15 October 2007

Straight thoughts on 377A

Sam, a university student, asks his friends to sign the petition to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code. Guest essay.


Anonymous said...

I wrote this some time ago; in my view, the mobilization of non-gays in singapore and foreign groups in support of the gay movement only makes the government more wary: it does not wish to been seen as giving in to pressure


Decriminalizing homosexuality is currently taking on the status of a litmas test in Singapore, between those who are pro-change and those who are pro-status quo. Because the laws crimininalizing homosexuality are not actually enforced, and because gays do not get bashed in public places by troubleseekers like they do in some western societies, the significance of the decriminalization is more political than legal. Especially among western journalists, the issue is taken as an indicator of "is Singapore really opening up?"; now that it has allowed both foreign universities and gambling casinos to be set up, what next?

In other words, not all the people promoting decriminalization of homosexuality are homosexuals. What is their motivation? Assuming they win this particular fight, what would they fight for next?

Anonymous said...

As far as the issues on 377A are concerned, I think Sam belongs to one of the rare breeds of Singaporeans who can really sense what should be the rightful and proper thing to do.

Given that he is straight and relatively young at age, his thoughts regarding an issue which does not concern him at the very least, has really put to shame many of our supposedly wise men with the power to control and change our lives.

If only the powers-in-charge has the same guts and conviction as him, Singapore would definitely be a better place.

I salute Sam for his courage to speak out for us on a matter that is of the least concern of his!!!

solvent_d said...

Well, there were some legitimate reasons. "It’s my religious belief, sorry." "I don’t support the idea, sorry." I just thanked them and apologised at the same time. These people had their beliefs, and clearly stated them. That was fine.

don't mean to be controversial about things, but rationally speaking, i think religious belief hardly constitutes a "legitimate reasons" in this case. the thought of any single religious group coming in the way of circumscribing the making of our laws is a preposterous one. you don't see our legal system putting an axe on the sale of pork or beef to assuage the belief of any particular group. (instead, we were simply taught to practise our own belief, while allowing others to practise theirs within reasonable limits.) in a similar vein, we also don't see the decriminalisation of polygamy based on the religious rights of various people.

if the law were one day to criminalise--for argument sake--the sale of meat, an unbiased me will not say, "oh you know, i'm not going to make noise about it because i'm staunch buddhist." hell, i am going to make so much noise because my religious belief does not alleviate an injustice that is painfully evident.

to extend this argument, it's also certainly not enough to just say that we are--loosely quoting someone earlier--a secular but non-atheist state, therefore right in considering the views of religious groups in our laws. where does the buck stop in that? is the atheist going to constantly pay for everytime the sale of pork, beef, or non-kosher food is banned? shouldn't we value something beyond an individual's personal belief, on which we may base our common system?

oh wait, i think we might have it! "justice and equality" right? and what was its preceding expression? "regardless of race, language or religion"?

granted it was written a long time ago when faith had such a big influence on the making of laws in England, S377A simply doesn't go in-sync with our pledged ethos.

other than this minor point, i have nothing but admiration towards Sam for his efforts in trying to get his peers to sign the petition. if only we had enlightened people like him running the country instead.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you all, gays and nongays, would be encouraged to hear what LKY has to say:

"I do not measure myself by the yardsticks of Amnesty International or Freedom House or Reporters Without Frontiers. I measure myself by the objectives of governance of my people. What must the government do? It must establish a system where there is peace, stability and opportunities for everybody to live a full life, which means good health, good housing, good jobs, good education, good hospitals.

"There is nothing which you want to read that you cannot read in Singapore. Everybody is on the Internet, everybody has got broadband, you have got cable television, access to all the information, you can blog, you can do anything you like."

From CNA

Wolfgang said...

A beautiful piece, thanks Sam.

It seems to be that the only people who usually help and who knows the pain of discrimination are the ones that have been discriminated against one way or another. Be it in skin colour, jobs, parents, money, etc.

Most Singaporeans being Chinese and heterosexual would never feel the sting of discrimination, that is our society.

It takes a very strong person to stand up for injustices when they see it, even though it doesn't involve them at all.

It also takes a very weak person to let their "fears" of "what-ifs" to take over them.

Anonymous said...

solvent_d said... in a similar vein, we also don't see the decriminalisation of polygamy based on the religious rights of various people.

Polygamy IS allowed in singapore for Muslims. Given that, the Christian right in Singapore can't echo the fav reason used by their US counterparts to say that gay unions will cause polygamy because it is already so.

solvent_d said...

anon @ 16 1158 0ct 07:

oops, my bad. and tks for the correction; i always thought my friend was kidding when he told me about it.

but i think it isn't that suitable an angle to take in using Muslim Law Act to counter the argument that legally-binding gay unions promote polygamy, unless tongue-in-cheek. i can't quite recall the arguments put up by the american christian rights based on the promotion of polygamy--probably because they were too illogical to remember, but instinctively my argument is for them to prove that a gay union between two consensual adults promotes polygamy.

Charles said...

I am moved to know that Sam is doing what he can. History is rife with examples of how people who does not belong to a certain minority has also chosen to fight for the rights of the minorities.

The fight for gender equality, abolishing slavery, and civil rights movement in America comes to mind. Even in the fight for AIDS advocacy in the US, women played a significant part when their gay male counterparts begin to suffer or passed away due to the disease.

Teck Soon said...

On the SDP website it reports of a Rule-of-law session at the IBA conference in Singapore that is open to the public. Since Section 377A represents a law that will remain on the books but will not be enforced, it is a prime example of how rule-of-law is not functioning in Singapore. I hope that someone who is able to attend (and can pay the registration fee of S$180) will bring it up.

A country purportedly governed by the rule of law cannot have such blatant pick-and-choose-to-suit enforcement procedure for its laws.

Anonymous said...

>I hope that someone who is able to attend (and can pay the registration fee of S$180) will bring it up.

this in an uncanny way captures the essence of Singapore politics: money drives everything, both to get capable people to join the "system", and to prevent anyone outside the "system" to oppose it effectively