I read with concern the reports on IKEA Singapore’s decision to continue its tie-up with a magic show performed by Pastor Lawrence Khong.
I believe IKEA’s explanation that it respects diversity, equality and the right to opinion has not seriously considered the fact that Mr Khong has been vocal against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
I respect the fact that there are safe platforms in Singapore for people such as Mr Khong to express their opinions. However, I cannot endorse the nature and intention of his views because they are harmful, discriminatory and demeaning to sexual minorities, some among whom I consider my friends.
IKEA’s decision here appears to be different from its global stand that the company welcomes all families and is LGBT affirming, as stated in its sustainability report last year. Also, IKEA Singapore should understand that the right to opinion comes with the responsibility to observe that the expression of that opinion does not come at the expense of the rights and welfare of others.
We should especially consider that principle in a case such as this, when we have an influential religious leader with a noted history of publicly discriminatory speech against sexual minorities.
The views advanced by leaders in socio-religious communities have implications on social perceptions and policies, and this, in turn, continues to systematically disadvantage sexual minorities and non-heterocentric families.
The magic show that Mr Khong headlines deserves support only from businesses that share those views. In supporting the magic show, I see IKEA Singapore as supporting not only Mr Khong, but also his views. My family and I hope IKEA Singapore will carefully consider its position on similar matters involving such individuals in the future.
Ho Chi Sam
*Comment was featured in Voices, Today, 23 Apr 2015