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Singapore’s Health Promotion Board declares being gay is normal

Singapore’s leading public health organization has declared that LGBTI people are normal and not mentally ill in publishing an online Q&A on LGBTI issues – though homosexuality is still technically banned in the South East Asian nation
Singapore's skyline
Photo by Chen Siyuan

Singapore’s Health Promotion Board has said that gay people are normal and not suffering from mental illness in a new online resource aimed at better educating Singaporeans around LGBTI issues.

Established in 2001 the Health Promotion Board was created by the Singapore Government to help build a nation of healthy people and its online Frequently Asked Questions about Homosexuality resource was created in November last year – though it has only been noticed by the media now.

The resource came to the media’s attention after someone started an online petition to have it removed from the Health Promotion Board’s website – though less than 1,500 people have signed that petition.

A counter petition to keep the resource on the board’s website was started yesterday and has attracted more than 750 signatures in its first 24 hours.

In explaining same-sex attraction the resource states that being gay or lesbian is not a mental illness and also that human sexuality is more than just three boxes.

‘Homosexuality and bisexuality are not mental illnesses. Studies show that sexual orientation has no bearing on mental health or emotional stability,’ the online resource states.

‘Many people think that homosexuality and heterosexuality are on opposite ends of the sexuality spectrum, with bisexuality in the middle.’

‘In reality, human sexuality is much more complex. For example, some guys might consider themselves as heterosexual but have homosexual attraction towards men. And bisexuals might find themselves attracted to guys and girls at different times.

The online resource also clearly states that there is no way to make a person straight or gay.

‘While some are aware of their preferences from an early age, others come to understand their gender identity and sexual orientation later in life,’ the resource states.

‘It is important to note that nothing someone encounters in life can “make” one gay, lesbian or bisexual. Although events in life can help clarify gender identity and sexual orientation, sexual experience is not necessary to understand sexual orientation.’

The resource also clearly states that gays and lesbians can and do have stable relationships.

‘Homosexuals can certainly have long-lasting relationships. A homosexual relationship, like any other relationship, is based on values like trust, love, commitment and support,’ the resource states.

‘A same-sex relationship is not too different from a heterosexual relationship. Both take the commitment of two people. It’s also a connection of two families, cultures and sometimes racial backgrounds and values.

‘However, two people in a same-sex relationship may also have different comfort levels regarding their sexuality. A partner who is still coming out slowly may find it stressful if his partner insists on him meeting his parents. He may not be willing to attend a social gathering where he will be introduced as a gay partner. These issues are unique to same-sex relationships but can be resolved with openness, honesty and trust.’

The resource is a groundbreaking move by a Singaporean Government body considering that gay sex is still technically a crime in the South East Asian nation and has been welcomed by the organizers of Singapore’s LGBTI Pink Dot festival.

‘Wonderfully factual and balanced information on sexuality. What a great resource for LGBT people and their families! Thank you Health Promotion Board, Singapore,’ the group posted online.

The move comes only a week after Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that it was not his government’s role to lead the people on LGBTI rights.

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