Parliamentary Classic: 377A (Part 1)

I have always been interested in lively debates, and I do not deny that I have been taking in a healthy interest in the whole 377A debate, having written 2 posts regarding the forum letters that were written to The Straits Times. In this part 1 of 2 posts, I will examine a popular notorious speech that was read out by our NMP Thio Li-Ann.

There have been many opinions and posts that were written in response to NMP Thio’s speech, and in fact, I read her speech at The Online Citizen. I found it amusing that members of parliament actually applauded this speech, which I feel is a little too flowery for my liking.

There are plenty of bombastic words, and words that I cannot understand, nor will I seek to understand. I always thought a debate is meant for others to hear your views so it would be great to make them easier to understand, and use less flowery terms like “Switzerland of Ambivalence”.

I do make some sense of whatever has been said, and certain issues are pretty interesting. However, I question many parts:

These flawed arguments are marinated with distracting fallacies which obscure what is at stake – repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties.

This paragraph speaks of fallacies within the pro-repeal camp, yet the following sentence is not a proven fact. In fact, many pro-repeal citizens are not part of the radical, political group. For example, I am pro-amendment of 377A, but I am not part of this group with any political agenda. It is a slippery slope, and an appeal to fear when it is concluded that it will subvert social morality, as well as the common good and undermine our liberties. This is a fallacy isn’t it?

The real question today is not “if” we should repeal 377A now, or wait until people are ready to move. This assumes too much, as though we need an adjustment period before the inevitable.

I thought that was what we have been doing, waiting till people are ready to move. HOTA was like that. When it first started, it only carries accidental deaths. Now, HOTA is expanding due to citizens becoming more open about the concept of organ donation. It is not an assumption, but rather, a proven fact, that mindsets need to be changed gradually.

It rests precariously on an idiosyncratic notion of “harm” – but “harm” can be both physical and intangible; victims include both the immediate parties and third parties. What is done in ‘private’ can have public repercussions.

This sentence says that there is much more to harm. That the pro-repeal camp’s version of harm is narrow. That the harm is greater since there are 3rd parties involved. Then may I know, by sending out a message of non-enforcement, is this harm reduced? Since this harm is there whether S377A is present or not, then the repealing of S377A does not and will not change matters. This argument does not target our problem here.

not to take a stand, is to take a stand!

Since when by not taking a stand means we are taking a stand? If someone asks you if you would like 377A to be repealed, and you say “no comments”, what kind of stand is that? In an election, does the government count those no votes slips as a stand? No. Those slips without votes are considered void.

The issues surrounding s377A are about morality, not modernity or being cosmopolitan. What will foreigners think if we retain 377A? Depends on which foreigner you ask. Many would applaud us! Such issues divide other societies as well! The debate is not closed. A group of Canadians1 were grieved enough to issue an online apology to the world “for harm done through Canada’s legalization of homosexual marriage”, urging us not to repeat their mistakes.

I would like to question, is it an assumption that many foreigners would applaud us? By the way, what has what foreigners think got to do with the present debate? Or are we wasting time? A group of Canadians were grieved enough to issue an online apology? Yet its only a group and not a majority. There can be a group of Singaporeans (maybe 5 in total) that issue an online apology to gays in Singapore, but can that be taken as a proof that Singapore is pro-gay? Nope.

Homosexuality is a gender identity disorder; there are numerous examples of former homosexuals successfully dealing with this. Just this year, two high profile US activists left the homosexual lifestyle, the publisher of Venus, a lesbian magazine, and an editor of Young Gay America. Their stories are available on the net. An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.

Whether homosexuality is a gender identity disorder or not, we cannot say for sure. The science is relatively unknown. Yet this paragraph seems to mislead. What is the purpose here? Are we debating on whether 377A should be repealed, or are we debating if gays have hope of becoming hetrosexual again? Yes, they may have a chance, but no matter what, they were criminals and they will continue to be criminals when they become heterosexual.

To those who say that 377A penalizes only gays not lesbians, note there have been calls to criminalize lesbianism too.

However, reality is that lesbianism is not criminalized under 377A, so no matter how many calls there is, it is not right to imply that lesbianism is not tolerated under the law.

Ideas, embodied in laws, have consequences. Don’t send the wrong message.

This is true. Yet it is highly ironic that the MHA speaks of non-enforcement, effectively sending the message that its all right to have anal and oral sex between homosexuals in private because they will not actively enforce. In fact, as long as its between consensual adults, how would it be proven that there is sex involved?

Sir, it is true that not all moral wrongs, such as adultery, are criminalized; yet they retain their stigma. But adulterors know they done wrong and do not lobby for toleration of adultery as a sexual orientation right.

Does it mean that it is only wrong if you lobby for toleration? We are comparing moral wrongs and their criminalization here, not whether there is any lobby action performed or not. Moral wrongs are wrong, lobbying does not make them more wrong or more right. It should not matter whether there is any lobbying or not. By saying this, its like saying I’m punishing you more because you lobby. Its sending the WRONG message.

She proceeds to list 5 steps for a sexual revolution. However, she fails to consider that for all the steps to be passed through, parliament will have to debate it over,and it will most likely be overthrown. You can repeal 377A yet send out a message that homosexuality is not tolerant.

She then proceeds to talk about democracy and debate, and that no one should call names such as bigots. She is talking mainly on her own emotional trauma that she went through. The point is, those anti-repeal people are calling pro-repeal people names too. They call them gays. I’m pro-repeal, but I’m not a gay or a gay lover. Both sides have called each other names, why the need to address them in parliament? Is it to make people have a sense of pity whilst creating disgust at the pro camp? This is really unethical isn’t it?

However I question the need to talk about all of that. There is nothing in that part that contributes to the discussion on whether 377A should be repealed or not. The whole point seems to be an appeal to pity,rather than a contribution to the discussion.

Well, these are my comments. I may have misintepreted them, so if you have alternative comments, please do tell me and we can have a healthy discussion. No name calling please!

In part 2, I will look at the good arguments in the pro-repeal camp, and set my stand on this issue straight.

5 thoughts on “Parliamentary Classic: 377A (Part 1)

  1. Well said 🙂

    And I like your part about the gahmen can do away with S377A and yet issue a statement saying it does not promote or encourage homosexuality…

    Isn’t it the same with smoking?

    As far as I can tell, smoking is actually more harmful than gay sex and the number of people dying directly and indirectly as a result of smoking plus the toil on their loved ones are much much higher than implications from consensual gay sex, if any…

    But do you hear the religious right making any noise about smoking? No? Not surprising because smoking was not specifically mentioned in the good bible as a sin/abomination/unnatural etc etc, despite the extensive harm that it does…

    That’s what happens when they take it so literally…sigh

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