(Unpublished - August 2, 2010)
As Singapore turns 45 soon, most of us cannot help but be amazed at the short period of time we have taken to be where we are today.
We may have developed and progressed economically and become a first world nation, but I feel there can be more effort into making us a first world society.
Although there are many areas to be addressed, I refer specifically to the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Singaporeans, who are victims of policy, populist rhetoric and stereotypes.
It is gross injustice that the grounds for acceptance of our fellow LGBT Singaporeans are articulated in the terms of economic productivity, yet there exist the criminalisation of consensual same-sex sex, the lack of anti-discrimination laws pertaining to sexuality and gender identity, and discrimination at various levels of society.
At the same time, LGBT Singaporeans are subjected to myths that associate their sexual identities with paedophelia, promiscuity, crime, sexually transmitted diseases, moral corruption, corrupt "Western values" and other items worthy of moral panics. These are not only untrue and unjust, but also does not make the rest of us heterosexually identified people more saintly.
It appears that in the recent decade, we accept LGBT people so they can generally be exploited for their talent and labour, to help elevate Singapore's economic status. Yet, at the same time, we uphold institutional and social discrimination.
The mainstream media is also doing little to address this social inequality. It refrains from positively portraying sexual minorities, and at the same time, does not provide sufficient information and coverage on LGBT-related issues, unless a prominent public official initiates discussion on this area, as we have seen in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Queer-affirming people like myself, who support the inclusion and equal rights for sexual minority Singaporeans, end up silenced just like our LGBT friends have been.
Our government should not be tardy, apathetic or over-rationalising in adopting their "wait-and-see" approach to making Singapore a plural and truly diverse society.
I believe the government and media should take ownership in social justice, and lead by example by making the necessary changes in policy and in practice that favour the fostering of equality in this nation, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The government and the media have the privilege to address this inequality, something LGBT Singaporeans do not, as they live in a society homophobic and transphobic, apathetic or ill-informed.
We are still a young nation, one that is capable of even more achievement, such as equality for LGBT citizens.
Ho Chi Sam
Afterthought: I guess it's non-publication proves my point that sexual minority issues in Singapore will never be discussed in the Straits Times forum unless a prominent public official initiatives discussion or if an event of significant public interest occurs.