Section 377A of our penal code states:
Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.
With the recent commotion surrounding the issue of repealing S377A, and all the websites sprouting up to propound their manifesto, even I have found it hard to suppress my take on this.
I will be upfront about my view. I cannot rise to support this repeal.
First, let me clarify that I am not homophobic. One could say I am nonchalant. But I am an advocater of rights. Everyone should have their rights, yes, even gays or lesbians. Therefore, I have never ever been intolerant of their presence in society. I just do not see the need to remove this law from our legislation.
My concern, though, is with the unfairness of this stated law. The fact that it only applies to males is a double standard in itself. Why are females exempted from this? I am tempted to think this is due to a mysterious male intolerance of gays and gay behaviour. (It doesn’t help that somehow many guys have this thing about lesbianism.)
It may seem senseless to some that the government would claim to abide by the blatant inconsistency that they do not actually prosecute offenders under this law, but this is really the reason behind my contest for the retainment of this law. Admittedly, as MP Hri Kumar argued, this could undermine the credibility of our legal system but come on, what is one more inconsistency in the face of the absurdity of Singapore politics? For once, we could actually have an inconsistency that can be argued to make sense. And my case would be that at least having the law there would serve some form of deterrence. I can hear proponents (of the repeal) screaming that the professed lack of prosecution would already make the law invalid anyway but to take the step to remove it from our penal code is an even more significant promulgation of that admitted invalidity.
Not repealing this section does not make us less tolerant of gays. In fact, I feel that many Singaporeans today are liberal enough to respect the sexual orientation of their fellow countrymen. It is true that sometimes sniggers or excited prattle are generated but none so far as to violently discriminate against them (at least, none that I know of). Our dearly valued equality would not come into question here because as NMP Thio Li-Ann proclaimed in parliament, while all humans are of equal worth, not all human actions are. By ‘criminalising’ (because I do not see it as really criminalising since the law does not even actually prosecute them) these acts, we are attacking the wrongfulness of the act and seperating the actor from the act, not denouncing them.
I cannot deny that there may be undercurrents of prejudice since I am not an insider and may not feel it first hand, but I believe we can work towards sincerely accepting and integrating them into our society without doing away with the law. I admit that not formalizing this acceptance may already imply our insincerity but I would hate to see the endorsement of homosexuality as being a normal alternative lifestyle that our children could lead if they had so wanted. Homosexuality is a form of socialization and one cannot make the mistake of qualifying it as genetic (save for rare medical cases).
A concluding disclaimer must be added that this author is aware of such views being wholly personal and subjective. She welcomes the comments and opinions of readers, even and especially opposing.
The author further adds that this post is outdated, being that it was written for another avenue before she had a blog, but was not published because of its sensitive nature.