosexual rights, in many cases becoming oppressive laws that infringe on the rights of others.

In the U.S. a father was arrested for criminal trespass when he refused to leave the school where his six-year-old son was studying until the principal assured him that his son would be taken out of the class where the teacher teaches on homosexuality. He filed a federal civil rights claim against the school but the judge reinforced the right of schools to teach homosexuality without parents' consent or choice to opt out.

In another case, a Canadian human rights tribual ordered a Christian pastor to renounce his faith and never again to express moral opposition to homosexuality.

He had written to the local newspaper in Alberta denouncing the advance of homosexual activism, stating: "children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights."

He was ordered to pay $5,000 for pain and suffering caused to the complainant even though the tribunal conceded the complainant was not injured.

In the fourth and fifth steps same-sex marriage or civil unions are legalised, followed by homosexual parenthood and adoption rights.

This system has been successfully implemented in the U.S. and in Europe and Christian leaders have reason to believe that it is being aggressively initiated in Singapore.

Edmond Chua
edmond@christianpost.com

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The above post is basically a circular within a specific socio-religious community. It is interesting to know the views of various communities too, or rather the views that are being circulated in various communities.

Rather than circulating views that embrace differences outside the community, the above article does the opposite. It is fine perhaps within the community, but for someone outside the community, I have my own reactions.

It is far-fetched to say that AWARE had used as a platform to promote homosexuality.

The word "promote" is also misleading. Acceptance or affirmation is not promotion.

Homosexuality cannot be learnt. That said, it is impossible we will have a "generation of lesbians". That is utterly ridiculous, as it is unfounded, misinformed and furthermore, mongering much fear among the wider community.

Yes, I acknowledge that there are people who choose to experiment sexually, but that does not wholly constitute his/her sexual orientation.

At the same time, it is impossible for members of some communities to even fathom the existence of different sexual orientations.

You may be "oriented" towards:
1) Someone you can emotionally identify with.
2) Someone of a certain ethnicity, culture, skin colour.
3) Someone of a certain aesthetic and body shape/type.
4) Someone of a certain lifestyle, fashion taste.
5) Someone of a certain gender, gender identity, gender role, sexual identity, sexual image, or even sexual orientation.
6) Someone of a certain socio-economic status, intellectual maturity, education background (think of SDU).
7) The list goes on...

The denial of the existence of sexual orientation (as innate and emotional) leads to the dehumanisation of homosexuality (among other sexualities).

These people will claim homosexuality is a lifestyle, implying it can be unlearned and discarded.

By rationalising and boxing sexual orientation as only just a "lifestyle", they ignore the individual histories, experiences and feelings that make queer people (who identify as non-heterosexual) human.

If "heterosexual" is a descriptive neutral word, so are "homosexual", "bisexual", "pansexual", "transsexual", "cissexual" and "asexual".

The discourse perpetuated by certain socio-religious factions in our society regard "other-"sexual as negative. What does that say about their moral agenda? And what are the implications of such a denial and moralising?

If it is true, I personally find Dr Thio Su Mien's statement "that in this programme, young girls from twelve to 18 are taught that it’s okay to experiment with each other" interesting.

Firstly, I believe that most children and teens are sexual and some seek to discover some pleasure/comfort themselves. However, they are perhaps uninformed and are unable to properly express any sexual angst or pleasure.

In some religious communities, and more so after the industrial period, people begin conceive children as asexual, just like women were conceived as asexual in those times.

Most parents are also walking away from the responsibility of teaching their children sex education, because they are either ill-equipped or unwilling to do so.

Sex education has been criticised by feminists for being generally being oppressive against women. The clitoris, its stimulation, female orgasm and female erogenous areas are seldom or never discussed in sex education. This has a long-lasting impact on how society will view female sexuality - as passive and perhaps non-existent.

If there is the alleged "advocacy" of sexual experimentation, I believe it should be done responsibly without harm or hurt.

The entire (religious-oriented) ideology that homosexuality, the act/behaviour rather, is sinful, is perfectly fine and valid within religious spaces. But when exported out of these religious communities and into the mainstream, it creates a devastating guilt-trap for people who do not identify with the ideology and who do not identify as heterosexual.

The moral crusade, at the ideological level, has no place in a multicultural and multireligious society like Singapore.

This new age puritanism also equates to a neo-colonialist threat to our Asian history. Think about the sex manuals (Kama Sutra, Chinese pillow books) and our history of transgenderism in South-east Asia.

The moral crusade, whether under the banner/rhetoric of "secularism" or "family values", attempts to rewrite history and change knowledge, streamlining everything into a singular, narrow, homogeneous entity.

It is here when new but historically hollow terms such as "conservative Asians" and "Asian values" spawn to imprison Singaporean diversity.

Back to the article. AWARE's engaging queer-friendly/affirmative or queer-identified individuals in its programmes indicate no evolution or misguided change, but an attempt to continue to be inclusive, and provide a space where women can feel safe.

AWARE should be a place where any woman can feel safe.

Safe from harm. Harm may be physical or emotional in nature. Harm to a person may include guilt and fear being placed into him/her.

