FAQ list 'does not promote same-sex lifestyles'

SINGAPORE - A list of questions and answers on sexuality compiled by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) that became the subject of controversy does not encourage same-sex relationships, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said.

Rather, it gives advice to youngsters and their parents on mental and physical health issues from a public health perspective.

Pointing to one of the frequently asked questions (FAQs), Mr Gan said the statement that "a same-sex relationship is not too different from a heterosexual relationship" should be read together with the next sentence: "Both require the commitment of two people."

They highlight that relationships require commitment and that it is possible to remain faithful to one's partner regardless of sexual orientation, he said. This drives home a key message on preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV: Be faithful to one's partner rather than have multiple partners.

"This helps to protect individuals from STIs and HIV, minimise transmission risks and safeguard public health," Mr Gan said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan on Monday.

There has been no shift in the Government's stance that the family is the basic building block of Singapore society, Mr Gan said, and the HPB takes reference from this consistent position in its activities.

This means encouraging heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable, extended family units, said the minister.

In November, the HPB posted a list of FAQs on its website to educate youth on issues such as sexual orientation.

A debate erupted last month on whether some of the information on homosexuality was appropriate, with church pastor Lawrence Khong, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar Nair and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) among those who weighed in on the matter.

Mr Lim welcomed the minister's affirmation of the Government's position. In a Facebook post, he said: "I intend to move on as I do not wish to see this becoming a religious group versus the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender) debate."

He also urged Singaporeans "not to condemn or use hateful words" against homosexuals.

"It is not for us to judge them even if we do not agree. Let's move on and work together to build on the Singapore that we want to see for the future," he said.

charyong@sph.com.sg


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