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Catholic Church urges constructive dialogue over HPB's sexuality advisory

The Roman Catholic Church in Singapore has urged constructive dialogue over the Health Promotion Board's FAQs, which have stirred up opposing views since its publication last November.

SINGAPORE: A day after the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) called on the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to review its online sexuality advisory, the Roman Catholic Church in Singapore has weighed in, urging constructive dialogue over the FAQs, which have stirred up opposing views since its publication last November.

A statement from the Office of the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore issued on Thursday - its first response on the issue - said that the Catholic Church advocates "sensitive, love and compassion for all regardless of one's sexual orientation", even as it maintained that "sexual acts outside of a heterosexual nature is not in accordance with the laws of creation".

"We believe that the best way forward is for all to engage in constructive dialogue in a spirit of patient understanding, mutual respect and compassion, working towards the promotion of justice and dignity of the individual and for the greater good of society and the future of humanity," the statement read.

The FAQs have drawn controversy over how it addressed homosexuality, with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups applauding the approach taken while others have spoken against it, saying it undermined the importance of the traditional family unit.

The Singapore Islamic Scholars & Religious Teachers Association, Faith Community Baptist Church Pastor Lawrence Khong and Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC Lim Biow Chuan are among those who have publicly criticised the FAQs.

An online petition calling for a review of the FAQs has also been making its rounds through social media.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question published on February 17, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the FAQs do not encourage same-sex relationships but are meant to provide advice on mental and physical health issues to young people and their parents from a public health perspective.

He also reiterated that there was no shift in the government's policy in that the family is the basic building block of Singapore society, and in encouraging heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships.

In a statement issued on February 19, the NCCS joined in the call for a review of the FAQs, expressing concern that the FAQs "claim to serve as a resource for 'factual information' on sexuality when scientific research on the causes and consequences on homosexuality is at best inconclusive".

The Catholic Church also said on Thursday that it has informed the authorities of its concerns, adding it was heartened that the government's position on families - comprising of heterosexual couples with children - has not changed.

In response to media queries, the HPB reiterated that it will continue to take into consideration the relevant inputs it has received "to see how we could further improve in our communications as well as better reach out to Singaporeans in our health promotion educational materials".

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