MP Hri Kumar Nair weighs in on HPB FAQs on homosexuality

The controversy over the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on sexuality should not be reduced to an "us" versus "them" issue.

Instead, Singapore should raise the level of debate, and "have a frank conversation about our approach towards homosexuality", wrote MP Hri Kumar Nair in a Facebook note on Friday night.

Still, it is important to realise that information on sexuality should be readily available for people who need it, he said.

"While many have framed the HPB issue as a pro-gay or anti-gay one, let us not forget the reason for the HPB FAQs in the first place: there are people in our society who have questions concerning their sexuality and who are deeply affected by it. Their needs should not be ignored," he explained.

He added that HPB should not retreat from its educational role and should continue providing a channel for those seeking advice.

In November, HPB had put up a series of FAQs on its website as part of its programme to educate youth on sexual issues. The FAQs feature issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation.

One of them states that same-sex relationships are "not too different" from heterosexual relationships as they both take the commitment of two people.

Since then, a debate has erupted on whether some of the information on homosexuality was appropriate.

An online petition accusing the FAQs of being "pro-homosexuality" and asking for them to be reviewed has since gathered about 21,500 signatures. A counter petition applauding the FAQs has collected about 4,600 signatures.

Religious leaders and institutions have also joined the debate.