25 September 2006

What we've yet to see, hear or speak of

In Hong Kong, unequal age of consent was declared discriminatory and unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal. In India, an open letter is issued to Members of Parliament to repeal the law against "unnatural sex". Full essay.

22 comments:

feeblechicken said...

This is quite besides the main issue but about the education in sg. I was born in 1979 and the funny thing is I don't think I learnt about the big bang from school. It seemed to have come from other sources like my father telling me about it or reading it from a book other than my textbooks. I am not sure. Perhaps someone can point out if our education system does support the big bang theory?

Hermes said...

Actually, I'm a bit skeptical about that particular ruling in Hongkong - the justice department has never seen eye-to-eye with the HK government over a lot of issues. Gay rights just happened to be news-worthy enough for it to be publicized.

Is Hongkong ready for homosexuals? Personally, I'm afraid not. But I'm looking forward to the day when we will have a pride parade down Nathan road.

Despite what the group says, sodomy is really an unnatural act anatomically speaking. So, do wear protection.

Teck Soon said...

I wonder what would happen if a brave group of gays in Singapore publicly "confessed" to breaking sections 377 and 377A of the penal code, stated so on their websites, turned themselves over to the police as having committed a seizable offense multiple times with a written and signed "confession" in hand, and publicly demanded to be prosecuted.

This courageous behavior would show that Singapore is not a country governed by Rule of Law.

Hermes said...

What Mr. Teck Soon said.

(Sorry, I could not resist.)

What use would that courageous behaviour outside of the internet do if it were never broadcasted?

Prison got no broadband (I quote).

You get an ego boost but do you further your cause?

Oh, I was reading this amusing weblog by this webgay person. The person says gay people are not good at logical thinking (i.e no rationale) and are all "air no substance" because homosexuals cannot engage with others mentally so must resort to sex.

By webgay's thinking, homosexuals should do exactly what Mr. Teck Soon said.

Bummer, not many homos doing it. Most probably every homo is busy partying.

(Apologies to Alex if that last few paragraphs have no relevance to his blog)

Anonymous said...

Hermes said...
Is Hongkong ready for homosexuals? Personally, I'm afraid not. But I'm looking forward to the day when we will have a pride parade down Nathan road.

HK has had 2 gay marches or more specifically International Day Against Homophobia at the busy Causeway Bay in 05/06. (Can IDAHO be considered a pride parade or must there be people in leather and/or obscene outfits flashing their privates on the streets? Personally, I rather not.) Also, I'm not sure if having a pride parade is the only barometer to measure whether or not a society is ready to accept gays.

jaclyn said...

hermes - heterosexuals should also use condoms. furthermore, i think it's unpardonable to say "homo".

Anonymous said...

Looking at how HK Law has been challenged, does it mean that it's about high time that someone should take the lead to challenge the S'pore court to have the Penal Code 377 repealed.

Teck Soon said...

Civil disobedience can sometimes influence public opinion. Hermes, from your post about my scenario, if I understand you correctly, you believe that if some gays demanded to be prosecuted after confessing to having broken Section 377, they would be prosecuted and no one would pay much attention in broader society because "prison got no broadband".

I actually think that there would be no prosecution, but the police would be in a difficult position of having to ignore bahavior openly defiant of laws. I am not necessarily advocating this behavior because civil disobedience as practiced by the SDP has not proven particularly successful either, but I am curious about what would happen. I would greatly appreciate other opinions from Singaporeans over how such a scenario would likely play out.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Teck Soon,

The decision by the HK courts was based on a reading of the Basic Law (constitution) of HK. This Basic Law is as clear as day when it comes to fundamental human rights, including equality. The Basic Law also states that HK law must comply with the UN's International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, to which HK and China are signatories.

A similar case in Singapore would meet with the fact that our constitution is full of "ifs and buts" when it comes to civil rights. It can be interpreted in any way depending on the prevailing wind. Nor is Singapore a signatory of the ICCPR.

Furthermore, the HK judiciary has a reputation for independence and fairness that the Singapore judiciary can look up to when it comes to "sensitive" cases. An assoc prof from the law faculty once told me that in 4 decades of independence, there has not been a single instance of the Singapore judiciary overturning any law on constitutional grounds.

You still wonder what would happen if a similar case took place in Singapore?

keanbon said...

If the 'rule of law' is as malleable as what YB says, I supposed the prosecution will materialize.

And hermes, I don't quite understand what you meant by "an unnatural act anatomically speaking". What is 'natural' then? The penis and the vagina?

Anonymous said...

