ST Online Forum: Why Govt is right to retain S377A of the Penal Code (Oct 20)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why Govt is right to retain S377A of the Penal Code

I STRONGLY disagree with the assertions made in the letters, 'NMP in no way overstepped his role' and 'Why is one law 'archaic' and not the other?' by Mr Ooi Jian Yuan and Ms Tan Yen Ling respectively (ST, Oct 18).

The Government is right to retain S377A of the Penal Code for several reasons.

First, the comparison of S377A with S498 of the Penal Code is wrong. S498 is about enticement of married women. Women are no longer viewed as chattels and, hence, S498 is no longer relevant. S377A, however, relates to sexual morality which is highly relevant. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are not morally equivalent and S377A rightly reflects this position.

Second, the constitutional right to equal protection does not prohibit all differentiating measures. Only laws which do not bear a rational nexus to a governmental objective are unconstitutional.

Third, it is fallacious to assert that laws should be objective and neutral. All laws strike a balance between competing interests, or elevate an important interest above other interests. For example, we have laws embodying commercial morality (directors' duties and insider trading) and sexual morality (incest, paedophilia and bestiality). It is harmful to our society to insist on sexual freedom and autonomy free from governmental interference. We should not ape harmful foreign culture which exalts sexual freedom.

Fourth, Mr Ooi argues that NMP Siew Kum Hong is 'straight' and should be applauded for supporting the homosexual cause. NMP Siew's sexuality is irrelevant to the desirability of his petition. NMP Siew supports a relativistic sexual morality as a liberal. This radical ethic is based on consensus of individuals. It is insidious and harmful to the interests of the society at large. For example, one can then argue that incest should be decriminalised if two adults consent.

Let us not throw off essential restraints under the insidious covers of autonomy, equality, freedom and liberty.

Yu Yin Wei (Ms)