ST: Gays born that way? Jury's still out on that one, says MP (Oct 24)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oct 24, 2007
Gays born that way? Jury's still out on that one, says MP
Mr Lim Biow Chuan one of nine PAP backbenchers to speak on
Section 377A

By Goh Chin Lian

WHILE he is all for respecting homosexuals, MP Lim Biow Chuan
Parade GRC) does not believe gays are born that way.

Rising to speak immediately after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
Lim yesterday took a different view from that of the PM, who
there is a growing body of scientific evidence that sexual
is substantially inborn.

Said Mr Lim: 'With the greatest respect to the prime minister,
I must
state that I do not think there is conclusive evidence that
behaviour is inborn.

'The jury is out on this issue and different scientists would have
different views on the matter.'

PM Lee had joined the debate on a citizens' petition to repeal the
criminalising sex between men.

Urging the various groups to leave Section 377A alone, PM Lee
there is space in Singapore for all, including homosexuals, to

Acknowledging their place in Singapore, Mr Lim said that while
disagreed with homosexual practice, he was not against gays.

'I have friends who are gay and my approach to them is simply
that I
do not agree with your lifestyle, but I would respect you for
who you are.

'If you are a decent chap, an honest and hardworking person,
sexual orientation or preference does not affect the way I see
you. I
would treat you and respect you as another fellow citizen.'

Mr Lim was one of nine PAP backbenchers who devoted at least
part of
their speech yesterday on the amendments to the Penal Code,
to the law
against sex between men.

MPs who favoured retaining the law such as Mr Lim, Mr Ong Kian
(Tampines GRC) and Dr Muhammad Faishal (Marine Parade
GRC), argued
that most Singaporeans are not ready to accept
homosexual acts as a
way of life.

They also said the petition to repeal the law has prompted
in their wards to contact them to express their disapproval
and even
outrage with it, as well as unease with how the issue
might evolve.

The Malay community gave similar feedback, said Dr Faishal.

Mr Ong said the bulk of Singaporeans are not prepared to
their family values.

They want to preserve the traditional family unit of a father, a
mother and children, at a time when it is threatened by rising
rates, single-parent households and work pressure.

'By condoning homosexuality, we are effectively initiating a
shift in
the definition of the family unit... Singaporeans
are simply not ready
to change their family values and endorse
homosexuality as normal,''
he said.

Madam Cynthia Phua (Aljunied GRC) made a similar call to
uphold the
traditional family unit and values.

Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) disagreed with
Nominated MP Siew
Kum Hong, who had presented the petition,
that retaining the law
constituted the tyranny of a majority.

'I would be the first to stand up for a gay man's right to be treated
as an equal under the law.

'Yet, I am an MP who believes that as a nation, our families
are not
ready to have an open acceptance of the gay lifestyle,
same-sex marriages and gay adoption of young children.'

This, he said, is 'a matter of principle, not of numbers'.

Gay Singaporeans continue to have their private space here,
noted Dr
Faishal. 'I do not think the community's rights are
being put under
the microscope.'

Madam Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC), noting an undercurrent
hostility surrounding the discussion, called for cool heads.

She said: 'I appeal to all interest groups and interested individuals
to discuss the issue in a calm and peaceful manner befitting a civil
and civilised society.'


'In addition to the delicious rendang and ketupat, Section 377A
a hot topic of discussion during my Hari Raya visits and

DR MUHAMMAD FAISHAL (Marine Parade GRC), on feedback
that he received
from the Malay community


'I have heard the many stories and quotes that Mr Siew Kum
Hong has
related about homosexuals living in Singapore. It is
difficult not to
be moved by them.'

MR SEAH KIAN PENG (Marine Parade GRC), on stories that the
MP had recounted in Parliament on Monday


'Let the family unit not be compromised.

MR ONG KIAN MIN (Tampines GRC), on how encouraging
homosexuality will undermine the traditional family of a father,
mother and child.


'I understand that there are disturbing undercurrents of
violent hostility surrounding this discussion.'

MADAM HO GEOK CHOO (West Coast GRC), on the need for all
parties to discuss the law on sex between men in a calm and
peaceful manner