06 December 2005

Look Who's Getting Married!

None other than Elton John himself. I used to love his music back in my younger days (oh yes, that was quite some time ago). Nowadays Elton has gone pretty crappy, singing dumb songs for cartoons like "The Lion King", but there was a time when Elton was really, really cool and successfully combined his vocal artistry with powerful songwriting.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about is Elton's wedding. Gee, a gay wedding. Here's a news report:
Eight months after the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles married at Windsor's Guildhall, the venue will witness another high profile union - the gay "wedding" between Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

Sir Elton and Mr Furnish yesterday joined hundreds of other same-sex couples across the country by officially registering their civil partnership ceremony on the first available date.

The formal notice announcing the event, which will be held on Dec 21 after a mandatory 15-day waiting period, was put on public display at Maidenhead Town Hall in Berkshire.

The couple listed their address as Windsor and Maidenhead alongside their dates of birth and a description of their occupations, musician and filmmaker.
What's all this about? Well, the Civil Partnership Bill just came into effect in the UK. Read more about it here. Essentially, civil partnerships are legally recognised unions between two people of the same sex. Couples who enter into such partnerships are granted almost all the same legal rights as married couples. Like marriages, they can only be dissolved by a court.

Well, now. Isn't that nice? I kinda think that if society chooses to create and recognise an institution like a "civil partnership", then among other things, it helps to provide some kind of structure to gay relationships. That in turn may encourage gays to stay in a committed relationship (much as the institution of a heterosexual marriage encourages husband and wife to stay faithful to each other). In turn the AIDS problem amaong gays would probably lessen (note that Mr Wang is NOT saying that AIDS is an exclusively gay problem - of course it is not).

Speaking of gays and AIDS, the Straits Times has a remarkably lousy article today. It is so ambiguous that if I were the editor, I wouldn't have published the article. Instead I would've told the journalist - "No, no. You gotta do more homework. Go back to the relevant people, ask more questions, get more information, get clearer answers. What you have here is just not good enough to be printed. It's a non-story."

Of course, we can't seriously expect the Straits Times to share Mr Wang's high standards. So instead we get a lousy piece of reporting like this:

Dec 6, 2005
1 in 25 gay men here may have HIV

ABOUT one in 25 gay men in Singapore is HIV-positive, said Dr Balaji Sadasivan yesterday. Researchers came to that conclusion based on the data gleaned from the anonymous human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing clinic at Kelantan Lane.

However, the Senior Minister of State for Health was quick to point out that the data used to come up with the figure is far from perfect.

Dr Balaji explained: 'There are many, many questions about this data.

'Is this representative of all gays? Or is it representative of a sample of gays? We can't answer this question unless we do more detailed studies which may invade into people's privacy.'

Action for Aids (AFA), a non-governmental organisation which runs the anonymous testing clinic, also has no idea how accurate the figure cited by Dr Balaji may be.

AFA's programme manager Abdul Hamid Hassan said the figure could be an overestimate, or an underestimate.


As I read this article, many questions pop up in my mind. Let's take a look. Balaji tells us that 1 in 25 gay men in Singapore has AIDS. We are told that this is the "conclusion" of researchers at the Kelantan testing clinic. However, Action for AIDS, which itself runs the clinic, then says that it has "no idea" how accurate Balaji's figure is. And the Straits Times tells nothing about what kind of research was done, or how the figure was derived.

What kind of reporting is this? The Straits Times might as well report that in Mr Wang's view, approximately 3 in 2,775 gay men in Singapore have AIDS. Mr Wang arrived at this opinion using his amazing extrasensory powers of perception and other methods of special research which shall not be reported. Mr Wang then explained: "There are many, many questions about this figure. Is this representative of all gays? Or is it representative of a sample of gays? I can't answer this question unless I use my extrasensory perception and special research methods a few more times." And then Action for AIDS could say, "We have no idea how accurate the figure cited by Mr Wang may be. Our programme manager Abdul Hamid Hassan feels that Mr Wang's figure could be an overestimate, or an underestimate."

Fat lot of good such an article would be.

4 comments:

chrischoo said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly Mr Wang. It's absurd to arrive at a "conclusion" when the very people who run the clinic say that the "results" are inconclusive. It's quite obvious that a certain doctor has an irrational aversion towards gays. I don't support the gay movement myself, but seriously these half-baked statistics are ridiculous!

I think the main reason it was published was because government figures are normally considered authoritative sources. Hence, although they may sometimes provide very flawed information, their views are reported anyway because of their status in society.

That's why you can't pull off your own statistics trick - because you're not an MP, Minister, PM, Perm Sec etc. :)

quetelet said...

Just how many gay men do we have? Are we simply counting from NS declarations of sexual orientation?

カイ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Agagooga said...

Well, at least they wrote that there were reservations about the figures.