TNP: 'Silent' majority turns up the VOLUME (Oct 20)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

'Silent' majority turns up the VOLUME

THEY are the 'silent majority' who say gay sex is wrong.

Except for a few letters to the press, they have mostly kept their views private.

Until yesterday.

That's when was launched.

The petition urges the Government not to remove Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex.

At press time, there were 132 signatures.

This follows an online petition ( urging the Government to repeal the law and Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong's announcement that he was tabling a petition in Parliament to abolish the law.

That petition, started last Friday, has 6,200 signatures. It closes today.

Both petitions ask for the full name of those who sign, but the keep377A site says the names won't appear on it, and also asks for a nickname.

The repeal377A site says the full names will appear on the letter to the Prime Minister, and asks those who prefer not to have their name displayed on the website to give their initials.

One of those who started the Keep 377A petition, Mr Martin Tan, 30, told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: '(The petition) was started by a few concerned individuals who feel that perhaps it is time for the majority to speak their mind.

'We believe that repealing Section 377A will have an adverse effect on society in the long run and is contrary to what the majority of Singapore want, which is to retain Section 377A.'

Under the heading 'We the Majority', the website cites a recent Nanyang Technological University study of more than 1,000 people that revealed 70 per cent of Singaporeans frown upon on homosexuality.


The open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the website said Section 377A is 'a reflection of the sentiments of the majority of society' and that repealing the law is 'a vehicle to force homosexuality on a conservative population that is not ready for homosexuality'.

Those who signed the petition gave reasons such as homosexuality is wrong, and not wanting to 'undermine the family unit upon which our society is built'.

One person wrote: 'It is not right to alter the S377A which stands for traditional family values which built what Singapore is today.'

A church worker, who wrote a letter to a newspaper voicing her objections to repealing Section 377A, told The New Paper: 'It's a good idea. It shows the silent majority isn't that silent after all.'

But business consultant Jenica Chua, 33, who wrote to The Straits Times criticising Mr Siew for overstepping his boundaries as an NMP, warned that it shouldn't escalate into a war between the opposing sides.

'We're not in a fight or a shouting match,' she said. 'We should want what's best for Singapore at large.'

And her stand on this contentious issue?

'As a Singaporean, I stand by the majority view - that is, to keep Section 377A and not allow homosexuality to become a mainstream value,' she said.

The church worker agreed.

'It shouldn't be about the conservatives versus the liberals, but about values that are important to our society.'

Dr Alan Chin, who once wrote to The Straits Times forum warning about gays' high-risk lifestyle, thinks the petitions by both sides are pointless.

'They won't change a thing. The Government has already decided on (the matter),' he explained.

In its latest Penal Code review completed last month, the Government decided to keep the status quo on Section 377A as Singapore is 'a generally conservative society'. However, it would not actively prosecute people under this section.

But Mr Tan said: 'Whether the Government has already decided or not should not change the fact that the time has come for the majority to make our stand.

'The main objective is to make known what the majority of Singaporeans want, that is to retain Section 377A.

'To quote one of the signatories, 'It's not about doing things right, it's about doing the right thing'. We believe what we are doing is right.'

by Low Ching Ling