ST: Let's convince the majority to do what is fair: Charles Chong (Oct 24)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oct 24, 2007
Let's convince the majority to do what is fair: Charles Chong
By Keith Lin

MP CHARLES Chong wants the Government to show leadership on Section
377A - by updating it to better reflect the realities on the ground.

And among the moves would be not to criminalise 'acts done in private
between consenting adults', and to make the provisions of the law

'We should show leadership and convince the majority to do what is
fair, just and representative of the age in which we live,' said the
MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol.

Speaking after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there should be no
change to Section 377A, Mr Chong said he would not hide behind the
views of the 'conservative majority'.

If the experts are correct in their view that some people are born
with a different sexual orientation, then 'it would be quite wrong of
us to criminalise and to persecute those that are born different from
us regardless of how conservative a society we claim to be', he argued.

'We also claim to be a secular and inclusive society. We should
therefore respect the private space of those who are born different
from us, as much as we expect them to respect our common space.'

Besides, enforcing this would be onerous without what he called
'religious vigilantes' to spy on the goings-on in bedrooms and hotel
rooms, he said.

'And is it really the business of Government to regulate acts between
consenting adults born with different sexual orientations in the
privacy of their bedrooms?'

Another aspect of Section 377A which he took issue with was the fact
that only men engaged in such acts are deemed to have run foul of the law.

'The section criminalises acts of gross indecency in public and in
private only if it is engaged between men. Now surely the minister
must acknowledge that women are as capable as men of committing such acts.

'Is Section 377A therefore as it stands a correct statement of our
values and principles? Or are there no lesbians in Singapore?'

He added that Section 377A should be extended to protect women from
the unwanted sexual advances of other women.

Now, only men who solicit or attempt to solicit sex from another man
can be charged under the law.

Noting that there were concerns about the drastic consequences for
society if Section 377A was repealed, he reminded them of similar
concerns from the past.

A senior politician, who he did not name, argued that the removal of a
regulation would lead to 'conflicts, fights and murders'.

'Well, we have abolished that archaic regulation and permitted bar-
top dancing for some years already and the world has not come to an
end yet,' he quipped.