Pastors ignite debate over gay rights in SingaporeBy Kirsten Han Jan 23, 2013 2:56AM UTC
It first began with a statement from Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong, the senior pastor of the Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC), made during a visit by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. During his address, Khong appealed to ESM Goh for the Singapore government to retain Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sexual acts between men.
The statement, which was also posted on Khong’s Facebook page, attracted a flurry of comments, many of which were pro-gay rights. The reaction led to a series of posts on his Facebook page addressing “the homosexual agenda”, and that the repeal of Section 377A would “open the door for the advancement of the homosexual agenda in Singapore.” With the patriotic call of “Majulah Singapura”, Khong encouraged Singaporeans to oppose the repeal.
Khong’s message was picked up by Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong from the Cornerstone Community Church, whose blog post initially saying that “the church must get herself into battle footing, and be battle-ready” against the LGBT community. The post has since been edited.
The two pastors are also leading members of LoveSingapore, a network that represents about 40,000 Christians in the country. The network has stated that it will organise to oppose the repeal of Section 377A.
“If they [the LGBT community] had not pushed for the repeal, we would not come out into the public square,” Yang told The Straits Times. “You touch a law that affects us, we have the right to speak up.”
Many Singaporeans have responded to the anti-gay sentiments. Actor Lim Yu Beng posted an open letter to Khong, asking, “Nobody is making it compulsory for him to be gay. Why should he make it compulsory for others to be straight?”
Reverend Miak Siew from the Free Community Church also penned a response: “The repeal of 377A poses no threat to families bound together by love. Instead, the idea of a “traditional family” is a threat to all families – because it has placed obstacles in how parents understand their children who are different and it has made people who do not fit in – whether they are single parents, divorcees, or children who are orphaned, whose parents are not around by circumstance – ashamed of who they are.”
The debate has gained so much momentum that the Attorney-General Chambers’ has released a statement reminding all parties that the High Court is still due to hear two cases on Section 377A, and that any comments “calculated to affect the minds of the courts hearing the case” will constitute sub judice and be in contempt of court.
Following the AGC’s statement, Yang has now said that he has told his parishioners to refrain from making comment.