Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Orlando and our Singaporean irony

Frankly, without being too emotional about the inherent vulnerability and dispensability of an LGBT Singaporean in recent times, I find all the reactions by Singapore's political leadership ever so hypocritical.

A journalist called it out for what it is: "Orlando was both a terrorist attack and a homophobic attack on LGBT people. It was both the worst mass shooting in US history, and the worst targeted mass killing of LGBT people in the western world since the Holocaust... If a terrorist with a track record of expressing hatred of and disgust at Jewish people had walked into a synagogue and murdered 50 Jewish people, we would rightly describe it as both terrorism and an antisemitic attack."

Both the Singapore government and the leading opposition party in Parliament today have done their respective calculations. They have, as a matter of political expediency, decided that they are better off not supporting or endorsing what they construe even as a hint of an LGBT issue. 

The Prime Minister's statement (below) and others expressed by the leadership in Singapore are an example of this whole attitude. Condemnations of heinous attack, expressions of condolences, hopes for recovery, etc, but nothing about the significance of this attack on the will and ability of a person to lead their precious life as an LGBT person.

On the one hand, we sanction what some jurisdictions would see as widespread persecution of LGBT persons at all levels of governance that would qualify these same persons as refugees in those jurisdictions. And, on the other, we condemn that very same bigotry that escalates into violence against those persons for whom we ourselves created a culture of persecution against. Oh, wacko the ducks!

What persecution we ask? 

Any attempt to discuss an LGBT matter is seen as an attack of Singapore's heterosexual family unit. The rebuttal to that attempt is often cast as the defence of attacks to the shared values of a young nation state. The harder the attempt, the stronger the push-back, we are told. 

The LGBT person is often characterised as having made a lifestyle choice, which one can easily abandon. The state would rather have an LGBT person grow old as a forlorn single man or woman (in a 2-room HDB flat no less) only to be cremated or buried by an absolute stranger at the end of life! 

The recent attempt to muzzle funding of LGBT causes is another irony for a state that has been happy to be flushed with millions of dollars in foreign funding and other support to run its many banks, companies, schools, hospitals and homes to retain its very sacrosanct heterosexual family unit that, in turn, keep the wheels of its bureaucracy moving.

We can go on.

An LGBT person may want this country but it doesn't necessarily mean the country wants him or her. The whole attitude of this country has been to underscore that its society will be better off without them, and that they will be better off setting up a space, a family and a home they can call their own elsewhere.

There can only be one message to Singapore's present political leadership in such a context. Let's not bandy about sentiments that merely serve to rub salt to a wound and secure your political future. Please save your condemnations, condolences and conveyances about this homophobic hate crime if you can't, in the first place, be fully transparent about what it is.

Dharmendra Yadav

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