Pink ‘pushback’, online hate groups, and gay rights in Singapore

The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision today on the constitutionality of gay marriage across all States is met with celebration and disdain in various quarters. The binary opposition in pro-gay and pro-family, as those these two rhetorical extremes were mutually exclusive, is growing, and the effect of this around the world is remarkable.

I stumbled upon this blog post contains some interesting, forthright reading about today’s decision from an American context. Indeed the blogger’s arguments are interesting, particularly what he says about rights being seen as a “cosmic force that gives [liberals] whatever they want”.

But what I’ve never been able to understand — and no one has yet satisfactorily explained to me — is how one person’s marriage affects everyone else’s? If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get into a gay marriage. A same-sex couple simply doesn’t affect the vast majority of the rest of society, and they aren’t recruiting — no matter what the pro-family camp try to say.

It just doesn’t seem to make sense. Yes, I can understand your religious objections. You don’t like gay men and women – I get it. I know you are just uncomfortable with the whole thing. But how, in any sane way, can you possibly claim that such a thing undermines your own happiness, or the own private strength of your own marriage?

Another fallacy is that marriage is thousands of years old. It really isn’t. The institution of marriage is not that old at all. Procreation, on the other hand, goes back to the first humans (for obvious reasons). But, the idea of consensual marriage is not even uniform today, and nowhere in the world does it require procreation to qualify as real marriage. In some countries you can have four wives; in others, you pay to get one; in some contexts you can even mail-order them from far-off countries. In the early Islamic period in Arabia, Mohammed authorised the keeping of servant girls who weren’t even wives, to be used for sex. These are not things we’d condone today, of course, but if there is one strand in common it would be that traditional marriage (as I think the blogger intends the phrase) is interpreted — whether in Europe or Asia — as being about a commitment to constant companionship and love, with the expectation of attendant social recognition and economic concessions.

And that fits precisely the definition of people who wish to pursue a same-sex marriage.

But what makes this phenomenon all the more interesting is the “pushback” (a phrase coined by the Singapore Prime Minister) in reference to the social reaction to the growing popularity of the Pink Dot movement.

Elsewhere, we have seen such ‘pushback’. The Asher’s Bakery fiasco in Northern Ireland entrenched positions clearly, with two distinct forms of opinion taking shape. Ironic that just seventy miles south of Belfast, the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to amend the Irish Constitution to alter the definition of marriage.

Singapore’s ‘pushback’ is seen most vividly by anyone on Facebook who searches for the ‘We Are Against PinkDot’ group. This group, growing now to 6,000 plus members, tolerates no opposition nor debate. It serves as an echo-chamber. Although they claim to represent the majority of the country, they represent the majority of a certain generation and section of society. It’s clear that younger people – at least not those who belong to one of the Mega Churches or Mosques – are quite indifferent at worst, or supportive at best of the Pink Dot movement.

The group maintains a very difficult position to defend: we love you very much, we have gay friends, but we seek to criminalise you and ensure you are never represented fairly in public debate —because we love you. It’s a circular fallacy, it doesn’t really make sense, but it gets repeated often enough. Although every so often, more honest emotions emerge, such as this one from a very prodigious contributor:

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Outlandish justifications for the group’s positions are frequently circulated and vented – in the vein of “if a man can marry another man, why can’t he also marry a chimapanzee?”

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Exhortations for the decline of civilisation are also issued. Today’s American Supreme Court decision now means the imminent decline of the United States, the end of the entire world as we know it:

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Medical studies are posted frequently, often discredited ones. Ex-gay testimonials are all around. But it is this bizarre alliance of Christians, Muslims and Islamists (one member of the group is a Singaporean exiled in Australia, who is on the government’s wanted list for political subversion and is persona non grata in the country) – still, I suppose, misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. The point being, people who would never ally together in the offline world are united – so literally – in a common cause.

And despite the hysterical rantings of WAAPD, and its barely disguised hateful rhetoric, such a pushback is occurring. And around the world, we see a wedge being driven further and further between people.

Which, perhaps, is a good thing – because this will become a political issue in the end, rather than just a cultural one. And by being political, it will be settled on democratic terms – conceivably one day in the manner that the Irish settled it.

Change is slow but sure, and the unthinkable becomes thinkable, society shifts a bit, people throw out old ideas which no longer work and embrace new ones. It’s inevitable really.

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