SINGAPORE, June 17 — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said today that it has amended a graphic on its Facebook page to "avoid misunderstanding" after some people suggested the original resembled a same-sex couple.
The two-panelled graphic was posted on May 14 showing two parents drying their laundry on bamboo poles at the age of 29, then doing so on a new retractable rack aged 65.
It was meant to promote awareness that flat owners going through the Home Improvement Programme can look forward to the new retractable clothes drying racks.
The racks are designed to allow HDB residents to hang their wet laundry at their windows in a safer and less tiring way compared with using bamboo poles.
Comments on the post initially centred around the new drying racks. But yesterday, the conversation shifted and some people began suggesting that the parents both looked like women.
“Hello... Why parents (sic) both female! Sick!!” user Maria Din wrote, accompanied with a vomiting and a devil-faced emoji.
Anti-vaccine campaigner Iris Koh chimed in, questioning whether women are now allowed to get married to one another and buy a flat.
The founder of controversial anti-vaccine group Healing the Divide later posted on her own Facebook page: “Don't get me wrong, I'm not against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) stuff, after all, I have many friends who are gay etc... Seems very Americanised to me. Are we being infiltrated by liberal ideals covertly?”
Five hours after her post, at about 8pm, the HDB replaced one character in the graphic with one that had shorter hair, apparently to confirm that it was the male.
Today, in response to TODAY’s queries, HDB said: “HDB's graphics depicting a husband and wife drying their laundry was intended to highlight the convenience of the retractable clothes drying rack, especially for senior residents.”
It added: “Arising from feedback, we improved the graphics to avoid misunderstanding surrounding the characters featured in the graphic.” The spokesperson did not specify the nature of the misunderstanding.
After HDB altered its graphic, some users on Twitter expressed consternation at what they saw as the statutory board bowing to pressure from “homophobes”.
“It just took ONE homophobic response. The lack of spine is mind blowing,” wrote user Peter Lin.
Ms Koh, meanwhile, clarified on Facebook following HDB’s alteration that she was “not against LGBT” but against “inconsistency and hypocrisy”.
“If you wish to feature two moms or two dads like those Disney shows in future, please repeal Section 377A first,” she wrote, referring to a section in the Penal Code which criminalises sex between men.
Ms Koh was apparently referring to the recently-released Disney-Pixar animated film Lightyear, which earned an NC16 rating from the Infocomm Media Development Authority for its depiction of a same-sex lifestyle. — TODAY