06/24/2014, 00.00
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For Singapore archbishop, the Church protects the family, condemns gender discrimination

Singapore's sixth 'Gay Pride' is scheduled over the weekend. In response, a Muslim leader promotes a counter-demonstration, joined by Protestant groups. Bishop Goh points out that the Catholic Church supports the traditional family, but condemns all forms of discrimination because "we are all children of God."

Singapore (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church "has always maintained, and continues to maintain, that the family, comprising a father, mother and children, remains the basic building block of society". Whilst the Church "recognises that there are individuals who are attracted to people of the same sex" and rejects "Discrimination of any kind, it "upholds the view that LGBT sexual relationships are not in accordance with the plan of God," said Mgr William Goh Seng Chye, archbishop of Singapore, as he joined one of the ongoing debates in the city-state.

Recently Christian groups joined Muslims in the 'WearWhite' movement to counter the sixth edition of the "Pink Dot" event, a Singapore version of "Gay Pride" that drew 21,000 people last year. 

Social tensions have been building up in Singapore over the past few years, over issues like immigration, the rising cost of living and housing, and the civil rights for homosexuals.

These are sensitive issues in a country where dissent and protests are frowned upon and public demonstrations need permits following rigid procedures.

Last year, the "Pink Dot" rally was held a few months after a court ruled against a petition to decriminalise sexual relations between men.

In response to gay pride, this year Ustaz Noor Deros, a Muslim teacher, launched the WearWhite movement last week, urging Muslims to boycott the Pink Dot events.

Local Protestants joined the initiative, including Baptists and churches that are part of the LoveSingapore network.

A study from the Institute of Policy Studies shows that most 78.2 percent of Singaporeans feel that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex was always or almost always wrong, and 72.9 percent of them were against gay marriage. However, support for homosexual and transgender movements is growing.

Given the fact that questions, discussions and doubts have risen among Catholics, the archbishop decided to speak in an official statement. In it, the prelate noted that "while the Church considers every individual as having equal dignity" without distinction "based on sexual orientation", it upholds the the principle that homosexual relationships "do not correspond" with God's plan.

Bishop Goh understands the "confusion" of some of the faithful, but reiterates the Church's position on the traditional family, without "discrimination" towards anyone else because "we are all children of God."

"Whilst the Church calls for compassion, and mutual respect," there are ways to "ensure justice and protect human dignity" without "putting at risk the future of the institution of marriage, the family and society," he noted.

In Singapore Catholics number more than 200,000, or about 5 per cent of the total population. Buddhism has the largest following with 33 per cent, followed by Christianity with 18 per cent, Islam with 15 per cent, and Taoism and Hinduism with 11 and 5 per cent respectively.

The local church is going through a phase of growth and dynamism illustrated by the opening of a theological seminary, a real "milestone" for the local community.

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