Acceptance of innate diversity the next challenge for S’poreans

HC_Cultural_Diversity

From MARK ANANRAJ VINCENT

This week, a Vatican synod on the family released a report that sent ripples throughout the world.

It called for greater inclusiveness of homosexuals and divorcees by the Catholic Church (“Vatican signals more tolerance towards gays and remarriage”; Oct 14).

Although drawn from a working document (and though the gathering is unlikely to change church doctrine), this general stance is to be welcomed. After all, sociocultural diversity forms the backbone of Singapore society.

If the Catholic Church, an organised religion with about 1.3 billion followers, can call for its priests to show greater acceptance, there is little reason we cannot respect the integrity and sanctity of every individual.

Instead of focusing parochially on a particular attribute, such as race, religion, physical or mental disability, gender preference, marital status or past criminal transgression, a greater perspective of the “gifts and qualities” of individuals may be appreciated.

Singapore has much to benefit from the key value of diversity being integrated seamlessly into our institutional regimes. Having its roots in deontology, the call of duty to observe the value of tolerance reduces divisiveness in society.

Mr Paul Jenkins, the United Kingdom government’s previous chief legal adviser, noted that society would benefit from having a utilitarian outlook on the imposition of policies that entrench inclusiveness.

While many Singaporeans have largely overcome superficial differences through a slew of multiracial policies, the next frontier lies ahead: The acceptance of innate diversity and celebration of a myriad of ideas, perspectives and orientations.

The Vatican report draws parallels to a familiar situation, where the Singapore Government has called for inclusiveness without a dogmatic adherence to and enforcement of Section 377A.

Putting aside our respective personal convictions, attempts must be made to understand what benefits society as a whole.

Tolerance and inclusiveness do not translate into a betrayal of one’s personal view, whatever it may be.

Perhaps, we may each take a leaf out of the Vatican’s book and contribute towards building a more gracious Singapore.

Article published in TODAY Oct 18, 2014: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/acceptance-innate-diversity-next-challenge-sporeans

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