The Health Promotion Board’s FAQs on Sexuality

I just came to know of our Health Promotion Board’s FAQs page on sexuality, thanks to a Yahoo! News Singapore article by Michelle Kwara.

From the list of questions, I see it’s meant to help parents who have gay or bisexual children, or think their children may be gay or bisexual. I can’t begin to describe how unusual I think this is, how surprising and heart-warming, how necessary and important this step from a government body like the HPB is.

Questions listed include:

  • Is my child normal? Is being gay or bisexual a mental illness? Should they seek medical help?
  • Where can my child find support in Singapore?
  • Can homosexuals have long lasting relationships?
  • Will my child feel like he or she has let me down by being gay or bisexual?
  • How should I react if my friends notice my child’s sexual orientation?
  • Are homosexual and bisexual men more likely to get STIs/HIV?

I didn’t expect this, but I just started crying when I read some of the questions on the list. I just sat in front of my monitor and wept for all the parents who had to ask these questions, regardless of whether they eventually accept their children or not. I don’t have children and will never know or understand their pain, and confusion, their terror and helplessness, their anger and their trepidation that the world had just gotten that much harder and more cruel for their kids.

***

The delicious irony is that apparently the FAQs page has been up since November last year, but became viral only in the past few days when someone named ‘Aaron’ started a petition against it on 3rd February, because he thinks it “dangerously promotes homosexuality“, and urges Health Minister Gan Kim Yong to conduct a review of the website’s information.

So basically, if Aaron had not been mean enough to criticise something that was only meant to offer some help and comfort to parents who are anxious and struggling with their children’s sexuality, I and I’m sure many other people would not have even heard of the FAQs page.

So, thanks Aaron, for the publicity! May news of this FAQ page reach many more Singaporeans and far and wide all over the world, so that more praise and thanks can go to the deserving team at HPB.

***

The following day, 4th February, a counter-petition was set up thanks to a Melissa Tsang, recommending that Minister Gan “ignore the ridiculously misinformed and regretfully bigoted petition“. It points out that “The health, safety, and wellbeing of LGB (err, where’s the T, though?) youth should not be battleground for the homophobic to advance their agenda, especially not to the HPB. Opponents can ride their moral high horse elsewhere.

It also urges HPB to “restore the original version.” Because, as Yahoo! writer Ms. Kwara reports, the original had featured links to organizations where the parents can seek further information and counselling:

The original sexuality FAQ had contained links to various lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) organizations and counseling hotlines such as Oogachaga, SAFE and AFA Singapore, in an answer to “Where can my child find support in Singapore?”. These links have since been removed.

I hope they will be restored. Thank goodness for the internet, but the links should still be restored because it’s the right thing. My God, it’s just outlets to help that those links offer to connect to. Why deny people the help they need for emotional wellness?

***

Lastly, how cool is it that the Health Promotion Board’s ‘FAQs on sexuality‘ does not neglect to address bisexuality?! I’ve read articles on how bisexuals are not taken seriously even by some gay people. I don’t know the prevalence of this. Here’s a link to this related article and another one.

***

Related:

  • Oogachaga – Counselling and support organization for LGBTQ individuals
  • SAFE – ‘Supporting, affirming and empowering our LGBTQ friends and family.’
  • AFA – Action for AIDS Singapore
  • Pink Dot SG – Facebook

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Update 17 February 2014:

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7 thoughts on “The Health Promotion Board’s FAQs on Sexuality

  1. That’s awesome! As a parent of two children, I was often asked how I would feel if my kids were gay. Usually, the question was posed as a “deterrent” to my own sexuality by someone who was prejudice against homosexuals.
    Sadly, I secretively hoped my children wouldn’t discover they were gay. Not because of shame or because I felt it was wrong… Because I didn’t want them to suffer the same pain and fears I’d suffered.
    Websites that offer parents, friends and family a place to start finding answers is a great beginning to eventually ending the intolerance that too many feel. Ignorance leads to fear which leads to hate. The first step is to remove the ignorance!

    • Thank you!

      I’m not a parent, but if I am I would totally have that same thought at some time or another, that I hope my kids wouldn’t turn out gay. For the same reason that I don’t want them to go through the pain I went through. Being gay or bisexual, we know first hand and only too well the prejudice they would have to face, despite the strong support we can give them, and despite their generation having a somewhat improved or better time in terms of information and acceptance.

      I absolutely agree that fear and hate are bred by ignorance and therefore the first step is to remove the ignorance. Which is what the Health Promotion Board’s FAQs page helps to do, and so it should receive nothing but praise and support, not undermined and attacked. But oh well, unfortunately there will always be bigots, what’s important is that the HPB is helping to impart important information and advice to those who need it, so that’s great.

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 7 Feb 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  3. This doesn’t fit in with anything I thought I knew about Singapore and its government. (Isn’t this the police state which cuts off hands for graffiti?? — he asked, mostly joking) Which means I have to learn more about Singapore and its government. Thanks for getting me started, Halim! And good news for all involved. Societies evolve as individuals become more enlightened… one person, one parent, one neighbor, one child at a time.

    • It was a big surprise to me too, and many other people I think. It’s such a good thing, because ‘conservative’ straight parents in the relevant situation might be reluctant to turn to gay associations for help, so I’m happy for them they are getting some sensible good advice from a government agency, which they might be more open to. It’s a start, which hopefully would lead to better things. You’re right, societies can only evolve when we are more supportive of one another, one person at a time.

      The illegal graffiti thing, actually part of the punishment under the Vandalism Act I believe, is caning, which may not be as horrific as cutting off hands but to me is still barbaric, so shame on us for that :-(

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Steve!

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