Appendix to Press Statement

April 24 – Appendix to Press Statement of Old Guard of AWARE

The Truth (in reference to April 24 – ST: Group’s agenda ‘took gay turn’. Read it here!)

Members of AWARE’s current executive committee cited a list of past AWARE events to support their accusation that Aware is “pro-lesbian”. These are the facts about each event they cited:

Accusation: “Promoted a lesbian movie”
The truth: Every now and then, various organizations and corporations hold charity events in aid of Aware. In 2007, Cathay-Keris Films and Encore Films, co-distributors of the movie SPIDER LILIES, raised funds for Aware through a charity gala premiere screening of the movie. This is not the only charity screening in the history of Aware. The popular “Singapore Dreaming” and “Mrs Henderson Presents”, amongst other films, have also been screened in aid of Aware.

It should be clarified that Spider Lilies was NOT part of our comprehensive sexuality programme as has been suggested, but a fund-raiser screening which had the appropriate rating.

Accusation: “Held a men’s workshop”
The truth: To stop the abuse of women, we need to engange men as well. Men are the other half of the equation: men who feel they need conform to society’s macho stereotypes are less likely to be caring fathers and supportive husbands. Finnish expatriate Bert Bjarland had spent 20 years working with men’s groups in Finland and wanted to tackle this issue with Aware.

“Wants to let men vote”
The truth: This has been a long-standing issue from Day 1 that Aware was set up. To meet our objective to raise the status of women, we need the support of like-minded men. We felt in our early years that we were not ready to let men vote, but we have been thinking more about this issue now that we are more established.

The debate about men joining has NEVER EVER been about inviting gay men to join AWARE. This allegation is a total distortion of the truth. The 2008 AGM records very clearly records what the arguments were in relation to this issue. It was a robust debate but certainly, there was no mention of the change being made to allow gay men to join.

Accusation: “Schools Sexuality Programme”
The truth: This is a holistic, secular, sexual education programme designed for young women. It aims to replace the silence and shame associated with sexuality with practical information and skills. By bringing sexuality into the open – and talking about controversial topics like contraceptives and homosexuality in a neutral way – young people are more likely to make wise, realistic, and informed decisions based on principles of mutual respect and gender equality.

Accusation: “Mother’s Day 2006” event
The truth: The bond between a mother and a child is precious, and this should not change despite trying circumstances, like the revelation of a child’s homosexuality. Instead of having a conventional Mother’s Day event, Aware decided to hold a roundtable discussion on this topic to strengthen family ties.

“Invited Gay Activist Alex Au”
The truth: This 2005 forum “Playing it Safe: Keeping HIV at Bay” was organized in response to the threat that women faced from the rising incidence of HIV / Aids in Singapore. Mr Au was among a panel of four people – the three others being a doctor, a representative from Action for Aids, and then Aware president Braema Mathi – who spoke on the subject. Among the issues Mr Au raised was how preaching abstinence to young people without giving them the tools to protect themselves from HIV is not working. The forum also raised the issue of how embarrassment can keep heterosexual couples from getting themselves tested for HIV. You can read more about it here:

“Reaching Out to Transvestites”
The truth: Aware’s immediate past president, Constance Singam never talked about reaching out to transvestites in any Aware newsletter.

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