I feel that teck soon tends to be rather biased and extreme in his comments, not just for this article, but for a few others as well. His sarcasm at times may put readers off, even though his point may be valid. Perhaps he should take a more objective and simpler approach.

But then again, it may just be me. I appreciate teck soon's efforts to voice his opinions and I admit that I do learn from his comments at times. If readers are indeed fine with his style and approach, then I apologise with humility.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I just wanted to make a comment that I feel is abit bias against Christians. I do not believe it is just "... Christians that they are so obsessed with their homophobia?" I think most mainstream religions (i.e. Islam...)are like that too. Anyway, I grew up in a Christian family and was taught that homosexuality and the act of sodomy were sins. Of course, those are not the only things we were thought that were sins. For example, we were also taught that pre-marital sex was a sin. So the point I want to make is, what Christians might consider a sin is not just targeted at the homosexuals but also at hetereosexuals (cos hetereosexuals do engage in pre-marital sex and probably also anal sex). Christians are also against abortion so that targets feminists who are pro-choice. I'm not trying to promote hate against Christians but trying to make a point that basically homosexuals are not getting preferential treatment when it comes to being targets about sin and the works. Anyway, from a person who grew up in a Christian enviroment, I must say that it is very hard to be one. We are also taught to love the sinner despite of the sin. But relationships with gay friends always suffer because even though I treat them no differently from my straight friends, they know that I have been taught and carry the belief that homosexuality is a sin and in that respect I see them as sinners. But they fail to realise that in Christian terms, I see myself as a sinner too and in no way was trying to brand them or be self-righteous. We are also taught to love our neighbours and respect their choices and not to judge them. It is hard balancing all these things. More often than not, I do feel people as a whole (especially those practising religion of any sort) do tend to miss the balance and try to be enforcers of the law and go down the road of being judges and forgetting that the most important commandment that God gave us was to love our fellow humans and with love comes the respect of their choices and the protection of that right to choose. But those who think like that are caught straddling the fence, and as everyone knows, if you sit on the fence like that, your balls will hurt. If you advocate balance, the Christians call us tolerant of sin and no different from the sinner, but the gay friends say we are no different cos we still see it as a sin.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

It is not important to me what Christian teaching is. It matters to me what Christians do or fail to do. What matters to me is that some people who purport to be Christian go out of their way to stoke discrimination, legal, social, educational, against me. Then it becomes very much MY business.

I am well aware there are plenty of Christians who think as you do, who advocate "balance" and do not actively engage in a politicised campaign to discriminate against me, but I still hold them responsible to an extent on 2 counts:

1. They still agree that homosexuality is a Christian "sin", and thereby provide justification for their more strident fellow religionists to carry out their hate campaign against me.

2. They keep quiet within their churches and never speak out against the politicised hate campaign. They let them represent Christianity, and therefore I can validly say that it is a Christian campaign against me.

This is similar to the argument that unless ordinary Muslims speak up against Islamist violence and terrorism, it is too much to expect that others will not hold prejudices against their religion as a whole.

What would you say to the peaceful-loving Muslims who nonetheless agree that philosophically, it is right and proper to consider non-Muslims as less worthy humans even if they themselves don't think killing is right. How is that different from Christians who claim to be non-discriminatory towards gays and lesbians but who nonetheless agree that homosexuals are "sinners".

Jordan said...

'Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.
-Francois Marie Arouet "Voltaire", French author and playwright '

That is one of many quotes for those who find RELIGION suffocating and mind controlling.

'HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong's government lost an appeal against a landmark ruling which struck down a law saying gay men under the age of 21 should be jailed for life for acts of sodomy.
The three judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a ruling issued last year that a higher age of consent for homosexuals than for heterosexuals and lesbians was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Heterosexuals and lesbians face a maximum of five years in jail if they have sex before the age of 16, but homosexuals who have sex before they are 21 risk life in prison.
"I fail to see on any basis the justification of this age limit," Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Ma wrote in his judgement.
"No evidence has been placed before us to explain why the minimum age requirement for buggery is 21 whereas as far as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is concerned, the age of consent is only 16," he said.
Ma said the current law "does not justify in any way" life imprisonment and added that there was sufficient cause for a judicial review of the law.
The case was originally brought by 21-year-old homosexual William Roy Leung. On holiday in Japan, he hailed the decision in a city that only decriminalized homosexuality in 1991.
"This is a victory not only for me and the gay community in Hong Kong, it is a victory for all of us in Hong Kong, gay and straight alike who all have fundamental human rights that the courts here have shown us they are prepared to uphold," he said in a statement read out by his lawyer Michael Vidler.
Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines all have equal ages of consent.,
He said the judgement means the law, as it applied to gay sex, was unenforceable and the next step would be for the administration to introduce legislation to remove the provision from the statute book.'-APF

This landmark case was not covered by our own Government.

