HPB should decline Focus on the Family's help offer

I refer to Ms Joanna Koh-Hoe's letter, "Sexuality FAQs - more balanced approach, please" (MyPaper, Feb 17).

Let's start off with the title itself. The Health Promotion Board's (HPB's) FAQs on sexuality page was the most balanced it could have been, covering all aspects of sexuality and providing access to information for all citizens of Singapore, regardless of sexual orientation. I'm not sure how "more balanced" it could have been.

The HPB has to be there for all citizens and not leave out a minority simply because a group objects. It deserves to be applauded for the inclusive and equal manner it handled this subject.

It's good that Focus on the Family understands the complexity of the issue in relation to sexual orientation and the diverse views on the subject. However, its comment on a "cure" is misinformed.

Even the pioneers of conversion therapy have already apologised to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for the harm they have caused, and recognised that sexual orientation is an intrinsic and fundamental component of an individual.

Focus on the Family also says that it is "hard to separate the issue from morality", which, by implication, would imply that a same-sex relationship is immoral.

I strongly object to that line of reasoning, which stems solely from religious bias. To say that the love between two people of the same gender is any less than that between two people of the opposite gender is an ignorant concept so complete that I cannot even grasp it.

Indeed, while on the subject of morality, I wonder if Focus on the Family has forgotten that we live in a city state where prostitution is legalised.

The organisation continues with the comment that homosexuals can have long-lasting relationships, but that the likelihood is low. How it has arrived at this conclusion - when such relationships, for the most part, are not openly discussed - is beyond me.

Personally, I know of same-sex couples whose relationships have outlasted those of many of their heterosexual counterparts.

If we are comparing statistics on heterosexual and homosexual relationships, we should also cover those on both divorce rates and adultery, just to be fair.

Quite frankly, it scares me when I see such groups come out of the woodwork. While I'm sure Focus on the Family's offer to work with the HPB is genuine, I sincerely hope that the latter will decline, as it's clear that the former's views are very biased.

And it's biased views like this that do the most harm to our society. They create a climate of stigma and fear that no person in a society should be subjected to.

Because there is little or no education on the subject, it is buried in the "let's not talk about it" pile.

On a parting note, let me just add that sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate.

Ms Koh-Hoe said the FAQs could have included statistics that show homosexuals to be 40 times more likely to contract HIV than heterosexuals.

According to the Ministry of Manpower's statistics for Singapore residents, in 2012 there were 220 new cases of HIV infection via homosexual transmission, compared with 210 via heterosexual transmission.

I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty certain that the former's number is not 40 times that of the latter.

Barry Smyth 

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