SINGAPORE - Social activist Vincent Wijeysingha has accused a Catholic priest of trying to molest him when he was a teenager, in a strongly-worded Facebook post on Monday night that attacked the Catholic Church and its stand on homosexuality.
His post was a direct response to Archbishop William Goh's statement last weekend that restated the Catholic Church's view of the family unit and that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relations is "not in accordance with the plan of God".
It also comes amid support by various groups of a Wear White campaign organised by a Muslim religious teacher to protest against homosexuality during this Saturday's Pink Dot event.
In a response on Tuesday night, the Catholic Church said in a statement to The Straits Times that its "stand on sexuality should not be distorted". The intent of Archbishop Goh's message was to clarify the Church's position on family, "and not to engage in a debate on the issue of LGBT purely on the level of reason, because faith while not opposed to reason, transcends reason" it added. The statement from the Archdiocese Communications Office, however, did not comment on Dr Wijeysingha's molest claim.
Dr Wijeysingha, 44, a former Singapore Democratic Party member, was Singapore's first openly gay politician. He quit the party last August to focus on LGBT rights and other civil liberties.
In the Facebook post he said he had, at the age of 15, met a priest "who would engage me in play wrestling and attempt to touch my crotch in the process".
The priest had also once taken Dr Wijeysingha to his bedroom to show him a stack of pornographic magazines kept stashed in his wardrobe.
"I haven't till now disclosed this sorry incident publicly. It never seemed momentous and so far as I'm aware, it didn't damage me," wrote Dr Wijeysingha.
"But Archbishop William Goh's pronouncements this weekend prompted me to. The Catholic church long ago surrendered its right to participate in the moral debate and Goh's statement must be put in this proper context."
He added that the statement has shown the local church "at its most disgraceful".
"What concerns me is the cynical attempt to portray the church as a compassionate and empathetic organisation concerned for the souls of LGBT people. This is entirely at odds with the teachings of the church government at the Vatican," said Dr Wijeysingha.
Referring to what he called a "global phenomenon" of child abuse cases that have rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States, he added: "The Catholic leadership has remained silent on the real problems that face our world. Today, it has no authority whatsoever, moral or otherwise, to comment on whom I can and cannot love."
Archbishop Goh had, in his statement read out during mass at 30 churches around Singapore last weekend, said that the family unit comprises a father, mother and children. and that LBGT relationships are "not in accordance with the plan of God".
However, the Catholic Church recognises there are individuals attracted to people of the same sex, he said, and discrimination of any kind should not be condoned, as "regardless of their sexual orientation... (they are) worthy of love and respect".
Seperately, on Tuesday, the Fellowship of Muslim Students Association (FMSA) became the latest group to back the Wear White campaign.
In a four-page statement, it supported the campaign as an initiative in response to the "growing boldness of advocates of the homosexual lifestyle" here.
It also described the Pink Dot event as one advocating the acceptance of a "hedonistic lifstyle" that goes against the moral code of Islam and other faiths, and voiced support for public education against homosexuality.
The Wear White campaign had already drawn the public support of Reverend Lawrence Khong, founder and senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church. The LoveSingapore network of churches, he said, will ask congregants to wear white as well this weekend.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has advised mosque officials not to get caught in the crossfire between the Wear White campaign and the Pink Dot event this Saturday.