TNP: Repealing law doesn't mean promoting gay lifestyle, say two MPs (Oct 25)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AN inconvenient truth.

Perhaps that's what Section 377A is to some Singaporeans and the Government, MP Baey Yam Keng suggested in Parliament yesterday.

The MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, who once declared his support for scrapping the law that criminalises gay sex, said: 'We have inherited 377A from the British.

'It is easier and, as the Senior Minister of State (Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee) said, more practical to maintain the status quo than to change it.'

But Mr Baey asked: How well does 'the perceived majority holding the status quo view' understand the issue?

'I suspect a significant segment of our society does not really care, and some are just uncomfortable with this topic and choose the convenient way to stick with the status quo without knowing what the act exactly is and does,' he said.

Like the resident who told him at a meet-the-people's session that she was glad the Government was keeping Section 377A.

'But when I asked her if she knew what 377A was about, she said no,' Mr Baey recalled.

Convenience is definitely not what works for his fellow MP, Mr Charles Chong.

He said: 'I think I would be remiss as a legislator if I merely hid behind the views of the 'conservative majority' and maintained the status quo, which, of course, would be the least inconvenient thing to do if you were not gay...


'It would simply not be realistic to expect the majority of Singaporeans to ever reach a position of being pro-homosexuality or where they will actively seek to repeal Section 377A.

'Even if heterosexual Singaporeans are apathetic towards homosexuality, it would be much easier just to maintain the status quo than to take steps to modify, if not expunge, 377A from the Penal Code.'

Is it really a slippery slope Singaporeans would be on if Section 377A is repealed?

Mr Chong gave the example of bar-top dancing.

'Some years ago, a senior politician (who shall remain un-named) argued his case as eloquently and as passionately as some of our NMPs did yesterday, in retaining an archaic regulation,' he said.

'The removal of such a regulation, it was said, would have led to staring incidents, fights and murders if it were to be abolished.

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

Mr Baey argued that repealing Section 377A does not mean promoting homosexuality.

'We do not want to condone smoking and drinking, (which) are not criminal, although we have made tobacco and alcohol less accessible and a lot more expensive,' he said.

'We want to promote marriage and procreation. Hence, singles do not enjoy certain tax and housing benefits.

'But they are not jailed.'