Three movements in the West – Alfred Kinsey’s controversial publications on sex, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the Gay Liberation Movement – set the foundations for the sexual revolution of the 1970-80’s. This resulted in a widespread culture of individualism expressed as the “freedom to love”.1 Since then, time-tested social and gender roles have been rejected as archaic and invariably, the freedom of choice has resulted in conflict and confusion for the individual and society.
Societal mores. Although sexuality is a personal issue, it has effects beyond the individual.
Some argue that others should not interfere with the private and sexual lives of homosexuals if the relationship is between consenting persons. However, this argument has been equally applied to campaign for “freedom” and “equality” of other ideologies such as polygamy and incest.2
As homosexuality is promoted, normalised and celebrated through avenues such as the mainstream media, the arts and entertainment, education and the law, public opinion can be shaped in favour of homosexuality. The normalisation of homosexuality may challenge the foundations and values on which societies are built.
Different societies have different perceptions of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Whilst other countries have legalised same-sex marriage, Singapore is today still recognized as a traditional and conservative Asian society.3 However, with globalisation, heavy influence from the West and the widespread use of social media, cultural norms have shifted and become more liberal to the extent that divorce, cohabitation and premarital sex are more accepted today than in generations past. Will homosexuality in due time become accepted as a norm rather than an alternative?
Public health risks. There are well-documented medical consequences of homosexual practice. Sexually transmitted diseases are more common among sexually-active homosexual persons than among sexually-active heterosexual persons.
In particular, HIV/AIDS has surfaced as a notable concern. The U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that MSM (men who have sex with men) are 40 times more likely to become infected with HIV/ AIDS.4 Even though less than 3% of the Singapore population are estimated to be homosexuals6, HIV infections through homosexual transmission exceeded that of heterosexual transmissions in 2013, with homosexual transmission accounting for 46% of new HIV/AIDS cases.7
Despite advances in medical technology, there remains a window period during which HIV cannot be detected.8 Therefore, some countries have banned self-declared homosexual persons from donating blood, while other countries have lifted the ban due to concerns of discriminating against homosexual people.9/10
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vol 59, No.37, 24 September 2010, p.1201)
5. Dr Amy Khor, Speech by Minister of State for Health (8th Singapore AIDS Conference,17 November 2012)
6. Sandhya Somashekhar, Health Survey Gives Government Its First Large-Scale Data on Gay, Bisexual Population (The Washington Post, 15 July 2014)
7. Ministry of Health, Update on the HIV/AIDS Situation in Singapore 2013 (Last updated 30 June 2014)
8. Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Pro/Con Two Views of US Prohibiting Gay Men’s Blood Donation (Los Angeles Times, 10 October 2011)
9. Dustin Siggins, Federal Government Considering Letting Gay Men Donate Blood (LifeSiteNews.com, 5 December 2013)
10. Dennis Campbell, Gay Men Can Donate Blood as Health Experts Lift Controversial Ban (The Guardian, 8 September 2011)