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We reproduce here with permission, in its entirety, a response that veteran Singaporean actor Lim Yu Beng crafted, and addressed to FCBC's Pastor Khong. This is in response to Senior Pastor Reverand Khong's address to former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, when the latter visited Faith Community Baptist Church's TouchCentre in Marine Parade last week.

Dear Sirs

I am writing with deep concern about the intentions of Pastor Lawrence Khong and LoveSingapore, who have jointly expressed to ESM Goh Chok Tong their wish to see the movement to repeal Section 377A stopped. My concerns are raised as a citizen, and any citizen should be able to raise concerns. My aim is only this: to foster better understanding and societal cohesiveness.  I wish to address certain points Pastor Khong has raised, from my point of view.

Pastor Khong says in his statement to ESM Goh that

“Examples from around the world have shown that the repeal of similar laws have led to negative social changes.”

“It attacks religious freedom and eventually denies free speech to those who, because of their moral convictions, uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists.”

“We sincerely pray for and look to the Government to provide moral leadership in preserving this basic building block and foundation of our society. And with that, to robustly protect our constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty; so as to ensure that social cohesion and religious harmony are maintained in Singapore.”

With that last sentence, I feel we are actually on the same page.  I feel it is incorrect to assume that all proponents of the repeal of Section 377A are gearing up to inflict “negative societal change”, to “attack religious freedom” or to “deny free speech to those who uphold a different view from that championed by increasingly aggressive homosexual activists.”

I feel that the whole tone of this discussion is unnecessarily coloured by fear and bogey-ism. I urge the reader to consider these points with a calm and clear mind, and nothing else.

Pastor Khong says on the LoveSingapore Facebook page that the repeal of Section 377A will lead to the establishment of anti-discrimination laws which will “reverse-discriminate against anyone who does not believe in the homosexual agenda. We will be prohibited to voice our moral and religious views on the issue.” He fears that this will lead to a situation where “freedom of speech and freedom of religion have been denied those who hold different views from that of the LGBT community.” He fears the enactment of “hate crimes” legislation, “laws which make it an offence to say anything against homosexualism. This drives the final nail into the coffin of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”

Pastor Khong goes on to say “We must not repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, because when we do that, we open the door of our nation to unbridled destruction. Our core values will be systematically eroded until homosexuality is elevated as king in our land. Subjects of this king will silence all dissenters and make them submit to a new orthodoxy.”

This is a very telling paragraph. Pastor Khong seems to be launching a “pre-emptive strike” on those whom he sees as having an agenda to curtail his and his followers’ religious freedom. It is a very fearful, almost terrifying vision. But hang on. Nobody has gone to the government to stop him from practicing his religion. What about others’ freedom? What about my convictions as a citizen? Do I have the right to exist differently from Pastor Khong? If he succeeds in his agenda, many will not have that right. Ironically, many of those he seems to think will take that right away from him are actually people who would fight for his rights too. They know what it’s like to have that threatened.

It could very well be said that, just as Pastor Khong seems to think there is a devious agenda to enslave all society to an enforced gay manifesto, perhaps he himself intends to force us all to adopt his way of thinking. After all, legislation is just that. Law enforcement ensures that certain codes of behaviour are adhered to. The law in question demands that the practice of homosexuality is not tolerated in Singapore. I don’t see anybody trying to vote into law a statute that criminalizes Pastor Khong’s brand of thinking. So the perceived threat is not what is feared.

To put it simply, Pastor Khong wants it illegal to be homosexual in Singapore. My point is this. Nobody is making it compulsory for him to be gay. Why should he make it compulsory for others to be straight?

The perhaps answer lies in Pastor Khong’s interpretation of his religious beliefs. I am not here to debate that, nor should anybody. They are his beliefs, and those of millions of others, and the right to these convictions is and must be protected by law. I do however question his right to impose those interpretations on others through legislation. But more of that later. Back to interpretation. Perhaps Pastor Khong’s basis for the desire to stamp out homosexuality via legislation is the Biblical verses which list homosexuality as precluding entry into the Kingdom of God. If that is so, my response is that he is absolutely within his rights to impose that point of view upon those who subscribe to his church or his collective. These people have “signed up” to these interpretations and accept and are responsible for these points of view. He does not have the right to use that as leverage to influence national legislature, wherein the entire country will have to adopt a stance due to his and his collective’s view. I must also point out the distinct difference between entry into the Kingdom of God as Pastor Khong sees it, and lawful existence within Singapore. If he feels that homosexuals may not enter the Kingdom, that is his right to believe so. It does not preclude the right of our homosexual citizens to exist in Singapore. It’s not the same thing, and not applicable in the same manner.

I am also slightly cautious about Pastor Khong’s use of LoveSingapore in order to further his views. I am going to be very careful here, as I don’t want to be misread. I am concerned because firstly, it can easily be misconstrued that

a) everybody in LoveSingapore shares this point of view

b) LoveSingapore represents the point of view of the larger Christian community in Singapore, or possibly all Christians

c) Religious groups have the right to impose their will upon state legislature, at the expense of other groups.

Let me be very clear and precise as to why point c) is an area of concern. I feel that any number of lobby groups with similar or opposing agendas should be able to operate. However, once the stamp of a larger collective, particularly a religious collective is invoked, it becomes potentially troubling. The scripture teachings which are often interpreted as prohibiting homosexuality were written to exhort the Judaic and later the Christian community. To apply them to national legislature is not an automatic cross-reference. It requires much deeper thought on all our parts. May one religious group exert its influence on legislature to make society more like the vision of its own community? To criminalize one sector of society seen as “deviant” from the perceived will of one’s God assumes the right to criminalize others who are not following that group’s way. This is very dangerous territory. In a sense, what Pastor Khong fears is the underlying “homosexual agenda” is closer to what he is doing. The attempt, if you see this thread to its logical end, tocriminalize opposing points of view. This is what I disagree with. As a firm believer in multi-religious, multi-cultural Singapore, my hope is for peaceful and happy co-existence. As ESM Goh says, people are free to stand by their own beliefs. Nobody has to believe the same thing as one another in order to get along. We can celebrate our differences and cheer on each others’ growth along our own paths.

In other words, I am all for Pastor Khong and his very well-meaning associates to continue the wonderful work that they do, in their own convictions. Pastor Khong writes in the same Facebook post a very heartwarming passage, which is far more understanding and moderate than many similar views often expressed on the subject.  He says:

 “I say to fellow Singaporeans who are part of the homosexual community: I repent of rejecting, alienating, and condemning you because of my own fears or ignorance of or indifference to your struggle. On behalf of the Christian community, I ask you to forgive us for where we have consciously or unconsciously rejected you or condemned you. I commit myself and my church to do our best to come alongside you in your sexual struggle—while not condoning sexual sin, be it yours or mine.” “Having said all the above with genuine sincerity, please understand that, as concerned citizens of Singapore and as Christians, we are NOT against the homosexual person, but we are unapologetically against the homosexual agenda. And that makes a world of difference.”

Although I cannot agree with many things said here, I strongly applaud Pastor Khong for demonstrating more understanding of the issue than many others. It gives me hope that he and his associates are not the rightwing extremists some of my camp may sometimes speak of them as, and I trust that he sees that we are not the sexually deviant (and devious)extremists some of his camp see us as. We are citizens. Let’s speak in that sphere.  It’s not actually about camps. It is, I hope, the beginnings of mutual forbearance, tolerance, and co-existence. That’s all the repeal of Section 377A hopes to be. Legal co-existence. Legalexistence.

Lim Yu-Beng


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