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Is S'pore ready for a gay MP?

April 26, 2011 - 10:16pm

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We asked 100 Singaporeans ...

Q: Would you mind if your MP is gay?

NO: 76%

YES: 24%

"We should be open because there are people like that in our community. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with what they do in Parliament."

- Joyce Chan, 50, unemployed

"I believe that the MP should be elected based on his capabilities and not which team (gender) he bats for."

- Timothy Yeo, 22, intern at a law firm

WILL Singaporeans object to a Member of Parliament (MP) being gay?

The New Paper randomly polled 100 people of various races, religions and ages here, and 76 said they have no objections, while 24 were uncomfortable with it.

Half of the respondents were between the ages of 17 to 25. Of that young group, 10 said they would object to an MP being gay.

Those who did not object said they based their view on the capability of the individuals, rather than their sexual orientation.

Said housewife Elizabeth Ong, 50: "I won’t mind as long as the MP can prove to me that he has the brains and leadership."

Agreeing, Ms Kim Chia, 34, an assistant vice-president in a bank here, said she looks out for someone who can be "of service to the residents and take Singapore to a higher level".

Those who voiced concerns against having a gay MP based their views not only on religious beliefs, but also on personal preference.

Said student Jecolia Tong, 18: "I'm not against gays, but I just feel that people aren't used to publicly accepting someone who represents them to be homosexual."

Some felt that a gay MP would bring up viewpoints in Parliament they would find hard to accept, especially with regard to gender or relationship-related matters.

Accounts executive Lim Y G, 40, added: "Somehow, I feel that a gay MP would not be sound enough to take care of our welfare."

During the Aware saga in 2009, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng reiterated the Government's position on homosexuality.

In May 2009, he responded to queries from The Straits Times and said the Government's position on this issue was "clear".

"It was stated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament in October 2007, and it has not changed. PM Lee said that Singapore is basically a conservative society and the conventional family, a heterosexual stable family, is the norm...

"However, we recognise that homosexuals are part of our society. They have a place in our society and are entitled to their private lives," he wrote.

DPM Wong had also indicated then that society will not reach a consensus on the matter for a long time.

Additional reporting by newsroom interns


TNP PHOTO: Gavin Foo

SDP: 'We don't have a gay agenda'

SDP says it will not promote homosexuality but supports repeal of anti-gay law

DECLARE your political agenda and motives.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and the People’s Action Party Holland-Bukit Timah team laid down that challenge to Dr Vincent Wijeysingha.

Dr Wijeysingha leads the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) in contesting for the same GRC.

His party secretary-general, Dr Chee Soon Juan, responded in a video on the party's website. "We are not pursuing the gay agenda," he said.

What gay agenda is he talking about?

The background to this bloody battle for the GRC is a YouTube video entitled "Vincent Wijeysingha – Gay Agenda", uploaded on April 14 by a contributor with the moniker "JohnTan88888".

The video was later tagged with the statement, "This is the video the Singapore Democratic Party is trying to hide."

In the video shot during a forum, a speaker refers to Dr Wijeysingha as possibly the first gay MP (Member of Parliament).

Dr Wijeysingha speaks after he is introduced.

Addressing a crowd of about 10 people in the undated video, the speaker calls for a constitutional challenge to repeal Section 377A.

The PAP team quoted Dr Wijeysingha as saying at the forum: "I think the gay community has to rally ourselves.

"Perhaps one outcome of today's forum would be, for those of us who are interested, to come together to further consider how we can address the 377 issue as well as further rights issues in relation to gays and lesbians."

Would Singaporeans mind if their MP is gay?

Of 100 people polled by The New Paper, 76 said they would have no issue. (See poll results below.)

But in its statement, PAP's Holland-Bukit Timah team said: "The issue is not Wijeysingha’s sexual orientation. That is a matter for him."

Instead, the statement said the video raises the question on whether Dr Wijeysingha would "pursue this cause in the political arena".

In response, Dr Chee said: "Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has asked whether the SDP is pursuing the gay agenda.

"Let me state categorically, we are not pursuing the gay agenda, and none of our MPs will."

Repeal Section 377a

While SDP said it is not pursuing the "gay agenda", it has been championing the repealing of Section 377a.

In the YouTube video, the speaker calls for a constitutional challenge to repeal Section 377a of the Penal Code, dubbed by some in the gay community as the anti-gay law. The section states that it’s a crime for men to commit an act of gross indecency with each other.

The New Paper asked Dr Chee during an SDP press conference yesterday where the party stands on the law.

He said: "We do not discriminate against race, religion or sexual orientation. We are very sure that we want to speak up for all Singaporeans."

Mr Alec Tok, who was introduced as the party's candidate for Bukit Panjang SMC had also said that 377A ought to be removed, adding:

"As far as my position is concerned, this discrimination was created and should be removed."

The New Paper had also asked during the press conference where the party stood on gay rights.

The response?

"What you see posted on our website, that is our stand. The party's stand has been made clear," said Dr Chee.

So what is posted on the party's website?

Since 2007, the party has been arguing that Section 377a "discriminates against a segment of our population and that discrimination, in whatever form, has no place in society".

It also argued that it wasn't enough to show tolerance. The nation must accept fellow citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.

The New Paper turned to new candidate and former government scholar Tan Jee Say.

The ex-principal private secretary to then-Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had argued that the Government lost its moral compass when it went down the casino road.

Does he think he has lost his moral compass working with a party that advocates gay rights?

Mr Tan replied: "I will quote to you what Nelson Mandela said. This was told to me by someone.

"When he was young, he was against gays. When he became an adult, he stood corrected. When he became old, he embraced gays."

But while his party advocates acceptance, Mr Tan, declined to go so far.

"I am tolerant," was all he said.

The PAP team also raised another issue in their statement.

And that is on sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years.

It is now against the law to have sex with a boy under 16. The New Paper polled 137 Singaporeans to ask if they would agree to a lowering of the age to 14.

Only eight said yes.

In his video response to the PAP team, Dr Chee said the party's candidates were people of integrity and capability who speak up for all Singaporeans and "not just a segment of Singaporeans".

He again called for Dr Balakrishnan to make public the accounts of the Youth Olympic Games and debate the SDP's Holland-Bukit Timah team.

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Comments

A candidate's sexual preference does not matter.  What is important is who he is.  Vincent is is a highly intelligent, articulate and sincere person.  That more than qualifies him to be a candidate in the coming elections.

I would not be comfortable if there is a gay MP as I feel the present govt stand is right

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