Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The AWARE saga: Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

The debacle surrounding Aware is most unfortunate for a voluntary organization which has served an important role in our society.

Some said the damage is done. If this is true, then both the old and new guards need to shoulder equal responsibilities. If Aware goes down, both the creator and the conqueror will have only themselves to blame.

An issue that is in the center of the debate is about homosexuality. The old guards are accused to 'promote' homosexuality; while the new guards are accused for being 'anti' homosexuality.

None are politically correct positions. Naturally, they have both denied the accusations. But their actions and words do not seem consistent.

In yesterday’s Straits Times, the new guards’ ‘mentor’, Dr. Thio Su Mien, talked about the old guards' pro-homosexuality stance. Although she denied to be anti-homosexuality, she blamed the old guards for not labeling homosexuality as a 'negative' word, alongside ‘pain’ and ‘HIV/Aids’. Another new guard, Ms. Maureen Ong, cited her worry that her children may be influenced to become homosexual as her motivation to join Aware.

But the old guards should shoulder half the responsibilities too. The concerns about their pro-homosexuality orientation are not new. There were questions from the members and public, for instance, one from Dr. Thio, about why it has chosen a film on homosexuality in one of its event. My guess is that those concerns have not been addressed to the satisfaction of some people. They were warned, but they choose to ignore the warning. Some comments in the past weeks have attributed the fall of the old guards to complacency. I would think that this is more of poor judgment than complacency.

Now, the old and new guards are like two ostriches who bury their heads in the ground. They thought they are fighting against their enemies. The truth is that they are fighting against themselves. The real fight is between their personal belief and their willingness to acknowledge it publicly.

Perhaps, they are both not suitable to lead an organization like Aware, if we can agree that most women do not consider homosexuality as 'the' major concern in their life. I wouldn't mind, subjected to the approval from the Registry of Societies’ office, to see two new societies, one for, and the other against homosexuality. At least, if they fight again, we will have a 'neutral' Aware as a mediator.

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