Chirag Agarwal, a former Singaporean diplomat, writes about socio-political issues in Singapore. He is currently a public policy consultant in Australia
Australia recently legalised same-sex marriage in what was a historic moment for the country. While in some parts, the world is tottering towards increased protection of gay rights, in others, frustratingly, the community is still oppressed. Back home in Singapore, male gay sex remains a crime, although the government has, for its part, promised not to “harass gays” or proactively enforce the now infamous section 377A of the penal code.
Growing up in a conservative country and a religious family, I did not consider equality regardless of sexual orientation as a fundamental human right. In fact, even up until the time I left Singapore as a working adult, I did not have a single friend who I knew to be homosexual. It was easy to be apathetic about something that I only understood to exist in theory.
Things changed when I moved to Melbourne and made my first openly gay friend. At the same time, a robust intellectual debate on marriage equality was playing out in the media. Around that time, a close friend from Singapore revealed that she was in a same-sex relationship.
Having learned of my friends’ sexual orientation after I became good friends with them made me wonder: would our friendship be any different if I knew they were gay or lesbian before I met them? The answer seemed obvious: their sexuality made no difference and, honestly, it was none of my business. Read more via South Morning China Post