Building bridges with the LGBT community

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Among the headlines today are the cases of Numan Afifi, Indian preacher Zakir Naik, and the 11-year-old child bride. Hopefully, we’ll be able to examine these in turn, starting today with Numan’s case.

Numan decided on Monday to withdraw from working with Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, quoting extreme pressure from right-wing conservatives regarding his background in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activities.

I think progressives are correct in saying that no one should be discriminated against or denied opportunities to serve their country simply because of their sexual orientation.

To save time, I’ll say up front that I’m not here to angrily condemn and denounce the government, nor am I here to be an apologist for their actions.

The common line taken by centrists and those currently in power is that the new government should focus on more urgent and pressing issues such as tackling the nation’s debt, not feeding the rise of a radicalised far-right opposition, and so on.

I suppose this is not an unexpected response. It may be wise to view completely altruistic and principled behaviour in politicians more as a bonus than as a given.

Nothing I say is likely to discourage people inclined to yell and vent their frustrations at politicians or make them act otherwise, and that is all well and good. They are certainly within their rights.

What I might try to do, however, is encourage a widening of horizons - not to provide another exhortation to be “patient” and think of the “bigger picture” per se, but perhaps discuss some expanded strategies to achieve similar goals...

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