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Singapore government promotes a religious cause

in SINGAPORE, 19/01/2006

Govt gives $100,000 to Christian-linked anti-gay group

By giving $100,000 to Liberty League, as reported by ChannelNewsAsia (CNA), the Singapore government is helping to promote a religious cause founded on unscientific and psychologically damaging methods.

Liberty League intends to "promote gender and sexual health" through "conduct[ing] sexuality talks in schools" - CNA report.

However, Liberty League's website promotes a book 'Freedom of Choice'. The book's subjects were almost totally from the Christian group, Choices, which runs programmes teaching that homosexuality is a psychological dysfunction. The book thus promotes this kind of pseudo-therapy propagated by fundamentalist Christian groups.

Mr Leslie Lung, the founder of Liberty League has long been known to be associated with "ex-gay" ministries. The "ex-gay" or "reparative therapy" movement is strongly associated with the more extreme churches in the United States. Liberty League's website itself uses terms such as "sexual brokenness", "addiction and abuse".

In a seminar organised by the Graduates Christian Fellowship on 13 October 2005, which described homosexuality as a psychological problem, Liberty League was touted as resource for counseling. It was recommended by Mr Tan Thuan Seng, the President of Focus on the Family, Singapore (FOTF-Sg) who is known to regularly give anti-gay talks in Christian circles.

FOTF-Sg is an affiliate of Christian- and US-based Focus on the Family as can be seen from the latter's website. The anti-gay, proselytising stance of Focus on the Family is well known. One may therefore infer that since it was recommended by FOTF-Sg, Liberty League shares a similar position regarding faith and homosexuality.

Liberty League is also lauded on the website of Exodus Singapore, the Christian ex-gay group, . It too speaks of "sexual brokenness" and teaches "God's plan for sexuality". On its Policy page, it says, "Exodus Asia Pacific cites homosexual tendencies as one of many disorders that beset fallen humanity.

Christ offers a healing alternative to those with sexual and relational problems."

An 18-year-old student who had attended one of Mr Lung's earlier talks in her school wrote in her report (deposited with People Like Us) that she had to "sit through a one-hour treatise on why homosexuality was wrong, and if we had any same-sex attractions, we should immediately seek help and 'turn straight'.

"He made several references to God and the Bible during the talk," she wrote, and that "it was pretty insensitive to everyone non-Christian."

It should be noted that in his statement to CNA, Mr Lung spoke of "coming out of [homosexuality]". At first glance, this phrase appears similar to "coming out" - the well-accepted process of healthy psychological development for gay and lesbian persons - but
it is in fact a trojan horse for the opposite: destructive self-denial of a person’s own sexuality.

PLU finds it reprehensible that while the World Health Organization [1] and reputable psychological associations [2] no longer treat homosexuality as a disorder, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) would still fund an organization that has been founded on this unscientific and damaging premise. (More information on this in Annex.)

The government needs to explain why the NVPC thinks $100,000 is money well spent when given to a disguised religious cause based on unscientific psychotherapeutic approaches that seek to deform young people's sense of self-worth and psychological health.

PLU also notes that the published guidelines for eligibility for funding from the NVPC include the stipulation that all programmes must be secular, and believes the government needs to explain its grant to Liberty League when even 18 year-old students can so clearly spot its religious agenda.

The government also needs to explain how this grant is consistent with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's claim that the government is not homophobic, made in a comment to the Foreign Correspondents Association on 6 October 2005.


ANNEX

The matter becomes more ludicrous when one realizes that even other Asian nations like Japan [3], the People’s Republic of China [4] and Thailand [5] no longer consider homosexuality a mental disorder.

In relation to therapies to correct homosexual orientation, the American Psychiatric Association, reaffirmed its stand in 2000, that attempts to "repair homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable." [6] A study by Shidlo and Schroeder of 202 individuals who attempted sexual orientation therapy found less than 4 percent were able to rid themselves of same-sex attractions while 78 percent of respondents experienced long-term psychological distress as a result of the attempt. [7]

REFERENCES

1 The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in its International Classification of Disorders-10 in 1992.

2 American Psychological Association

British Psychological Society

Australian Psychological Society

Canadian Psychological Association

3 http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/section.php?id=5&detail=313

4 Chinese Classification and Diagnostic Criteria of Mental Disorders removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on April 20, 2001

5 http://www.studentbmj.com/issues/03/02/news/7.php

http://www.thinkcentre.org/article.cfm?ArticleID=1933

6 American Psychiatric Association’s Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative orConversion Therapies)

7 Shidlo, A., and Schroeder, M., (2002) Changing Sexual Orientation: A Consumers’ Report. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(3), 249. Refer also:

Schroeder, M., (2001) Ethical Issues in Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapies: An Empirical Study of Consumers. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy 5(3/4), 131.

Bright, C., (2004) Deconstructing Reparative Therapy: An Examination of the Processes Involved When Attempting to Change Sexual Orientation. Clinical Social Work Journal, 32(4), p. 471
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