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Regional

Published: Sunday March 2, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday March 2, 2014 MYT 8:10:32 AM

Professor's comment on gays sparks angry protest

A Malay Studies academic at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has drawn protests for referring to lesbianism as “cancers” and “diseases”, sparking concern from the university.

Associate Professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (pic) from the NUS Department of Malay Studies had posted a note on his Facebook page last week to outline his take on liberal Islam, which, he noted, is now supporting the lesbian movement.

Urging scholars and religious teachers to speak up against progressive Islam ideologies and practices like lesbianism, Dr Khairudin said parents and school teachers “must detect early signs of waywardness from their children and students”.

“All social diseases must end at home, if not, in schools ... Together, we will stop these cancers in their tracks,” he said.

His comments drew fire from three past and present NUS students, who posted a letter of protest on Facebook on Thursday. Dr Khairudin’s note reflected “hostility towards sexual minorities, and which we believe is unbecoming of a university professor”, they said.

The trio, political science graduate student Benjamin Seet, political science and philosophy undergraduate Khairulanwar Zaini and former NUS law student Melissa Tsang, took issue with Dr Khairudin for using words like “cancers” and called these “tantamount to hate speech”.

They called for him to withdraw his statements, apologise and to go for counselling to gain an understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

They also had more than 150 signatures in support of their actions as of Friday afternoon.

The Straits Times understands that the letter writers will meet faculty members from the NUS arts faculty tomorrow.

Dr Khairudin had also amended his post to remove the offending words by Thursday afternoon.

A NUS spokesman said it is reaching out to the letter writers and Dr Khairudin “to better understand the concerns and to help address the issues at hand”.

“We appreciate that there will always be a diversity of perspectives surrounding issues that are complex and multifaceted.

“We hope that such conversations will remain respectful and sensitive at all times,” she added.

The controversy comes amidst an ongoing debate over a sexuality advisory posted online by the Health Promotion Board, which has drawn flak from several religious groups for seemingly normalising gay relationships. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Regional, NUS prof s comments on lesbians spark protests from past and present students

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