ST: Professor Thio Li-Ann ( Oct 23)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oct 23, 2007
Professor Thio Li-Ann

'THEY offer an 'argument from consent' - Government should not police the private sexual behaviour of consenting adults. They opine this violates their liberty or 'privacy'. They ask, why criminalise something which does not 'harm' anyone; if homosexuals are 'born that way', isn't it unkind to 'discriminate' against their sexual practices?

These flawed arguments are marinated with distracting fallacies which obscure what is at stake - repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties.

Debate must be based on substance, not sound-bites. Let me red-flag four red herrings.

First, to say a law is archaic is merely chronological snobbery.

Second, you cannot say a law is 'regressive' unless you first identify your ultimate goal. If we seek to copy the sexual libertine ethos of the wild wild West, then repealing Section 377A is progressive.

Third, to say a law which criminalises homosexual acts because many find it offensive is merely imposing a 'prejudice' or 'bias' assumes with justification that no reasonable contrary view exists. This evades debate.

Fourth, some argue that legislators should be 'open-minded' and decriminalise sodomy. This demand for objectivity is intellectually disingenuous as there is no neutral ground, no 'Switzerland of ambivalence' when we consider the moral issues related to 377A which
require moral judgment of what is right and wrong - not to take a stand, is to take a stand!

The issues surrounding 377A are about morality, not modernity or being cosmopolitan. What will foreigners think if we retain 377A? Depends on which foreigner you ask.

While homosexuals are a numerical minority, there is no such thing as 'sexual minorities' at law. Activists have coined this term to draw a beguiling but fallacious association between homosexuals and legally recognised minorities like racial groups.

Race is a fixed trait. It remains controversial whether homosexual orientation is genetic or environmental, perhaps both. There are no ex-blacks but there are ex-gays.

The 'argument from consent' says the state should keep out of the bedroom, to safeguard 'sexual autonomy'. While we cherish racial and religious diversity, sexual diversity is a different kettle of fish.

Diversity is not licence for perversity. This radical liberal argument is pernicious, a leftist philosophy based on radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. It is unworkable because every viable moral theory has limits to consent.

If you argue from consent, how can you condemn any form of sexual self-expression, no matter how selfish or hurtful? But, no man is an island. Ideas, embodied in laws, have consequences. Don't send the wrong message.'