The above article also talked about former president Constance Singam indicating she wanted to talk to SG Butterfly. The group was labelled as "a group of transvestites", which is far from the truth, and is rather simplistic and insulting too.

SG Butterfly is an online community, a support group and a humble information portal for Singaporeans (and others) who identify as transgendered, whether they are/were transsexual, transsvestite, cross-dressers and other related non-cisgenderal/cissexual terms. The group empowers trans-identified or gender-troubled individuals with information and resources. There are women and men in the community who have helped one another, emotionally, socially, professionally, etc. I do not see anything wrong with AWARE linking up with the group.

The newspapers have also been criticised for being biased. I am not sure about that. If they can published George Lim Heng Chye regularly... well... that basically says everything... the newspapers ARE NOT BIASED!

Interestingly, there is no homosexual agenda. Some groups are just conflating our efforts for greater inclusion and substantive equality into demons/a common enemy. This amounts to fear- and hate-mongering. Because, hey, it is probably not wrong to fear or hate a demon.

What is ironic is the ideological colonisation of neutral minds (e.g. Protestant Christianity on middle-class English-speaking ethnic Chinese Singaporeans) takes place alongside the battle with the self-created/imagined demon. So who is the real demon any way?

In my opinion, the non-religious Singaporean might be apathetic towards homosexuality in general, but when he/she is ideologically 'conquered', he/she becomes more inclined to demonising it.

Yes, non-religious people may also be uncomfortable with homosexuality, but they generally deal with it rather passively. Of course, there are some non-religious thugs who exercise their masculinity and use physical violence.

The reason why the alleged Christian Right has an obscene amount of freedom to enter other spaces (i.e. stepping out of its constitutionally-protected socio-religious boundaries), not physically enter though, is because the state can do nothing about it.

There is too great, too intricate and too complicated an entwinement between the conservative elite, educated elite and the political elite. The state will suffer if it steps in to "return" the movement back to within its boundaries.

Religion has more protection in Singapore than secularism. The values of secularism are plural and pluralistic, so it is difficult for any single person to stand for secularism.

It is very interesting how (some) religion plays the homophobia card to rally people, to align people towards a singular cause, an ideological solidarity.

In Singapore, homophobia does not only stem from (ironically) Western-inspired puritanism and Christian Fundamentalism alone, but also from our rigid Confucian gender scripting (learned the word "scripting" from someone at a recent SinQSA meet-up). So there are sufficient resources and background for Singaporeans to be generally homophobic.

Moreover, there are existing discourses that can be usurped to forward the Christian Right agenda. For example, that of birth rates and procreation (the Singaporean [ethnic Chinese, mainly] dwindling birth rate discourse), that of Section 377A (the legal discourse), that of heterosexual procreation (the biological discourse) and that of homosexuality as an illness (the old medico-psychiatric discourse).

I liken this possibility to the hijacking of AWARE. Resources are already there, so why not invade, occupy and use them?

I am puzzled. Why are some religions obsessed with sex and sexual behaviour? What do these religions gain from the disciplining of sex? There are wars, poverty, environmental destruction, terrorism, income divide, and they want to discipline sex.

If there are same-sex relations being portrayed or discussed in public, it does not affect my family. So what's the matter?

If same-sex marriage is legalised in Singapore, it does not affect my marriage. So what's the matter here?

Can't we all just co-exist?

Any way, there are still many questions unanswered regarding the AWARE saga. I have one. They haven't explained how they rallied women to join AWARE so they can be voting foot-soldiers. Too much focus has been given to the exco. Have we forgotten about the members who have joined in January to March and played the AWARE constitution game well, and "legitimately" vote the new guard into power?

Check out (you can choose not to believe them):
God Gene
Christian Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism
Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

8 comments:

Weiye said...

"Lau and the other new leaders, who form a third of the entire exco, were democratically elected at the NGO's annual general meeting last month but have been accused of using strong-arm tactics to gain control of the organisation in what has been negatively portrayed by public media as an act of Christian fundamentalism."

No. They did NOT win the democratically! It's interesting why no one has dealt with this issue of democracy yet because it is my personal opinion that they did NOT win it democratically, even though there was a mise-en-scene of democracy.

The idea of democracy is that information is out for everyone to make their own decision! Calling a sudden poll to catch your opponents off guard is not democracy! Neither is the fugitive planning of running for election! The fact is that, they caught everyone off guard in an exercise that was supposed to be democratic. And in doing so, they have undermined the very nature of it.

Stop ruining the name of democracy.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." ~ Winston Churchill

-ben said...

FWIW, some bubble-gum pop psychology here:

A handful of studies in the 1990s, most of them focused on men, suggested that homosexuality is hardwired. In one study, researchers linked DNA markers in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome to gay males. But a subsequent larger study failed to replicate the results, leaving the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association to speculate that sexual orientation probably has multiple causes, including environmental, cognitive, and biological factors.

Today, however, a new line of research is beginning to approach sexual orientation as much less fixed than previously thought, especially when it comes to women. The idea that human sexuality forms a continuum has been around since 1948, when Alfred Kinsey introduced his famous seven-point scale, with zero representing complete heterosexuality, 6 signifying complete homosexuality, and bisexuality in the middle, where many of the men and women he interviewed fell.

