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Gan Kim Yong

HPB doesn't encourage same-sex relationships: Gan Kim Yong

Published on Feb 18, 2014 2:28 PM
 
The Health Promotion Board's (HPB) frequently asked questions which have been a topic of controversy do not encourage same-sex relationships, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The Health Promotion Board's (HPB) frequently asked questions which have been a topic of controversy do not encourage same-sex relationships, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Rather, they provide advice to young persons and their parents on mental and physical health issues from a public health perspective.

Mr Gan reiterated that there has been no shift in the Government's position that the family is the basic building block of Singapore's society, and that HPB takes reference from this consistent position in its health promotion activities.

This means encouraging heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units, said the minister.

He made the comments in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan on Monday.

In November, HPB had put up a series of FAQs on its website to educate youth on sexual issues such as sexual orientation.

A debate erupted last month on whether some of the information on homosexuality was appropriate.

In his reply, Mr Gan noted that the FAQs provide a one-stop resource of factual information from a public health perspective on sexuality. In particular, they provide specific information to young people at risk of engaging in sexual behaviours.

He drew attention to one of the FAQs, saying that the statement that "A same-sex relationship is not too different from a heterosexual relationship" and the statement that follows: "Both require the commitment of two people" should be taken together.

They highlight that relationships require commitment, and it is possible to remain faithful to one's partner, regardless of one's sexual orientation, said Mr Gan.

This drives home a key sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV prevention message to be faithful to one's partner, rather than to have multiple partners.

This helps to protect individuals from STIs and HIV, minimise transmission risks, and safeguards public health, Mr Gan added.

He noted that HPB tailors its sexual health education initiatives to the health concerns of specific target groups, and has identified Young Men Who have Sex with Men (YMSM) as one target group for STI and HIV education.

To reach out to this group, HPB works with non-governmental organisations, voluntary welfare organisations and professional counsellors to produce educational resources, he added.