Yawning Bread. September 2007

"It's a matter of time," says Lee Kuan Yew




Once again, even though the reporter did not ask a gay question, Lee Kuan Yew made reference to it. One cannot help but get the impression that it is an issue that weighs quite heavily on the government.

The interview I am referring to was the one he gave to the International Herald Tribune on 24 August 2007 (the story appeared in the 29 August edition). The newspaper was represented by Leonard M. Apcar, deputy managing editor, Wayne Arnold, a Singapore correspondent, and Seth Mydans, Southeast Asia bureau chief.

Excerpt of the transcript from the website of the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts:

Lee Kuan Yew: For the top 20 percent of the population, there are no constraints there. I would say . . . top 20 percent, the educated population. They're educated abroad, at university. So, they know the wide world and they are on the Internet and they've got friends, they e-mail them. They travel. Every year, about 50 percent of Singaporeans travel by air.

So, this is not a closed society. But at the same time, we try to maintain a certain balance with the people who are not finding it so comfortable to suddenly find the world changed, their world, their sense of place, their sense of position in society. We call them the heartlanders in the HDB estates [government housing developments], the people who live in three- and four-room flats. Three and four rooms are the lowest-end. Five rooms and the executives are the upper end.

And so we have this dichotomy. You can read the analysis by our academics who wrote that we are using the heartlanders to keep progress in check. But they have not governed the place. (laughs) The academics, they write these things from abstract analysis. Like gays, we take an ambiguous position. We say, O.K., leave them alone but let's leave the law as it is for the time being and let's have no gay parades.

IHT: Don't ask, don't tell?

Lee Kuan Yew: Yes, we've got to go the way the world is going. China has already allowed and recognized gays, so have Hong Kong and Taiwan. It's a matter of time. But we have a part Muslim population, another part conservative older Chinese and Indians. So, let's go slowly. It's a pragmatic approach to maintain social cohesion.

Three other things struck me. His awareness that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are ahead of Singapore indicates that he has been enquiring about the issue. To what extent he is absorbing what he's reading, I don't know, but you see an effort to find out.

The second thing I noticed was the reference to "for the time being" and "It's a matter of time." This tells you that the non-repeal of Section 377A, the law that makes "gross indecency" between males a crime, coupled with a clear statement that it would not be "pro-actively enforced", is seen as no more than a way station.

Until when? You might ask. Indeed that is hard to say. The government may be waiting to see whether this half-measure will still hurt economically. If it does, in the form of an unshakeable image of intolerant puritanism, making foreign talent hesitate before relocating here or Singapore-born talent refusing to return after studies abroad, then they will move faster.

The third, and most striking thing was his mention of Muslims and older Chinese and Indians, whom I often call the "traditional conservatives". Indeed there are many Singaporeans in these groups who would resist social change, but as most observers would have noted, the most vocal anti-gay lobbying comes from an altogether different quarter -- the dogmatic Christians, who tend to be better educated, more westernised and often, not "heartlanders".

Why did Lee not mention them? In fact, looking back, I don't think he has ever mentioned them. By now, I do not believe he doesn't know about their lobbying, since he has obviously spent time reviewing the subject.

There are 2 possibilities that I can think of:

1. He doesn't want to legitimise their opposition. He knows it is religiously based and that if he recognises their argumentation as a factor then he opens a Pandora's box for Singapore.

2. He has come to the conclusion that numbers-wise, they aren't important; actually, it is quite obvious, when compared to traditional conservatives. 

* * * * *


Meanwhile, the dogmatists try ever harder. Listen to this recording of Derek Hong from the Church of Our Saviour. It's so over-the-top, it's hard for any thinking person to take him seriously. 

He casts the struggle for gay equality as a selfish attempt to gain "special rights". He says Christians must "rise up" to fight the culture war, and that gays are acting on behalf of Satan. There's also an incredible amount of disinformation -- about how gays are scheming to eradicate Christianity, for example.

The person who sent the recording to me asked me to write about it, but frankly, there is no need to say much more. It speaks for itself.

In the middle part of Derek Hong's rant, he accuses gay people of wanting to "eradicate all self-help groups.... that seek to help homosexuals recover."

Now these are the notorious ex-gay programs that claim to "treat" homosexuality. Yet, over the years, there's been a steady stream of ex-gay leaders found to be lurking around still seeking homosexual sex. So much for being "cured". In 2003, I wrote about Michael Johnston and John Paulk in Ex-gay ministries and the cures that don't work

That article also tells of others who have come to their senses and spoken out against the ex-gay deception. In fact, the same month that Hong was speaking, five ex-gay leaders in Australia publicly condemned such groups.

23 August 2006
Sydney Star Observer

Conversion therapies condemned
by Cara Davis. Link.

Five former leaders of ex-gay ministries in Australia have publicly condemned the practice of teaching homosexuals to be heterosexual. Reparative/conversion therapies, which seek to alter a personís sexual orientation through disciplinary programs, have been dealt a blow in recent times as an increasing number of former leaders acknowledge that the practice does not work.

The apologies of three former ex-gay leaders at the Ex-gay Survivors Conference in Los Angeles in June encouraged a number of former Australian leaders to speak up.

Paul Martin was the former leader of Exodus in Melbourne, a ministry that "helped" men and women "find a way out of homosexuality".

There was not one person that I met or worked with who, in any genuine way, achieved the fundamental transformation from homosexual to heterosexual," Martin said.

The stress of attempting to change their sexual orientation, however, increased the risk of suicide, and absolutely led to erosion of self-esteem and increased levels of depression and self-deprecation at a very deep level."


Some people have suicided," he said. "But most people have now come to terms with their sexuality.

There is no success rate. The only success rate the programs have is a degree of heterosexual functionality, which is not a change of sexual orientation."

A number of Australian ministries still conduct conversion therapies today, including Living Waters and Liberty Christian Ministries.

In a way, I am glad Lee Kuan Yew makes no reference to such dogmatists from the Christian rightwing. They are nutcases, and a liability to Singapore.

© Yawning Bread 






US Senator caught looking for sex in toilet

And of course, we have the case of US Senator Larry Craig from Idaho. This silver-haired 62-year-old was caught propositioning in a men's toilet at Minneapolis - St Paul airport. While inside a toilet stall, he allegedly tapped his foot and made hand signals under the partition to the undercover police officer Dave Karsnia in the adjoining stall.

He pleaded guilty and was fined US$575 on 11 June 2007.

There have been rumours of Craig's homosexual tendencies since the 1980s, but he has always denied them, as he continues to say, even after pleading guilty, "I am not gay. I have never been gay."

I, for one, am glad that he said that. I wouldn't want to be associated with him in any way. He may have homosexual urges, but a gay person is someone who recognises his own self and sexual orientation, not someone who goes around in denial. A gay person has self-respect.

Craig, a Republican, has a Senate voting record against equal rights for gay people, and he supported a 2006 amendment to the Idaho constitution barring gay marriage and civil unions. Yet it wasn't incongruous to him to look for sex in men's toilets.

Craig has since resigned.