Bishop Takes Nuanced Stance On Seksualiti Merdeka

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing has expressed regret over the police ban of Seksualiti Merdeka workshop, saying it was another reflection of the manacles the powers-that-be wanted the Malaysia mind to be confined within.

However, he held forth on his misgivings on the controversial event, which is to be held in Kuala Lumpur from Nov 9 to 13.

The bishop urged Seksualiti Merdeka organisers “a wise circumspection so that the emerging national consensus on human rights that was so painstakingly gained will not be imperiled by an overlay of rights considered repugnant in certain religious traditions.”

“We must be aware and must lament, let me go further and say, we must strive to prevent the mistreatment of gays, lesbians, transgender and transvestites in our society,” said the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese.

“Mistreatment of people of unconventional sexual orientation flies against the dignity of the human person respect for which is the essence of human rights,” expatiated the Jesuit-trained prelate who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia.

However, Bishop Paul Tan said he felt constrained to caution campaigners against the mistreatment of people with an unconventional sexual orientation about pushing their stance to the extent it paves the way for the legitimatisation of ‘queer’ behaviour.

“A wise circumspection is needed when importing the western human rights agenda lock, stock and barrel into our context,” he opined.

“There has emerged in our society a broad consensus transcending race and religion on issues of human rights - on their urgency, legitimacy and desirability,” he added.

“This consensus was long in the making and was painstakingly gained. For this reason, nothing ought to be done that would imperil this consensus arriving at its culmination in a more just and equitable Malaysia,” he elaborated.

‘Overblown’ Concern

Bishop Paul Tan said he feared that initiatives such as Seksualiti Merdeka would split the emerging national consensus on human rights which he said, if it comes to that, would be “tragic.”

“Not infrequently, in history, societies on the verge of urgent and necessitous change have digressed from their main focus to allow its reformist zeal to dissipate in diversionary channels.

“The upshot was a dilution of the main thrust of the reformist wave with consequent loss of its essence and its promise of a new dispensation for the people,” mused the prelate.

He described as “overblown” concern for the rights of those of unconventional sexual orientation when the “very first right of human beings is the right of the unborn to life and that right is not given its due weight in the Western hierarchy of human rights.”

“Rather,” he said, “it is said the right to abortion is recognised as a matter pertaining to a woman’s privacy and authority over her own body.

“Pray, what has all this got to do with Seksualiti Merdeka?” mused the bishop.

“You take that inventive genius who died recently, Steve Jobs. He was the unintended issue of an unmarried couple of limited means. Had he been born, say, 10 years later than his birth in 1955, he would have been a prime candidate for abortion which would have been state-assisted.

“I bring this up to argue the point that we ought to be wary about the unrigorous philosophical selectivity that characterises the concept of human rights in the West.

“Don’t import all of it - lock, stock and barrel,” advised Bishop Paul Tan.

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