ST: Baey: Let's air gay issues to spur greater awareness (Oct 24)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oct 24, 2007
Baey: Let's air gay issues to spur greater awareness

MP BAEY Yam Keng hopes the Government will
create an environment to foster greater debate on gay

Doing so will allow more Singaporeans to reach an informed
opinion on whether gay sex should be criminalised, said the
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC yesterday.

Speaking in both English and Mandarin, Mr Baey's heartfelt
speech also gave, at times, his personal take on the decision
to keep the Penal Code's Section 377A, which criminalises sex
between men.

Recounting an anecdote to highlight the impact of retaining the
law, he spoke of a gay friend who could not muster the courage
to reveal it to his parents.

'He disclosed this secret to his father only at his grave, and till
today, his mother still does not know of his sexual orientation,'
Mr Baey said.

He noted that while both proponents and opponents of the law
have spoken 'publicly and rationally, the majority of
Singaporeans continue to be indifferent about the issue'.

Part of the reason, he said, was that many Singaporeans are
ignorant about homosexuality.

For instance, he received public feedback that if gay sex is not
criminalised, there will be an increase in homosexual activity,
and hence more Aids patients.

'The fact that in 2006, of the new Aids cases in Singapore,
homosexual transmission constituted only 26 per cent, does
not seem to register clearly with the public,' he said.

Most Singaporeans are also likely to have negative stereotypes
of homosexuals, such as of them preying on young boys, as
often depicted in the media.

In his Mandarin speech, Mr Baey said some gay men never
disclose it to their parents, for fear of bringing shame and
sorrow to their families.

Hence, there should be more dialogue on such issues to spur
greater understanding of what being gay means, he said.

Institutions such as the Law Society, on their part, should also
speak up on the issue to raise the quality of the debate.

'Hopefully we will move, and not play catch up, with the pace of
changes around the world that are affecting people's lives,' Mr
Baey said.