National University of Singapore Political Association’s (NUSPA) upcoming university forum, “Our Families”, has attracted controversy online after supporters of the traditional family took issue with the line-up of speakers invited by NUSPA.
Those who opposed the line up said the speakers were too “pro-LGBT” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and were concerned that the forum would be “one-sided”.
The speakers are: Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng, who supports the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes anal sex between men; Ms Jolene Tan, programmes and communications senior manager at woman’s rights group AWARE; and Mr Leow Yangfa, a deputy executive director of LGBT advocacy and counselling group Oogachaga.
NUSPA’s poster of the talk, which depicts 4 different types of households, including a lesbian family with a child, has attracted over 500 comments since it was uploaded onto NUSPA’s Facebook page on 2nd March.
One netizen, 45 year-old Mr Greg Cheong said that the “Government’s definition of family” should be used. He quoted Lee Hsien Loong’s parliament speech in 2007, where Lee had said that family is defined in Singapore as “one man, one woman marrying, having children and bringing up children within that framework of a stable family unit.”
Another netizen, 55 year-old Arthur Gan said that he hopes a pro-family view could be added so that the forum could be a “fair discussion”.
Many other netizens however voiced their approval for the organizer’s choice of topic, which also covers the nuclear family unit, single-parent households and elderly couples living alone.
NUSPA has come out to clarify that it does not endorse any particular group or type of family.
Institute of Policy Studies senior researcher Mathew Mathews, the moderator for this upcoming forum, says: “At some stage, Singapore will have to decide whether it wants policies to reflect social realities or use policies to conform families to certain ideal.”