Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kenneth, Gary and 377a

Reading through all the comments on the recent verdict with respect to the repeal of section 377A I was surprised at the number of ugly comments that people had left. I know people are entitled to their opinions, but there were many that were just rude and plain offensive.

It made me take ....

....a step back because this is not a reflection of the Singapore I know.

Most seemed to be religious in nature, and while everyone is entitled to follow the religion of their choice they have no right to push that belief on anyone else. Any relationship between a person and their God must be a purely personal one. And it's clear from most of the comments that many don't even understand the issue to begin with.

Many talked about the sanctity of marriage, which has nothing to do with the repeal of 377a. And of course the heterosexual community are doing enough by themselves to tarnish that already without any help. I was going to put up some examples of that but really the list is pretty endless already so there's not much point. All you have to do is read the news any day of the week and you'll find something there.

Many talked about acts of public sex between 2 guys, which has nothing to do with the repeal of 377a, in fact even if 377a was repealed there are already laws that cover that regardless of gender or sexual orientation. I think some people believe that if the law is repealed that couples will be making out on every street corner, which is totally idiotic of course.

Many talked about protecting their children and about how the repeal of 377a will send them the wrong signal. I can understand that from a parents perspective, after all what parent would want their child to be gay given the stigma, abuse (verbal and physical), hate and bigotry that they would have to endure for simply being themselves. No one would wish that on a child.

Others were so warped you wonder how those comments came from a sane individual in the first place.

And yet throughout all the many comments in the same vein as those above many of those same dissenting voices talked about how it's alright to do what you want in private. And that is the very core of the challenge to 377a to begin with and the reason both Gary and Kenneth took this matter to the courts in the first place.

Section 377a states "Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years".

So here's my solution for the ongoing debate. Since this is about 377a being a law that focuses on a specific minority then lets just simply remove the word "male" and make it an all inclusive law that focuses on "gross indecency" by anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation. That way everyone is subject to the law equally. Then we can leave it up to society to define what it means by the term "gross indecency".

And since both oral and anal sex where decriminalised for the heterosexual community in 2007 that by default means those are already considered a social norm and at least in private would not be considered "gross indecency". Maybe that's a solution everyone can be happy with.

After all, as its stand 377a is a very specific law that according to many articles online, in the newspapers and by senior ministers will no longer be enforced which on the whole makes it pretty useless.

Meanwhile as Gary and Kenneth get ready to file for their appeal they have launched a plea to the public to raise funds for the challenge ahead. Their target of $50,000 was reached in a record 18 hours and at the time of writing stands at $92,000 and growing. That alone speaks volumes for the support the have.

If you would like to contribute to their cause click here

And so is it right or wrong, should they have even begun this challenge? The problem with that question is there's no right time to begin this kind of a challenge. It will always be seen as controversial in the eyes of many. And yet at a time when many countries in the world have already taking steps to legalise same sex marriage one has to wonder just how far behind them Singapore is willing to allow itself to become.

Singapore is keen to attract big businesses to it's shores, and many of those same businesses are becoming more vocal in their support of LGBT inclusion. Many already have written into their HR policies that they will not discriminate based on sexual orientation, and many have already included the same staff benefits for same sex couples as their heterosexual counterparts. In fact inclusion and diversity are the new words in these businesses who are trying to set themselves apart from their competition to attract the best talent. And potential employees are more and more looking to a companies inclusion and diversity policies as it speaks volumes about the company they plan to work for.

So … will Kenneth and Gary's challenge succeed, probably not. At the moment it has to be said that Singapore is a conservative society. But the fact that the challenge has been raised is just as important as it shines a spot light on an issue that ultimately will need to be resolved ....

.... and if nothing else they deserve our applause for that.