ST Forum: Why is male homosexuality a crime but not lesbianism?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ST Forum

May 15, 2007

Why is male homosexuality a crime but not lesbianism?

IN RESPONSE to Assistant Professor Yvonne Lee's reply to my letter, 'Professor's view on gay's prejudiced' (Online forum May 8), I would like to follow up in the interest of clarity and fair comment on the points raised.

First, Prof Lee feels that I have questioned her professional qualifications and engaged in a personal attack in asking questions about her essay. I intended no such attack and apologise unreservedly for any offence.

Second, it seems that Prof Lee's article has generated a substantial amount of debate, both reasoned and otherwise. I view this as a welcome effect as I firmly believe that only though public discussion will Singapore become a better civil society on such an important topic as equality under the law.

Therefore, contrary to Prof Lee's assertion, I am delighted to see the muddle scrum of public debate - informed or not, for or against - as it usually produces a consensus that current society can live with until the next evolution in local values dictates further review.

Finally, returning to the substance of Prof Lee's essay, the writer continues to be vague in answering the questions raised in my original letter asking for evidence supporting her generalised statements on the linkage between homosexuality and public health concerns; the existence of a broader slippery slope homosexual agenda in Singapore; and how 'free speech' as construed within Singapore's legal history would be curtailed by decriminalising homosexuality in Singapore.

To the questions above, I would appreciate Prof Tan explaining why only male and not female homosexuality should be a crime under Singapore law; if homosexuality is against Singapore's public interest why criminalise sexual expression and not the person; and how can homosexuals in Singapore follow her advice to live their lives peacefully when Section 377A (whether enforced or not) is explicit in making their private activity a crime.

Brian Selby