Gay community expresses mixed feelings about prominent activist charged for drug crime

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A prominent gay activist, Dr Stuart Koe, was hauled to court yesterday for six drug-related charges (including one of trafficking) and the gay community have expressed disappointment that the incident will cause the public to have poor view of it.

Dr Koe was one of the 3 petitioners who appealed to parliament to repeal Section 377A in 2007. He is also the managing director of a local pharmaceutical company, ICM Pharma and the founder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) news and social networking site Fridae.com.

The 44-year-old allegedly sold a packet of crystalline substance which contained 0.17g of methamphetamine, to another man for $240, at a Spottiswoode Park Road apartment on 25 Aug last year.

Reverend Miak Siew, the pastor of the gay-friendly Free Community Church, said that the community should not kid itself about the harms of drugs. “I know far too many lives destroyed by meth (ice),” he said.

And added: “Addiction is a disease that takes over a person and it is dangerous and irresponsible to say “a little bit” is ok.”

Nic Lim the founder of the Facebook page ‘GLBT Voices Singapore’ said that he had been repeatedly attacked in the past by people in the gay community for posting honest entries about drug use in his page dedicated to gay confessions. They accused him of painting a bad image of the community and of disgracing them.

“So long a huge swath of our community prefers to pretend that we don’t have a drug problem (and we definitely do), then we will lose more and more of our gay brothers and sisters to it, and see more of them in the news,” he said.

Otto Fong, a former Raffles Institution teacher whose coming out in 2007 caused a stir, said:

“But let’s be rational here and look at the real problem. It isn’t Koe who blocked all positive portrayals of gay people in the media. This is a concerted effort by others to erase all the good stuff gay people have been doing – like charity for orphans, creating families in spite of the odds, researches, shaping policies, being great healers and teachers. Just erase our contributions, and make sure the public only reads only the bad things. How can individuals like Koe fight against a tide of people coached weekly to complain, to repeat lies and to hate us with irrational fervor?
I can only hope the younger generation of gay people and straight allies find a better solution. Instead of aiming our hopes and frustrations at Koe, we can do far better to reflect on ourselves and what we can and need to do.”

Another prominent gay activist, Kelvin Wong, said that the conversation on drug use needs more clarity.

“I think we need more clarity when talking about drug use. There is drug use for medical purposes, drug use for recreational purpose, drug abuse and drug addiction. There are growing cases that not all drugs have the same level of harm and addiction level. It is those whose addiction level is high and/or harmful that we need rigourous awareness. There are drugs that have shown to help medical conditions. So we cannot lump drug use or people’s attitudes to drugs the same boat. Furthermore, the law on drugs is historically politically driven and has little relevance to science and facts as the law treats all drugs the same. We could well say the same about alcohol, but because is not against the law and socially accepted people are getting drunk nightly in pubs and dead pissed or dying of liver related failures but nobody cares as much.”


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