Category: Current Affairs
Published on Monday, 22 June 2015 00:00
Written by Shawn Danker
“If they push the agenda too hard, there will be a very strong pushback. And this is not an issue where there is a possibility that the two sides can discuss and eventually come to a consensus. Now, these are very entrenched views, and the more you discuss, the angrier people get.”
It's a statement by the Prime Minister that seems to have had a polarizing effect online. I've seen pro gay rights folks get heated up over those remarks made by PM but I've also seen some of many conservative friends vigorously agreeing with PM as well. I guess that PM might be right if I went by the conservative reaction to him.
But the entire Pinkdot matter has got me scratching my head wondering why can't we all just live and let live. The crowd that came out in support of Pink Dot's freedom to love certainly seemed to think so. We tend to think of Singapore as the land of frowns, where everyone never really smiles thanks to the constant stress of working life. But all that negativity melts away for one annual Saturday afternoon.
Once a year, the LGBT community gets to look like it hasn't been sidelined by mainstream Singapore. It's very uplifting to see people coming together for a common non-political cause. The folks behind Pink Dot have done a marvelous job in creating an occasion and space to make everyone feel welcome and be a part of one happy community.
However, "The LGBTs are under containment" might be the spin that is still being used to describe the LGBT situation within the private corridors of power. This might explain why past appeals by Pink Dot organizers for a space larger than Hong Lim Park have all been quietly rejected. I'm pretty sure that both the organizers and authorities are cognizant of the potential dangers of an overcrowded public park entail. So far we're been very lucky that each Pink Dot has gone off accident free. We just have to hope that luck holds out until the G realizes that a bigger space or closing traffic around the park will go a long way in ensuring public safety at a very popular public event.
I was at Pink Dot two weekends ago. It was for work but I still got to soak up the atmosphere. There were times when I felt that I could feel the love that was radiating in the air of Hong Lim Park. I watched as families and friends tucked into picnic food together. It felt right, seeing family togetherness in public in Singapore. Being there made me forget that there were battle lines being drawn on Facebook. With one side preaching religion while the other preaches acceptance. The massive irony being that while everyone preaches love, their tone sometimes betrays them, making both sides sound hateful and bigoted. "You are either with us or against us. There is no in-between" is the common rhetorical refrain.
The Chiongs, a lesbian couple who gave birth to a baby girl, came under fierce attack
by members of the “We are against Pink Dot” Facebook page after their blog was shared on the page.
Then there was that Ikea Lawrence Khong fiasco that even made the most non confrontational person look like a member of the torches and pitchforks crowd.
These incidents simply prove that despite political spin, there will always be pockets of discrimination, even in the most liberal of societies. The question is whether a societies' laws are robust enough to guarantee equal protection to all. That's why the gay community here is still upset with the G's refusal to repeal 377a despite executive assurances it will not be enforced. The legislative ambiguity also means that no help will be rendered to whoever has questions on their sexuality and how they can deal with it. The G seems to think that encouraging people to live like eunuchs and abstaining from sex is the best solution to the sexuality issue.
Pink Dot's steady growth is proof that our society has slowly become far more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Yes, we still have a bunch of poisonous people who are vehemently opposed to LGBT rights, but those people are slowly being rendered obsolete by history.
So is the PM right to say that the more you discuss the angrier people get? Maybe for now it is. But we all know deep down in our hearts that the day is coming when he will be proven wrong. And we will be the better for it when it happens.