When I first decided to go public in cyberspace about why I thought I should become a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), I was warned that I could be perceived as being a little narcissistic. Who else would proclaim their faults to the world and then ask for a job in public service in a country where everyone in public service is supposed to be a paragon of virtue?
I guess they may have a point here. I haven’t achieved much professionally and the less said about my personal life the better. However, after looking at some of the speeches given in by people in the job, I became more confident about wanting this office. I was particularly encouraged by a very clever and morally upright woman. I am talking about Professor Thio-Li-Ann.
Professor Thio Li-Ann is a professor in the faculty of law at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and she was an NMP in out 11th Parliament (from 18 January 2007). Her academic credentials (Oxford and Harvard Law School) are beyond reproach. Whatever you think of her, you have to admit that she is clever and capable and morally upright in her beliefs.
My academic credentials are more humble. I got my bachelor degree in anthropology and communications from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Much to the disgust of my parents, I proceeded to spend my time in the union bar, arguing that I was hard at work observing how culture was being formed over a few pints.
Anyway, I decided to see if I could deconstruct Professor Thio’s most infamous speech. Despite having no legal training, I am confident that I can pick apart her arguments and I believe that if she could be a Nominated Member of Parliament, why can’t I?
Let’s see how I’ve done?
My Responses are marked in red:
377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-An
Two camps championing two distinct criminal law philosophies are polarised over whether to retain or repeal s377A which criminalizes public or private acts of gross indecency between two men, such as sodomy.
This act covers a public and private act.
There is already a law covering public obscenity or if one uses the good professor’s words “Gross Indecency.” So, since there’s already an act in place to cover public acts of “Gross Indecency” what “extra” protection does 377A provide for the public that the existing act does not? If it does not provide us with much needed protection - what is the use of having 377A?
If we are talking about a private act between two consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom, we need to ask ourselves how this law protects us? Is there a public health issue? Is there a national security issue? If we understand the purpose of laws in society as being there to protect vulnerable people - we have to ask ourselves who exactly does this law protect?
The ‘liberal’ camp wants 377A repealed. 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 criminalize something which does not “harm” anyone; if homosexuals are “born that way”, isn’t it unkind to ‘discriminate’ against their sexual practices?
The key question here is why do we need to keep an act that is between two consenting adults criminal? Who does the State protect when it enters and governs activity in the bedroom?
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.
This is an ingenious suggestion - we need a law to govern how two adults behave in the bedroom so that we can protect our liberties. If I am reading the good professor correctly, we need more government regulation to become more free.
The ‘communitarian’ camp argues from ‘community values’ – these social conservatives want 377A retained, to protect public health, morality, decency and order. A Keep 377A online petition attracted over 15,000 signatures after a few days.
How does keeping a private consensual act between two consenting adults protect public health, morality, decency and order? As for the 15,000 signatures it is merely an indication of the good organisation skills of a certain group promoting an agenda.
Like many, I applaud the government’s wisdom in keeping 377A which conserves what upholds the national interest. ‘Conservative’ here is not a dirty word connoting backwardness; environmental conservation protects our habitat; the moral ecology must be conserved to protect what is precious and sustains a dynamic, free and good society.
Once again, how does keeping a private act between consenting adults uphold the national interest. Will there be an outbreak of a nasty virus if two consenting adults do something in the privacy of their bedroom? Will there be a national security issue if two grown-ups do something in the privacy of their bedroom?
The welfare of future generations depends on basing law on sound public philosophy. We should reject the ‘argument from consent’ as its philosophy is intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt.
This is a shockingly disturbing argument from a learned law professor. The key word in laws governing sexual behaviour is “Consent.” Sexual activity requires two or more parties. All parties in the act must be able to provide consent (children and mentally disabled are considered unable to provide it). If you do not have consent from a person who can provide it, then you have a case of sexual assault or rape - something which everyone can agree on as being an act of criminal brutality and therefore morally repugnant.
Sir, the arguments to retain 377A are overwhelmingly compelling and should be fully articulated, to enable legislators to make informed decisions and not be bewitched by the empty rhetoric and emotional sloganeering employed by many radical liberals, which generate more heat than light.
So, what are the compelling arguments?
