Thursday, May 3, 2007

May 3, 2007
'Gay acts harm no one' argument flawed

MR CHOO Zheng Xi ('Justify why gay acts should remain criminal'; ST, May 1) asserts that while individual liberties can be constrained to prevent harm to society, Section 377 should be abolished on the grounds that gay acts harm no one. Following this line of argument, laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets and motorists, seat belts, would have to be repealed because
no harm is caused to others when they fail to do so.

Therefore it is not always the case that clear harm to other people has to be proven before a particular law is enacted. H.L.A. Hart, the 20th-century philosopher, pointed out that the harm principle is justified only if most people make their choices in the ideal fashion - 'with adequate reflection or appreciation of the consequences'.

In the real world, many external forces exert their influence on individuals. Professor Tan Seow Hon once argued in an article regarding the issue of unnatural sex that 'when longstanding laws rooted in morality are repealed, the effect on members of society who are hitherto neutral, and on
impressionable youths, may be disastrous'.

Decriminalising homosexuality is as much a moral stance as criminalising it. By decriminalising homosexuality, we are necessarily sending out a signal of approval because we have engaged one moral world view - that autonomy is an absolute value - when this view is in contention among different world views. Section 377 should be abolished only if there are rational reasons
for choosing that world view over another.

Istyana Putri Ibrahim (Miss)