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Thursday, March 24, 2005

By Caleb

While it is good to know that PLU has not given up the fight for
existence (!) and registration, I do not feel that PLU represents my
interests or in any way speaks for me. To me, in fact, registration of
PLU is secondary since homosexual intercourse has not been
decriminalised in Singapore. By attempting to be a gay
pressure/interest group while not first fighting for decriminalisation
strikes me as ridiculous. There is nothing to represent / lobby for if
the group you claim to represent has no legal rights in the first

Indeed just this week a Safe Haven concert organised in support of AfA
has been banned on the grounds that a concert in which the main
performers were a gay couple would be 'promoting a homosexual
lifestyle' and thus illegal. This is not only untrue, it also displays
the usual lack of consistency in their policy towards such things. I
mean why not ban TNS's Top and Bottom or WildRice's Asian Boys Vol 2.
Indeed why not ban that Kids at Work show hosted by Chua Enlai? And
anyway the fact that the main performer is gay has absolutely no link
with the show promoting homosexuality. By this reasoning shows
featuring straight hosts have the effect of promoting heterosexuality.

But anyway as for the rest of the Balaji saga, I hope these extracts
off noconceptofliberty.blogspot.com will suffice:

As most of you should know by now, as part of the government's
attempts to kiss and make up with the moral majority (although
arguably they are in fact a minority, albeit a well-educated,
middle-class and therefore vocal one) in order to smooth the way for
their grand casino plan, a lot of anti-homosexual noises are now being
made. The noisiest mouthpiece so far has been the good doctor Balaji,
who recently claimed that Nation 04 was behind last year's rise in HIV
infections. This is in addition to other noises he made in the recent
past about gay bath-houses and saunas being a hive of unprotected and
therefore HIV-prone sex. Except, of course, he seemed to focus much
more on the fact that the sex was gay, rather than that it was
unprotected. This, I presume, will be the prelude to banning the
Nation party this year, which will then be paraded around as the
government's guilt offering to the abovementioned moral

Of course, in this case, Balaji would probably be gagging to point out
that it is not so much a case of morality as of public health. That
may be so, but clearly the lack of a sensible way forward on the issue
of HIV/AIDS in the gay community here is at least partly the result of
the criminalisation of gay sex. That Action for AIDS had their safe
sex booth at Nation 04 closed down by the police on the grounds that
all gay sex, safe or not, is illegal and therefore promotion of safe
(gay) sex is illegal -- which was true, but only in a most twisted,
legalistic way -- is perhaps only too obvious an indicator of this.
Beyond that, and more importantly, there is the basic fact that trying
to engage with a community whose very existence is technically illegal
is most unlikely to result in constructive dialogue and will
inevitably fall into mutual mistrust, hysteria, and acrimonious
incrimination. This new concern with HIV/AIDS among gays in Singapore,
if concern it truly is and not merely a tool of cynical demagogic
manoeuvring, should wake the government up to the fact that their
'don't ask, don't tell'/'criminalisation-as-moral-appeasement' policy
is untenable. It is time to speak with one voice on this matter, not
with one underground voice targeted at AIDS interest groups and
another, sanitized, voice to some abstract public which is too
conservative/polite/whatever to hear of such naughty goings-on.
Decriminalisation now is of prime importance because we need to hear
open, informed and disinterested views on this issue, not lobotomised
anti-gay propaganda, and most of all we need to hear gay men and women
speak up without fear about safe sex, the problem of AIDS and indeed
about the myriad possibilities of gay life beyond sex.

Which brings me to the Other Side Of The Coin. Many gays are well
aware of the dangers of barebacking, especially if one keeps multiple
sex partners. Yet they persist in their insouciance and indifference
to basic safe sex measures. (Importantly, though, this is 'many', not
'all'. I think that there is a not insignificant number of young and
less-educated gay men who are much more uninformed and are therefore a
prime and unfortunate target for bareback-fetishists. But really, this
merely brings us back to the Wolfenden report and my previous point.
It is precisely this group which is 'specially vulnerable' and which
is constituted of the 'young' and 'inexperienced'; therefore it is
precisely here that the law must act to protect them, not by
continuing to criminalise homosexual acts, but indeed by allowing for
proper and value-neutral outreach and education programmes by removing
the current barrier of hypocritical criminalisation.) They accept and
indeed embrace a gay culture which has turned them into lobotomised,
superficial, sex-obsessed, gym-enslaved, catty indentikit robots,
where having unlimited and preferably unprotected sex with an
unlimited number of similarly tanned and muscular 'MSM' is considered
the very paragon of a good life and is indeed their only conception of
a good life for a gay man. In an important sense, therefore, those who
are active in 'the scene' here must look to themselves first if they
want to find the origins of the recent spike in HIV infections among
gay men -- a phenomenon that AfA had already warned about last year.


Blogger Thrasymachus said...

Hi Caleb

Just to clarify. Maybe most people have the same impression of Dr Balaji speech as you've stated in your article. In actual fact, media only chose his infamous 101/3,071 words from his parliamentary speech.

He actually, had a dialogue session with the gays of Singapore but did the media cover that? Nope. He presented a holistic approach to tackle HIV and mentioned that gays must not be discriminated but did the media covered that? Nope. He initated a counselling and support system for HIV victims and people who are shocked to find out that they are HIV positive but did the media release that? Nope.

He was not one who is discriminating and "moralist-centred" as the media portrayed him to be. Much of the behind-the-scene work that he tries to help the gays was unmentioned.

I am neutral on this incident and not bias or siding balaji. But I do think that he is at the wrong receiving end of the unfounded criticizm. Every wondered why JBJ, Dr Chee, Chiam and Low Thia Kiang, vocal oppositions, didn't openly oppose his views like they always do on government issues? It not that they are gagged but they comprehend his parliamentary speech better than most people.

July 01, 2005 10:20 am  

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