Survey shows young people have conservative view of gays
The Straits Times 22 June 2000
Reaffirming traditional sex roles, most say they will be upset if their child, brother or sister is homosexual
By IRENE NG
MOST young Singaporeans hold negative attitudes towards homosexuals and are generally quite conservative on the matter, according to a recent academic survey.
In the study, most students polled said that they would feel upset if they discovered that their child, brother or sister was homosexual.
The survey, which involved 413 students aged 17 to 35 from three educational institutionshere, was conducted last October by Dr Vivien Lim, a lecturer at the National University of Singapore’s department of organisational behaviour.
Almost nine out of 10 said they would be disappointed if they realised their child was homosexual. Eight out of 10 agreed with the statement: “I would be upset if I learned that my brother or sister was homosexual”.
Dr Lim said: “The prevalence of anti-homosexual sentiments generally reflects the strong support for traditional sex roles.”
It also suggests that, generally, youths in Singapore are still quite conservative in their attitudes towards gender roles and homosexuality.
Dr Lim found that, in general, women reported they were comfortable in working closely with male homosexuals, whereas men said they were not.
Her study, which is based on scientific survey methodology, is titled “Gender differences and attitudes towards homosexuality”.
It has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Homosexuality, a US-based quarterly devoted to scholarly research on homosexuality. It is published by Haworth Press.
Other recent research projects by Dr Lim include managing job loss and job insecurity in Singapore, and managing Aids at the workplace.
Her study on homosexuality in Singapore represents an initial attempt to examine attitudes towards homosexuals in a non-Western context, as much of the existing research on the issue focused on samples obtained in the West.
She sent her findings to The Straits Times after reading its feature, “Do gays have a place in Singapore?” published on May 27, which she said she found “very thought-provoking”.
The feature had examined a range of public attitudes towards homosexuality. It followed the Government’s rejection of an application for a permit by gay activist Alex Au to hold a forum on gay issues.
Explaining its decision, the police had said the forum would advance and legitimise the cause of homosexuals in Singapore. As the mainstream moral values of Singaporeans are conservative and homosexual acts are unlawful, it would be contrary to the public interest to allow the forum, it said.
Interestingly, in contrast to Dr Lim’s findings, another recent survey by a team led by Mr Au had found that 46 per cent of streetside respondents and 74 per cent of Internet respondents felt that they would be able to accept a gay sibling, if not immediately, then after a while.
Also, 41 per cent of streetside and 66 per cent of Internet respondents said they would be able to accept the fact that their child was gay.
Mr Au’s survey was conducted by volunteers and did not claim to be scientific.
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