The new buzz phrase coming out of contemporary studies is "sexual fluidity."

Fargoal said...

I think same-sex marriages is a "red line" for a sizable number of Singaporeans, who might also be partial to the "slippery slope" argument. From the conservative viewpoint, there seems to be a perception (rightly or wrongly) of "give them an inch (i.e. 377A), and they ask for a foot". The harder the "pro"-repeal group pushes (or are perceived to be doing so), the more galvanised the "anti" group becomes. Action and reaction (and vice versa). I'm not making any judgements here. Just giving my own assessment of the situation.

My personal view is an "intermediate" approach might be a way forward. Such a model would entail (i) repealing 377A and enshrining the principle of "no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation", to address the "pro" group's concerns about discrimination; (ii) build in measures to reassure the "anti" group that the sky will not fall down, i.e. explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages, reaffirm the traditional family as the basic unit of society, etc; and (iii) review of the entire gamut of inter-related issues in 20-30 years. This way, both sides can walk home equally unhappy. The "pro" group can claim a symbolic victory (i.e. repeal of 377A), and the "anti" group can claim that they successfully reaffirmed the sanctity of marriage and the hetero-majority slant of society. It's not a perfect solution. But we can always leave the second round to the next generation.

Just throwing out some ideas for discussion.

solo bear said...

Hi Sam,

While you feel that the important issue is the way AWARE was taken over, I feel that the important issue is that there appears to be a covert operation of introducing homo ideas to YOUNG IMPRESSIONABLE SCHOOL GIRLS.

I started off questioning the takeover like you. However, as time went by and more and more details surface, I feel that the MOST DISHONEST concealment of info is actually that covert CSE programme which allows pro-homos to introduce homo teachings to young girls.

How would gays like it if Christians were to introduce Xtian ideas to schoolkids, the way CSE does?

My views here. -
So, Aware was a front for promotion of gay and lesbian lifestyle after all

solo bear said...

Oopsie! Double posted. Deleted one of them. Sumthin' wrong with my connection. Sorry for littering your blog.

Chrisloup said...

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pressparliament/pressreleases2009/statement.aspx

2009 press release

The Royal College shares the concern of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association that positions espoused by bodies like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality ( NARTH ) in the United States are not supported by science. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore so-called treatments of homosexuality as recommended by NARTH create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists holds the view that lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. This includes equal access to health care, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association concluded there was no scientific evidence that homosexuality was a disorder and removed it from its diagnostic glossary of mental disorders. The International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation followed suit in 1992.

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I'm finally glad they spell out that NARTH is nothing more than a fiction/lie spreading institution.

as for solobear, how much gay porn can I show you to reorient you to become gay? if I can, then your sexuality is fluid, if I can't your entire argument is wrong.

when has telling the truth = promoting the homosexual agenda? if anything your brand of christianity is a pack of lies on a foundation of lies. as can be seen from the values of Thiology

Xtrocious said...

I agree with Weiye...

The new EXCO did not win it democratically but exploited the weakness in AWARE's constitution.

To be democratic, they should have revealed their ideals and visions and let the voters decide if this is what they want...

Of course, staging to have the majority of the voters on your side is not very democratic as well...

Anyway, back to Sam's question about religion and sex...

Here's a particularly interesting story I heard...

Long ago in China, an old monk and his initiate were on a pligrimmage when they came across this beautiful girl before a wide stream...

She needed help crossing it and without any hesitation, the old monk carried her on his back and helped her across...

But the young initiate was aghast by the act of his master carrying a beautiful girl on his back...

Then went on for a while before the initiate berated his master for doing such a "sinful" thing - monks and girls are not supposed to have contact it seems...

To the initiate, the old monk only had this to say...

"I have let the girl off at the opposite bank but it seems that you are still carrying the girl"...

Maybe this is something for the religion to think about...

The most of us have put that burden behind us...why are they still carrying it?

Sam Ho said...

i think maybe the words used might have created some over-estimation of the scenario.

i strongly doubt that Aware was "promoting homosexuality".

being gay-affirmative doesn't you are promoting homosexuality.

for example, i accept people who are queer, as human beings, and some of whom as friends, and some of whom i look up to. to deem such an acceptance as a promotion is a bit of a stretch.

when i comes to sex ed, sexuality has to be taught. like, for example, understanding one's orientation towards a specific sex or gender, gender image/role. what i understand is that they teach you to be comfortable with your sexuality.

so teaching you to be comfortable with "ABC" does not mean they are solely promoting "ABC".

there will always be some queer or questioning students in the crowd. no matter how small the number is, they deserve to know. and their friends should know something about queer identities too.

we should have education on homosexuality, about discrimination and the devices of discrimination. kids need to be aware of the sexuality as well as the related stigma. education on homosexual, for me, does not equate to promotion.

i think there is an overreaction, but it's a good overreaction to spark more outrage against queer people and the previous Aware leadership.

i was slightly homophobic when i was in secondary school. joined in the usual masculine ritual of engaging in homophobic insults. i think with an awareness education, i would have probably thought a bit harder.