Any positive issues relating to gays and Singapore is irrelevant to our own justice system. Singaporean hetros have no civil and human rights, how does one expect Singaporean gays to even have one?
We are the exisitng 'non-existing group' in Singapore. The less educated all Singaporeans are the better it is for the govt.
The mushroom syndrome applies to all Singaporeans living in Singapore. Nothing noteworthy is covered in any of the authoritarian controlled print rags in Singapore.
Everyone's mind has to be controlled Singapore.
The majority of Singaporeans do not know what the rest of the world is up to, good or bad.
It is all a game of mind-control.
For the intelligent group of Singaporeans, this is highly frustrating, and the rest? What they don't know, would not hurt them.
For the Singapore Govt, it is 'a numbers game'.
The fact still remains that gays and lesbians exist. Singapore just does not wish to highlight or give publicity on it.
It is all about mind control!

Jordan said...

To 'feeblechicken'- your feedback is proof of our Singapore educational system. 'Ssssh...don't make Singaporeans think' is the theme.
To 'hermes'- The point is the legal issue was printed, and gay haters don't have to read it.
to 'teck soon'- In Singapore, everyone would be quietly hauled away, n no press coverage.
To Alex- I have an issue with religion. I don't enjoy having my mind being controlled.
Gay parades in Singapore?- never say 'never'.

Tim said...

YB could not get the permit for an open air arts festival going in Singapore, I am not surprised that the newspapers did not cover this landmark HK case. And with YB's research quote:

'At the 1993 United Nations World Human Rights Conference in Vienna, our then-Foreign Minister Wong Kan Seng said, "Homosexual rights are a Western issue, and are not relevant to this conference."

That statement was made in 1993. It is 2006 now, 13 years ago...Singapore has come a long way with gays and gay life, even tho' its legislative laws may state otherwise.
There will always be this 800 lb gorrilla in the Singapore city-state living room, and it is not going to go away.
Seeking Legislation for gay rights is not going to happen in the immediate future.
Perhaps the thinking of the Singapore politicians is not to have Singapore= Gay Life, vis-a-vis Thailand= SEX?
Unless the political stance changes, by having open gays in high level positions their administration and media outlets, that might be an opportunity for gays in Singapore?
The current administration is very concerned with its image, and the rainbow theme is not part of their present agenda, judicial, or social participation.
Singapore has gay hangouts, and everyone knows that gays do have 'deep pockets'.
Singapore is not ready to openly embrace the gay percent of the Singapore population. Maybe change will come later rather than sooner?

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am not sure if the example you used regarding Muslims can be used as a perfect parallel with regards to the argument about Christians. The reason why I say this is because while the Muslim may feel non-Muslims are less worthy humans and see themselves as worthy humans, the Christians that I refer to that are advocating balance in doctrine and practise see homosexuals as sinners as well as see themselves as sinners too. So while the Muslim claims superiority over non-Muslims, such Christians do not see any superiority. To such Chrisitans, we see all of the human race as sinners the only difference is the sin. And in this regard there is also no ranking for sin. All sins are equal. So to me, in that sense while I believe homosexuality goes against God's will, I also believe that those who incite hatred against homosexuals are also sinning. I do not believe that there is ever any reason to incite hatred against any group. I know having said this, the GLBT people will probably use it as justification to hold it against the Christians who want to advocate balance. But I hope you understand and appreciate the difference I'm trying to highlight. I say this because as much as it is impossible to change a gay to be straight, it is similarly impossible to change a person who has faith in a religion from going against doctrine. Of course, it can be argued that doctrine should be changed. But how can that be when to us the doctrine we learn is from God. Here, I presume there will be sniggers at the back. But like how a member of the GLBT will hold that there is irrefutable proof that homosexuality is a result of nature, likewise to us there is irrefutable proof by theologians and historians of the Bible and the content it holds. I feel that secular people tend to look at Christians as mindless followers and not realise that some of us do apply reason and logic to understand, justify and defend our faith (i.e. like what the Pope just talked about) and we are not just following some booming voice from the sky. Also, I would like to point out that religion is not just an institution but should be regarded as engaging in a friendship/relationship with God for some of us. I however do agree with your second point. I believe that the Christians who do advocate balance are usually silent and in this, because of our inaction we cannot deny our complicity in the injustice that the GLBTs are facing. Actually, Christians too have been persecuted in history because of the faith and it is ironic/sad that we forget what we once suffered. I believe it is in human nature to forget. The unreasonable boss forgets what it is like to be a slaving worker, the father what it is like to be a son... On the way home, I was musing about a situation where the GLBTs were the majority and couldn't help but feel then, the heterosexuals would be persecuted. I say this not cause I am against GLBTs, but lamenting the state of the human condition. We tend to forget, guard our prejudices jealously and when we can exercise that prejudice, we tend to do so. Anyway, back to your second point. I agree. The Christians I talk about do need to be more exertive and stand up for the other qualities of our faith, which is to love our neighbours, respect them and defend their rights as humans beings and also children of God irregardless of our differences and never be judgemental. I hope you will forgive us when we do fail as we are imperfect and continue to remind us that our faith is more than just pointing a wagging finger at someone else and in Singapore's case a cane and continue to encourage with your writings for the rest of us to learn to speak up and defend the right to choose as long as it never encroaches on the rights of another. On a personal note, I am reframing my mind with regards to certain issues from the posts you have made. I have grown up with a utilitarian principle governing my perspective and I am trying to grasp a lot of issues with new perspectives. To Jordan, I feel that your comment about Christianity is prejudiced. Please do not paint all Christian with one stroke of a big brush.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I just thought of something where gays actually do benefit in Singapoer. NS. Apparently if you declare you are a gay, you will get posted to an easier unit like to be a clerk or in the Music and Dance company. So, should gays also do national service as comabt people? Actually I don't know why the government differentiate. I mean gays also can be garung what....

