ST Online Forum: Situation for gays here is far from ambiguous (Sept 6)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Situation for gays here is far from ambiguous I refer to MM Lee Kuan Yew's latest remarks to the International Herald Tribune about Singapore's laws regarding homosexuals.

With all due respect to MM Lee, I would like to point out that while it might be politically expedient for the Singapore Government to hold an ambiguous position on this matter, there is nothing ambiguous about the current situation for gay Singaporeans.

Because, while this ambiguity might sound benign, it is far from it. It denies gay Singaporeans equality.

This isn't about demanding gay parades or special rights. It is about eliminating a law that puts a minority at a significant disadvantage.

For, even though this law is supposedly not enforced, the threat of persecution stands as an unambiguous acknowledgement that Singapore's gay citizens are second-class (never mind that they are actually branded criminals).

It legitimises discrimination and perpetuates a climate of fear, shame and hatred.

Put simply, it makes it harder for gay Singaporeans to live their lives.

More poignantly, it makes it more difficult for gay Singaporeans, and their families and friends, to wholeheartedly celebrate their country.

This antiquated British law - already overturned in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as MM Lee pointed out - hangs like a Sword of Damocles over a vital and vibrant community of Singaporeans and permanent residents.

It is talent pool that Singapore can ill-afford to lose or turn away.

Now China recognises its gay citizens, the reasons given as to why Singapore needs to keep this law on its books sound less and less convincing every day.

MM Lee, you said in the interview that this law will have to go in time. I contend that gay Singaporeans should not have to wait a day longer.

Mr Alan Seah Chang Wei