Pink Dot has been around since 2009. But this year, religious groups are getting into the act, with the Wear White campaign launched by a 28-year-old Islamic teacher becoming the headline grabber.
One angry Muslim, Mohd Khair, criticised the Pink Dot organisers on social media for using a “Muslim face” for their latest promotional video.
He wrote on Facebook: “It is clearly a desperate act by the LGBT community to show that the Malay or Muslim community also supports them and their agenda.”
But quietly – amid the ominous standoff between some religious groups and the LGBT community – a number of Muslims have put their names down on a joint statement by civil societies.
Put an end to discrimination against the LGBT community, they say.
Many are hesitant to speak to me fearing a backlash.
Take the case of Adee Sardali, who appeared in the Pink Dot promotional video. She was quickly condemned by her community – with some casting doubts about her religiosity.
In March this year, three students from the National University of Singapore were admonished for writing an open letter against NUS professor Syed Khairudin Aljunied for decrying lesbianism as “cancer.”
After some persuasion, two of them decided to go on record.
Shahril Shaik Abdullah, 36, from The Reading Group, said he dislikes hatred and bigotry carried out in the name of religion.
“Something needs to be done and someone needs to speak up, before it gets out of hand and before those in the LGBT group gets pushed to the point where they are no longer recognised as equal human beings. Signing the statement is one way to make our voices heard,” he said.
Ariz, 22, a student from Singapore Management University barely looked comfortable when we spoke. But he remembered his close friend who is a lesbian.
Ariz also knows what’s it like to be discriminated against. He is an Indian Muslim who cannot speak either Malay or any Indian language.
“I feel I know what it’s like to be the other, to be hated for being different and looked down upon for things you cannot control,” he said. He emphasised that he is open to different perspectives.
Reflecting on his religion, he said: “Islam teaches us not to impose our views and beliefs on others… let there be no compulsion in all matters of faith.”
“Idol worship in Islam is a grave sin but we have learnt long ago to respect other religions in Singapore.”
The joint statement also got the support of a number of Christians.
Joshua Woo, 32 and a Presbyterian preacher, said that Christian hardliners can approach the issue in a more embracing manner.
There are Christians who want the Church to move beyond its established stance on LGBT. He said: “This camp likes to portray Christians who differ from them as hopelessly outdated, bigoted and discriminatory.
“I would like to believe that I am applying the same keenness in raising questions and re-examining positions, not only on the traditional church’s teachings but also extending the same inquiry to the LGBT’s position.”
Lee Tuck Leong, 39 and a Catholic, said: “The Catholic church position does not say LGBT is wrong per se. It is far more nuanced,” But this view is often lost in translation pitting the LGBT in one camp and those who practise Christianity in the other.
“The Catholic church is concerned about how same-sex relationships might redefine marriage. Perhaps through dialogue, we can re-examine Pope Francis’ proposal to open doors for civil unions between same-sex couples, so that marriage remains defined as between a man and a woman,” he said.
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