The real question today is not “if” we should repeal 377A now, or wait until people are ready to move. This assumes too much, as though we need an adjustment period before the inevitable. The real question is not “if” but “should” we ever repeal 377A. It is not inevitable; it is not desirable to repeal it in any event. Not only is retaining s377A sound public policy, it is legally and constitutionally beyond reproach. Responsible legislators must grapple with the facts, figures and principles involved; they cannot discount the noxious social consequences repeal will bring.
What are the noxious social consequences?
Debate must be based on substance not sound-bites. Let me red-flag four red herrings.
Good point – let’s have the substance from the good professor?
First, to say a law is archaic is merely chronological snobbery.
What exactly is chronological snobbery? How is it snobbery to suggest that something which might have worked in 2AD is no longer applicable to 2011AD?
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 s377A is progressive. But that is not our final destination. The onus is on those seeking repeal to prove this will not harm society.
So what exactly is the objective here? What is the objective of keeping a private act between consenting adults criminal? Do we protect anyone? Interesting to note that the good professor has spoken of the onus of those seeking to repeal the act to prove that it does society no harm when she has failed to mention a single group that the law protects?
Third, to say a law which criminalizes 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. The liberal argument which says sodomy is a personal choice, private matter and ‘victimless crime’ merely asserts this. It rests precariously on an idiosyncratic notion of “harm” – but “harm” can be both physical and intangible; victims include both the immediate parties and third parties. What is done in ‘private’ can have public repercussions.
Good point from the professor. Harm can affect both immediate and third parties. Hence we do not encourage smoking because second hand smoke kills third parties. However, despite the overwhelming evidence that smoking causes harm to immediate and third parties it is not a criminal act. So, let’s ask the question - who are the possible third parties who will be harmed so badly that we need the law to step in, in order to protect third parties from two consenting adults doing something in the privacy of their bedroom?
Fourth, some argue that legislators should be ‘open-minded’ and decriminalize sodomy. However, like an open mouth, an open mind must eventually close on something solid. They urge legislators to be ‘objective’ and to leave their personal subjective beliefs at home, especially if they hold religious views which consider homosexuality aberrant.
I don’t have to like homosexuality or homosexuals. I will NEVER want to engage in homosexual sex. I don’t want to think of my male friends engaging and deriving pleasure from it. However, whatever my personal beliefs, I still ask - why is it necessary for someone who does enjoy homosexual sex with a like-minded consenting adult in the privacy of their bedroom to be considered a criminal under the law.
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! As law has a moral basis, we need to consider which morality to legislate. Neither the majority or minority is always right – but there are fundamental values beyond fashion and politics which serve the common good. Religious views are part of our common morality. We separate ‘religion’ from ‘politics,’ but not ‘religion’ from ‘public policy’. That would be undemocratic. All citizens may propose views in public debate, whether influenced by religious or secular convictions or both; only the government can impose a view by law.
We can disapprove of certain acts based on our personal or religious convictions. However, does personal disapproval mean that private acts of totally unrelated consenting individuals should be criminalised by the state?
Incidentally, one does not have to be religious to consider homosexuality contrary to biological design and immoral; secular philosopher Immanuel Kant considered homosexuality “immoral acts against our animal nature” which did not preserve the species and dishonoured humanity.
Kant like the rest of us had his opinions - but still does not answer the question of why it is necessary to criminalise a private act between two consenting adults?
The issues surrounding s377A are about morality, not modernity or being cosmopolitan. What will foreigners think if we retain 377A? Depends on which foreigner you ask. Many would applaud us! Such issues divide other societies as well! The debate is not closed. A group of Canadians1 were grieved enough to issue an online apology to the world “for harm done through Canada‘s legalization of homosexual marriage”, urging us not to repeat their mistakes.
There are people all over the world who don’t like homosexuality, lesbianism and so on. For every group who doesn’t like something there is another who does. The question remains, who does 377A protect and why is it necessary to keep a private act between consenting adults criminal? Whether you like an act does not make it necessary for the state to abolish it. States should only interfere in private acts if it constitutes something like a national disaster....
Singapore is an independent state and we can decide the 377A issue ourselves; we have no need of foreign or neo-colonial moral imperialism in matters of fundamental morality.
There are no constitutional objections to s377A
Sir, there are no constitutional objections to retaining 377A while de-criminalising heterosexual oral and anal sex. Three legal points are worth making.
