Parliamentary Classic: 377A (Part 2)

A check at Singaporedaily revealed many other blogs that commented on the Thio Li-Ann speech, with many point by point rebuttals which were quite excellent, although I can’t say that I agree on everything. However I learnt a new fallacy called “strawman”.

Now, in part 2, I will talk about what my stand is and why I am pro-repeal and why I am disgusted with certain elements of “the majority”.

Let me first talk about why I am disgusted with “the majority”. The term “majority” should not be used. It evokes a sense of togetherness, and seems to sway mindsets into thinking that most people are like them. Weaker willed people will join them to be part of the “majority” because they do not want to be seen as in the other camp, or “the minority”.

However the reality is that we do not know whether the majority is, the majority. The “majority” quoted an NTU survey (look at this source) that they exploited to show that 7 in 10 Singaporeans are against homosexuality. It is interesting to note that the way the questions were phrased seems to be a little unprofessional. I quote:

For example, they were asked whether sex between two men or two women was ‘plain wrong’ and whether homosexuals or lesbians were ‘disgusting’.

The terms plain wrong and disgusting are vague terms but I won’t go into that deeply.

I think the right question, in this context, should be:

Do you feel that there is a need to criminalize homosexuals who have sex with each other in the privacy of their bedroom. I say this because I am disgusted with gay sex. I mean, I can’t fathom myself doing this intimacy thing with another guy. Yet, if I’m asked this question, I would say no, we should not criminalize it. There is a distinct difference between thinking that certain acts are disgusting, and supporting the retention of 377A. According to MP Hri Kumar, “Well, I can understand that, 70 per cent frown on it, but how many actually said that we are willing to criminalise it? That question was not even asked. And that is a serious question because that is the issue we face today.”

Another reason why I am disgusted with the majority is that they have been hiding behind their claims of moral values and family units, but, they have never formally met up the challenge of proving the claims of the pro-repeal camp wrong. In a debate, if you disagree, you should take down the opponents argument. They have not been able to do that, in fact, they have yet to take them head on. What they have been doing is to keep harping on family values and morals without really explaining why the repealing of 377A will, without doubt, cause family values and morals to change.

I am also disgusted that they cannot take insults of bigotry, but yet label pro-repealers as gay sympathizers, or even gays or faggots. Name calling is normal in such debates, but we should just take it and leave it. Harping on it does not show how holy or morally upright one is.

I will now talk about my own opinion on this issue:

1. How is it, that repealing 377A means that the government endorses homosexuality?
Let me begin with an example. If one day, we become more pro-life and decide to amend the punishment for murder from death to life-imprisonment, are we sending out the message that we encourage murder? No we don’t. Another point to note is that how can it be sending out a “wrong message”, when the government has already mentioned, time and again, that they will not actively prosecute gays who have sex in private?

So what is the message we are sending? Are we for or against it? What do we stand for? While this may be an uncomfortable issue, we should at least make our position clear. (MP Hri Kumar)

I agree. Let us make our stand clear. Are we against it, or are we not? The MHA’s stand leads me to believe ” that the government no longer believes, if indeed it did before, that the sort of activity contemplated by 377A is harmful at all.” (Professor Michael Hor, adapted from NMP Siew’s speech)

2. Repealing 377A will not necessarily lead to those undesirable situations many have claimed

I believe that “it is stretching logic to suggest that the repeal will lead to a sudden proliferation of homosexual activity” (MP Hri Kumar). The majority says that it threatens the family unit, and that gays will want to claim more rights like same sex marriages and right to adopt a child. However, has anyone considered that “But that involves the Government actively endorsing and passing legislation to recognise same sex marriages.” (MP Hri Kumar). If the gay camp ever decides to do that, we can have another debate in parliament? Or are we telling our citizens that we are afraid to debate on this policy?