Jordan said...

To Anonymous 27 September, 2006 13:09:
I like the option of the "Don't ask Don't tell'policy.
The life and lifestyle I choose is my right and perogative, and I have options and the choice if I wish to release personal information if I want to, and this applies even to conscription.
Isn't that what Life is about? Choices and Options?

Anonymous said...

This is intended for the last two anonymous posting.

First of all, Islam does not see non-Muslims as inferior to them. There is never any scriptures in the Quran that says so. Nevertheless non-Muslims are identified as non-believers, or an extreme word to use is infidel. I say extreme because it is used when describing or narrating a terrible incident in Islamic history. It is never used to describe non Muslims. Often Muslims are advised to treat believers and non- believers the same, in fact, its really important to treat the non believers fairly and in a just manner. Why, because thats when the non believers will be "enlightened" by the religion.

As for homosexuality, well, I cant say much as there is no specific writings that condemn it in Islam.

However, in both above mentioned situations, uncultured, and uneducated Muslims tend to follow a populist understanding of the faith and adopt a hawkish attitude. Although this is widely practiced in the Muslim world, it is wrong!

So please do not generalise Muslims or Islam just like how you wished Jordan to not generalise all Christians.

And finally, are you guys aware that if you declare whilst in the army and in some cases before you enlist, if you are deemed PES A or B. you will still be posted in a combat unit. And your vocation would not just be a clerk or a senang job. i know because one "man" from the battalion declared but remained a combat fit soldier throughout his NS duties.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person who clarified about Muslim view on non-Muslims. I apologise for making the comment that Muslims saw non-Muslims as inferior.

To be honest, I am not really sure of their stand but I made the comment in reference to the example that Alex used in his last comment on this page which stated that "What would you say to the peaceful-loving Muslims who nonetheless agree that philosophically, it is right and proper to consider non-Muslims as less worthy humans even if they themselves don't think killing is right."

I am glad that we all can learn something about our neighbours through this discussion. Anyway,I'm confused....you said that "Nevertheless non-Muslims are identified as non-believers, or an extreme word to use is infidel" but then later on said that "It is never used to describe non Muslims." So what does an "infidel" mean to a Muslim? Please clarify on this. Thanks.

To Jordan, I never said that life isn't about choices and options. I was just commenting that for NS, if you choose to declare yourself a gay, you actually might get some benefits (depending on your view of National Service).

Jordan said...

To Anonymous28 September, 2006 08:50;
We are veerring off the topic, but the NS issue is an excellent one.
What if the gay man is a 'white knight'?
What are the chances of believing in the 'rules n regulations' of the Singapore Govt re: NS/Gays/desk jobs/gay bashing?
Survival and self-preservation is the name of the game for all. Every cause has an effect. We live in a real world, where there are people who do not condone our lifestyles. There are many factors that get meshed together. How sure is anyone when they transfer their 'life' into someone else's hand, and one has no control? A dead NS man costs the Singapore Govt Sing$3,000/=...a cheap price for a human life, gay or otherwise.