26 October 2007

Non-repeal of 377A : Was it all a blunder?

The government hates having to wrestle with contentious issues, especially ones with religious undercurrents, yet it stumbled into a hot debate about Section 377A. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

>The government ... .stumbled. into a hot debate about Section 377A

really? stumbled into it? with the gays achieving the rare feat of mobilizing a sort of "mass" (by singapore standards) movement, supported by foreign journalists and academics, the government had no choice but to engage in a debate, a small one as far as the government's part is concerned (unless you assume it was behind all the anti-gay expressions we saw, but I see no evidence of this)

the debate was unusually big in politically placid Singapore, because the gays were encouraged by GCT's public statement that gays could now be appointed to sensitive posts in the public sector because they are no longer security risks; they were then incensed by repeated rejections when they applied for permits to organize major international gay activities; without this background, I doubt the matter would have blown up to the same extent

I believe GCT's statement was meant to be a narrow one, in answer to specific questions about some gay individuals who got appointed; it was however taken to be a broad change of attitude towards homosexuality, even a general opening up on all social and political issues; the refusal to repeal was just the message to tell people there was a serious misunderstanding


Anonymous said...

I was disappointed by the non-repeal, but I guess it's to be expected really.

Alan Wong said...

Of course it is a blunder!

Where else would you find a leader of a country who admits that a particular piece of legislation in his/her country is ambiquous and yet prefers not to do anything about it ? .... unless that particular country belongs to lawless regimes like Myammar, North Korea and to a certain extent ... China.

Again by doing so, he has made himself another laughing stock of the country!

I just wonder what the hell is the Mentoring Minister doing or is it a case of "buta gaji" i.e. getting a salary but without doing the job properly.

Anonymous said...

I note from previous essays, that you have eloquently argued why 377A is a redundant law (prior to the latest penal code review). I wonder if you are interested in doing some legal sleuthing.
Specifically, to find out why 377A was added to the penal code in the first place. According to wikipedia, 377 was added to the Indian penal code in 1862. The Straits Settlements inherited this code in 1871. 377A was amended inside in 1938.
I presume the greatest legal minds would have already realised the redundancy of such an addition. What were the legal arguments for 377A? What were the arguments against? Why did it specifically target men? Why limit to 2 years, when 377 limits it to 10 years?
Was gay activism already existent in 1938?
I don't think we should simply pooh-pooh it to the 'conservative thinking' of the days of yore. That would be committing 'chronological snobbery', as someone recently put it.

hugewhaleshark said...

Alex, I am very much interested in your analysis of the parliamentary speeches. The "gay son or daughter" argument is a powerful one for me, and I cannot see how I can accept such discrimination.

Actually I can imagine parents using the "the gahmen says it is illegal!" argument against their gay children. The fact that the government does not provide leadership against such discrimination is sad.

George said...

Is it possible the govt have these in mind:

1. opening the 'floodgates' for foreign homo, including prostitutes, to visit our shores

2. an exponential leap in HIV cases because of 1.)

3. losing votes from the 'hetero' quarters

4. the young, experimenting

Anonymous said...

The repeal of 377A was never an issue in the 1st place. The law is the weapon of choice for the PAP to keep the citizentry in place. Why should they remove a weapon which they could use later a-la-Anwar Ibrahim?

377A repeal was just like the Casino Act - no real debate! - just rammed down our collective throats. In the Casino Act, why weren't the Christians as vocal about gambling as they were regarding 377A? or were they fearful of govt reprisal. Or is it they are just religious homophobic bullies - taking on the weak & defenseless rather than the biggest bully - PAP! Are the Christians here behaving like Jesus Christ [saviour] or Pontius Pilate [status quo]?

Were the heartlanders really as concern about gay issues as stated in the mainstream media or they were more concern about basic issues like jobs, transportation costs & keeping their bellies satisfied? Did the grassroots really done their homework or was it a majority bogeyman created to justify the non-repeal of 377A? Their silence is deafening.

GCT & MM had followed Richard Florida's theory of the creative class to the letter including cultivating the gay talent class - why now the sudden reversal? When the rest of the world cultivates to attract the world's creative talents including the gay community to move ahead - Spore is taking a retroactive step. Ministers are paid million dollar salaries like corporate CEOs to take economic risks. Why are they not taking critical decisions rather than hiding behind anonymous or "non-existent" majority values to justify their non-decision. Are they justifying their huge salaries? Is Spore serious about attracting creative talents [irregardless of sexual orientation] or are we set to continually import low-level worker ants keeping wages low, reducing english proficiency further & exploiting foreign labor. The non-repeal of 377A simply confirms the latter.

At the end, power & money are just the 2 ingredients concerning Spore. Society will never progress beyond monetary consideration while power will remained vested with the existing order. Gambling is an economic decision irregardless of subsequent social costs as it will bring in the dough while social progress issues like 377A repeal contradicts the "divide & rule" philosophy of the ruling class.

Anonymous said...

Majority rules....talk, appeal, protest are all useless.....