ST Online Forum: Polarisation beginning to surface after S377A debate (Nov 1)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nov 1, 2007
Polarisation beginning to surface after S377A debate

BOTH sides of the recent Section 377A debate have claimed victory and selectively focused on relevant portions of PM Lee's speech in Parliament to back up their stands.

Rather than victory, I suggest that both camps have 'lost' in their recent effort to bring the moderate majority to their stated cause.

For those who supported the retention of Section 377A, and especially the deeply religious, this effort has alienated the moderate majority in their lop-sided emphasis on 'hating the sin' and neglecting the equal call to 'love the sinner'.

While they need not renounce their opposition to homosexual behaviour to welcome the gay and lesbian community, it is a reality that the religious have yet to adopt an openly consistent and compassionate approach with people with homosexual tendencies.

For those who supported the repeal of Section 377A, their insistence on labelling all those who oppose the repeal as bigots and right-wing religious fanatics did little to draw the moderate majority to them either.

The polarisation effects are beginning to surface. Mr Janadas Devan fired the first salvo in his satire piece tearing into Thio Li-Ann's logic and Andy Ho focused his spotlight on PM Lee's assertion that homosexuality is substantially inborn in one single edition of The Straits Times (Oct 27). Alex Au, the well-known gay activist whom the media always turn to for views on homosexual issues, has also taken
off the gloves in his Yawning Bread website by portraying the 'religious right' as Ku Klux Klan and writing that there is no need to be civil to those who take an opposing stand from them. While I have my own reservations regarding Thio Li-Ann's fiery speech in Parliament, a local playwright and aspiring teacher's threat to desecrate her grave was not a civil way to debate the issue. More of these vitriol exchanges will cement the current battle line drawn in the sand and PM Lee's warning of a divided and polarised society will become a reality.

Let's maintain the pragmatism, cherish the space, respect the limits, live and let live.

Alex Tan Tuan Loy