Student challenges gay education in Singapore on live TV

by tcjmhk
Educators defend Singapore’s position on homosexuality to teenage student
| By Anna Leach
Singaporean student Melissa Tsang on TV

A Singapore student challenged homosexuality education on a live news discussion TV show in Singapore yesterday.

During a panel show on Channel NewsAsia Singapore with teachers and a representative from the Ministry of Education, student Melissa Tsang questioned the kind of counselling a school would give an LGBT child.

In response to Mohana Eswaran, a teacher at Regent Secondary School in Singapore, who said she would refer students asking about homosexuality to school counsellors, Tsang said:

‘What kind of counselling are you going to give this child? Are you going to support this child or are you going to portray homosexuality or transgenderism in the light of deviancy?’

Tsang also pointed out that as homosexual acts are criminalized in Singapore, so teachers cannot inform students of the legal situation without making the student think that homosexuality is criminal.

Liew Wei Li from the Ministry of Education responded:

‘We understand this is quite sensitive, so we actually give you full information about the legal provisions about the homosexual acts. So we don’t criminalize homosexuality at all. No counsellor will want to make a child feel bad. You want them to have the full information.’

Consensual sex between two adult men is illegal in Singapore under Section 377A of the Penal Code.

An October 2007 review of the code repealed the parts of Section 377 which made anal and oral sex between heterosexual couples and lesbians illegal, but Section 377A remained.

During a long parliamentary speech on the matter at the time of the repeal, the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government would not proactively enforce Section 377, but they would not repeal it.

The prime minister said: ‘If we abolish it, we may be sending the wrong signal that our stance has changed, and the rules have shifted… Therefore, we have decided to keep the status quo on section 377A. It is better to accept the legal untidiness and the ambiguity. It works, do not disturb it.’

Watch the clip from Channel NewsAsia Singapore here:

This programme was broadcast on Channel News Asia on Tuesday, 10 July 2012. The “Talking Point” episode was entitled, “Should we promote safe sex along with abstinence?”
Madeleine, a teacher and mother of 2 teenage boys, phoned in to ask whether homosexuality would be included in the Ministry of Education’s 2013′s sexuality education curriculum and what counsellors would tell students if they were in a homosexual relationship.
A student on the panel, Melissa Tsang, raised very pertinent concerns about whether the counsellors would present a negative view of homosexuality in view of the fact that gay sex remained criminalised in Singapore.
Links:
Yahoo!News article, “MOE’s abstinence message sparks debate” dated 5 July 2012:
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/moe%E2%80%99s-abstinence-message-sparks-debate.html
“Respecting Our Gay Youths in the Revised Sexuality Education Programme”, an entry in the blog “My Right to Love”:
http://myrighttolove.com/2012/07/12/respecting-our-gay-youths-in-the-revised-…
“Abstinence and Sex Education”, an article by AVERT, the international HIV and AIDS charity:
http://www.avert.org/abstinence.htm



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