ST Online Forum: Section 377A should be repealed - reputation in legal and multinational community at stake (Aug 16)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Section 377A should be repealed - reputation in legal and multinational community at stake

IN RECENT months, significant debate has raged in the press on the 'gay' issue.

Many arguments favouring retention of section 377A appear to be religious dogma masquerading as universal truism, which it isn't.

When Singapore's Law Society urged the repealing of section 377A, it stated that those arguing for its retention were a 'minority'. Many in Singapore also hold belief systems fundamentally grounded on acceptance and tolerance.

Sometimes the arguments are clouded by excessive facts and figures. For example, Dr Alan Chin Yew Liang's contribution, 'Beware the high-risk 'gay lifestyle' ' (ST, Aug 8), highlighted the promiscuity of gay men with this statement: '28% of them have more than 1,000 partners'. Would he then suggest the unthinkable, that gay marriages be allowed so that overactive libidos can be contained?

Dr Chin further laments that 'not enough has been done to warn our youth that leading a gay lifestyle is not cool'. I disagree.

In a society where continuing of the family name is of utmost importance, gays are often threatened with being disowned, disinherited and ostracised by family, friends and colleagues. Indeed, I sometimes wonder why any sane person would choose to be gay.

Perhaps MM Lee is correct in suggesting that this is genetic. If so, then should we blame God for this genetic aberration, or blame it on the parents who conceived such a child?

Frankly, keeping section 377A and not enforcing it is an unnecessary burden.

First, it changes nothing. Second, as asserted by Singapore's Law Society, 'retention of unprosecuted offences on the statute book runs the risk of bringing the law into disrepute'.

Worse, if an openly-gay opportunistic expatriate sues his multinational company for posting him here, thereby knowingly endangering him given that his lifestyle is a criminal offence in Singapore, assertions that the law will not be pursued would prove a weak defence. Such a suit could prove financially lucrative for him, but detrimental to Singapore's standing with MNCs.

For the greater good, Singapore should repeal section 377A. Our reputation in the legal and multinational community is important. Retaining section 377A will just keep this albatross on Singapore's neck forever.

Repeal it and the gay community may celebrate, but it will prove a Pyrrhic victory. The moment will be consigned to forgotten history in months, if not weeks.

In the long run, our conservative majority that continues to frown on gays, the Aids epidemic, the promiscuous gay lifestyle and their inherent inability to procreate will conspire to keep this minority group a minority.

Jason Wee Kheng Hoe