Letter to Straits Times 18 July 2003 - No reason to condemn Gays

I refer to Mr George Lim Heng Chye's letter, 'Govt should rethink hiring of gays' (ST, July 15). Like him I, too, am 'a heterosexual man, married to a heterosexual woman and we have four heterosexual children (two male and two female)'.

Unlike him, I do not condemn homosexual people or their parents. I applaud the stance of the Prime Minister in announcing that the Government is more open to employing gays now.

The lack of understanding of the condition of homosexuality and the harsh homophobic views expressed in the letter are regrettable.

From my meetings with members of the gay and lesbian community, I have come to see them as normal human beings even though their sexual orientation is different from mine.

The professional mental-health organisations are clear and specific about homosexuality. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), no scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of any therapy that attempts to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. APA Executive Director Raymond Fowler states that 'groups who try to change the sexual orientation of people through so-called conversion therapy are misguided and run the risk of causing a great deal of psychological harm to those... they are trying to help'.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states: 'Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, as it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.'

The American Medical Association 'does not recommend aversion therapy for gay men and lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can become comfortable with their sexual orientation and understand the societal response to it'.

The American Psychiatric Association states: 'There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one's sexual orientation.'

The association also says: 'Gay men and lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation positively are better adjusted than those who have not done so.'

Professor Seow Choon Leong of Singapore, currently Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary, who edited the book Homosexuality And The Christian Community, gave this confession:

'I also used to believe homosexual acts are always wrong. Listening to gay and lesbian students and friends, however, I have had to rethink my position and reread the Scriptures.

'Seeing how gay and lesbian people suffer discrimination, face the rejection of family and friends, risk losing their jobs, and live in fear of being humiliated and bashed, I cannot see how anyone would prefer to live that way.

'I do not understand it all, but I am persuaded that it is not a matter of choice... I have reconsidered my views, I was wrong.'

In remaking Singapore, the Government is taking a forward step in recognising the rights of homosexuals. It is only right that we do not discriminate against anyone on account of race, religion or sexual orientation.

THE REVEREND DR YAP KIM HAO