ST Online Forum: Straight people need to re-examine their heterosexuality (Jul 26)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26, 2007

Straight people need to re-examine their heterosexuality

I REFER to the article, 'What will the future be for our children if we decriminalise homosexuality?' by Mr Benjamin Ng Chee Yong (Online forum, July 21).

I can see how Mr Ng may be disgusted with his observation of men (supposedly gay) loitering in the changing rooms of swimming pools, peeping at other men at the urinals and the physical abuse (molest by other men) he himself experienced during his youth. For that, he calls for continued criminalisation of homosexuality as he fears for the safety of his children.

What about the less than desirable sexual expressions of heterosexuals that we are all too familiar with? Girls are taught to avoid taking the elevator alone with men, and tough night curfews are usually set for them as parents fear their daughters may fall prey to molesters and rapists. Parents advise their daughters against skimpy bikinis so as not to attract advances of men with questionable intentions. And we all know the hanky panky that goes on in some KTV lounges, not to mention the open solicitation of prostitutes that line the streets of Geylang. These are sexual activities of straight people, yet no one has called for the criminalisation of heterosexuality.

As much as the proposition of criminalising heterosexuality may sound absurd, most straight people do not realise that they are applying the same untenable line of argument when they call for the continued criminalisation of homosexuality. Surely not all heterosexuals are molesters and rapists. Likewise, not all homosexual men go around molesting young boys in elevators. If all homosexuals are to be criminalised for behaviours of the minority among them, then the same should apply to the heterosexuals.

In discussing the repeal of Section 377A, straight people have to re-examine the fundamentals of their own sexuality. Firstly, they need to understand their basic sexual urges and how the urges are expressed or contained. While the majority are able to contain and express their sexual urges in ways that are not harmful to others in society, there is a minority who are unable to restrain themselves. Homosexuals are no different.

Secondly, straight people need to realise how fundamental their sexual orientation and preference are to their being. Most heterosexuals would say that they were not influenced in their adolescent years into liking people of the opposite gender. They are just naturally inclined that way. It's not something they have to decide. It is also not something they can change even if they want to. Likewise, homosexuals will tell you that their sexual orientation is not something they choose or can change.

Key to the debate on Section 377A is realising the commonality between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Homosexuality is as fundamental to gay people as heterosexuality is fundamental to straight people. Only when straight people learn to see gay people in this light will we make progress.

Dr Peter Goh Kok Yong