Saturday, March 8, 2014

HPB’s FAQ a step forward in sexual health governance

(Published - Today Feb 5, 2014)

I read with interest the report “Health Promotion Board’s FAQ on sexuality draws positive response online” (Feb 5).

While some laud this as a progressive step, I feel that the HPB, as the leading stakeholder in the governance of sexual health in Singapore, has simply made the right decision.

It has cut through contestations for moral superiority by addressing issues at the heart of sexual wellness. By presenting up-to-date information in an unbiased, transparent manner, the HPB provides the service of educating.

Questioning youths and adults remain, and they may neither be properly informed about sexuality nor aware of available resources such as counselling and social workers.

The topic of homosexuality aside, it is ideologically jarring for many to comprehend the differences between gender, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The HPB has explained them in a simple manner, and persons who do not feel or embody the societal alignment of these identity characteristics can be informed without being judged and stigmatised. Sexual health affects everyone, regardless of orientation and persuasion.

Some are challenging the purpose and credibility of the FAQ, but are unaware that they are complicit in the denial of information for young persons unsure about their identity or at risk of self-harm or suicide.

I have encountered those who think they have nowhere to turn to because of the predominant, intolerant environment. I am no social worker or counsellor, and have directed them to relevant groups.

The HPB has unfortunately removed these links from the FAQ.

Persons who disagree with the HPB may play the moral, parental or religious card. As a father and one who believes that the family is an important institution, I am concerned about the implications of their disagreement.

I commend the HPB for taking steps to ensure that no Singaporean is left behind when it comes to the transparent dissemination of information on sexual health.

Ho Chi Sam

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