I have another view: Why can’t the gay camp decide to lobby for the right to marry? In fact, in our traditional moral values, we marry, then we have sex. Isn’t it more logical to lobby for the right to marry and then the right to have sex first? To suggest that the repeal of 377A leads to more lobbying doesn’t seem to fit the whole puzzle. I do not see why this defeat to the gay community will make them less likely to lobby for the right to marry.

3. I believe that laws should be rational and justice should prevail. There should not be any majority – minority thing

In fact, by claiming themselves to be the majority, the majority have, in fact, created a imaginary situation where they have discriminated against those that are different from them, or, the minority.

I quote: “Ultimately laws should be passed and repealed not only because the majority wants it that way but because it makes sense and ultimately it’s in the interest of Singapore as a whole and that includes the interest of all minority groups.” (MP Hri Kumar)

And repealing 377A, or amending it, makes perfect sense to me.

4. Where is the harm in repealing 377A?

Opponents to the repeal agenda claims that there is a harm in repealing 377A. NMP Thio claims that “victims include both the immediate parties and third parties. What is done in ‘private’ can have public repercussions.”

However, the reality is this: Homosexuals are already having sex, maybe in the bedroom beside yours. The MHA has already said that they will not actively enforce 377A, so the sex is there. The harm is there. The problem now is, is repealing 377A going to create more of such harm? Those families that were hurt are hurt and will continue to be hurt. Since there is no change, then surely this argument cannot be used against the repeal of 377A.

Some may say, the abolishment of 377A would lead to more homosexual activity. People may suddenly decide to have sex since the law is changed. However, the current law is not enforced. There is no need to fear that law. As such, the number of people who may decide to start having sex (and thus hurt their family members) is minimal.

5. I do not like selective sign-posting

Sign-posting was brought up in NMP Siew’s speech, and I agree. How can we selectively sign-post moral issues? What about the public morality on prostitution, or gambling?

6. I do not believe that it is up to us to judge others in this manner

NMP Siew read out this passage:

Madam K, a civil servant, wrote:
“my son is gay. He came out to me when he was 22. And I was upset and i blamed myself why is my son gay… i blamed myself all the time. But he is my son. He has not changed since the first day i gave birth to him or the person he is today. I love him for who he is, for what he is. It sickens me that people think suggests that just because he is gay, our family isnt what it is. We are a family. what people do in their private lives shouldnt be an issue to anyone as long as it doesnt harm anyone else. He doesnt know i am doing this but I support this repeal. he is my son and he is not a criminal. if i can accept him, his mother who gave birth to him, who these people who so quickly judge him and condemn him?”

Why should we cast our eyes and mouths on others when the mother doesn’t even do that? The mother, who has found in herself the capacity to accept and forgive, should be in a better position to judge. We may think its disgusting, and if we believe that there is hope to change them, then we should work on it. However, we should not criminalize them.

I am not going to go into the opponent’s arguments and talk about how illogical they sound. Many blogs have done just that. I am just merely stating my own opinions. I do not agree entirely with the pro-repeal camp, but I do agree with many parts, and what I feel is exactly what MP Hri Kumar said in his speech. Go read it if you all are interested.

Theonlinecitizen is a wonderful site. Do check it out and participate in discussions!

References:
MP Hri Kumar Section 377A is inconsistent
http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/10/23/section-377a-is-inconsistent-pap-mp-hri-kumar/
Thio Li-Ann 377A serves public morality. Taken from http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/10/23/377a-serves-public-morality-nmp-thio-li-ann/#more-556
Siew Kum Hong Turn our backs on prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and hatred
http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/10/23/nmp-siew-kum-hong-turn-our-backs-on-prejudice-discrimination-intolerance-and-hatred/

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One thought on “Parliamentary Classic: 377A (Part 2)

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the compliment about TOC. 🙂

    I notice that your site does not provide a RSS feed. Perhaps you could look into it? I think it will help us be informed whenever you make a new posting.

    Meantime, keep blogging… your blog is a good read.. 🙂

    Regards,
    Andrew
    theonlinecitizen.com

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