Today Voices: Why an anti-gay law?

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007

Today Voices: Why an anti-gay law?

Section 377A not key reason why gays stay or leave S’pore

Letter from JOHN TAN

I REFER to the report “What price, the pink dollar?” (May 19) by Jasmine Yin and Gracia Chiang.

There is no doubt that Section 377A of the Penal Code, a law criminalising homosexual activity between men, should be tossed out of Singapore’s law books. We should not have to compare ourselves with other countries, but it may be good to know that Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Laos,
Vietnam, the Philippines and many of our other Asian neighbours have no such law discriminating against gay men.

I would think that some of these countries have societies that would be as, if not more, conservative than Singapore is.

As to whether we would be able to retain Jeremy and his scholarly partner, I doubt the “law” has any real impact on their decision. New York, London and Hong Kong may be “more open” to gays, but there is still a sizeable chunk of the mainstream population who will not tolerate any public display of affection between two men.

My point is, while the outdated law may still be around, it is not a real push factor that’s chasing the gay men out of Singapore. Neither is it stopping gay men, who can contribute greatly to the economy, from coming to Singapore. Maybe some gay activists might refuse to step in or stay in Singapore as a matter of principle, but a majority of gay men, like straight people, take into consideration a low crime rate, clean living environment, a vibrant economy, language, and many other factors as the reasons for a stay-or-leave decision.