First, there is no constitutional right to homosexual sodomy. It is not a facet of personal liberty under article 9. Nor is there a human right to homosexual sodomy though some like to slip this in under the umbrella of ‘privacy.’ Human rights are universal, like prohibitions against genocide. Demands for ‘homosexual rights’ are the political claims of a narrow interest group masquerading as legal entitlements. Homosexual activists often try to infiltrate and hijack human rights initiatives to serve their political agenda, discrediting an otherwise noble cause to protect the weak and poor. You cannot make a human wrong a human right.
There is no constitutional right to sodomy full stop! Yet the heterosexual variety is legal while the homosexual is not. Is there is necessary reason for this? This is not about homosexual rights but a question is why it is necessary for one sexual act to be illegal while another one of the same nature remains perfectly legal. Contrary to what the good professor may think, this does become an issue of personal liberty under article 9. The question of why does it remain necessary to criminalise a private act between two consenting adults remains unanswered.
Second, 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 recognized 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 analogy between race and sexual orientation or preferred sexual preferences, is false. Activists repeat the slogan ‘sexual minority’ ad nausem as a deceptive political ploy to get sympathy from people who don’t think through issues carefully. Repetition does not cure fallacy.
This is totally irrelevant. Whether there are ex-blacks, gays, polka dots and so on does not answer the question of why it is necessary to keep a private act between consenting adults criminal.
Science has become so politicized that the issue of whether gays are ‘born that way’ depends on which scientist you ask. You cannot base sound public philosophy on poor politicized pseudo ‘science’.
So, let’s look at the most credible science backed up by the most credible research and see what that says.
Homosexuality is a gender identity disorder; there are numerous examples of former homosexuals successfully dealing with this. Just this year, two high profile US activists left the homosexual lifestyle, the publisher of Venus, a lesbian magazine, and an editor of Young Gay America. Their stories are available on the net. An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.
Professor Thio is a professor of law not a professor of psychology. The American Psychiatric Association would beg to disagree with Professor Thio on the notion of homosexuality.
As for the “ex-gays” - there are people who find their sexuality later in life. Heterosexual men do experiment with homosexuality and women are experiment with both sides. However, for most men, once they find their sexuality they are pretty set in it - they are either homosexual or heterosexual.
Singapore law only recognizes racial and religious minorities. Special protection is reserved for the poor and disadvantaged; the average homosexual person in Singapore is both well educated, with higher income – that’s why upscale condo developers target them! Homosexuals do not deserve special rights, just the rights we all have.
I agree - homosexuals should only have the rights that the rest of us have. So why don’t consenting adult homosexuals have the right to do what they want in the privacy of their bedroom. Isn't this a right that the rest of us have?
‘Sexual minorities’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are vague terms – covering anything from homosexuality, bestiality, incest, paedophilia – do all these minority sexual practices merit protection?
The good professor has twisted the answer by arguing against consent. Sexual practices like bestiality and pedophilia are not protected because animals and children are not considered able to provide consent. It’s been proven that incest does cause harm to third parties (children born out acts of incest). The same cannot be said of homosexuality.
Third, 377A does not breach the article 12 guarantee of equality. While all human persons are of equal worth, not all human behaviour is equally worthy. We separate the actor from the act. In criminalizing acts, we consider the wrongfulness of the act, the harm caused and how it affects the good of society.
So what is the harm caused and the affect on the good of society if two consenting adults do something in the privacy of their bedroom? Revolutions are caused by issues like unemployment and poverty. Revolutions occur because people get tiered of tyranny - of being bullied and dare I say rapped. They do not start revolutions because two consenting adults had consensual sex in the privacy of their bedroom.
Parliament has the power to classify; this involves a choice, like distinguishing murder and manslaughter. Classifications which satisfy the constitutional test of validity are called “differentiation”; only invalid classifications are called “discrimination.” Criminalising same-sex sodomy but not opposite-sex sodomy is valid “differentiation.” S377A does not target any specific actor; it would cover a heterosexual male experimenting with male sodomy.
Fair enough - but then why should people experimenting in the privacy of their bedroom with other consenting adults be penalised as criminals?
Valid classifications must have a clear basis and be rationally related to a legitimate purpose. In serving public health and public morality, 377A passes constitutional muster with flying colours.
Public Health Argument
Sir, public health and safety is a legitimate purpose served by the 377A ban on homosexual anal and oral sex. Both these practices are efficient methods of transmitting sexual diseases and AIDs / HIV which are public health problems. These are not victimless crimes as the whole community has to foot the costs of these diseases.
So all the more reason to ensure that the public is armed with facts.
Anal-penetrative sex is inherently damaging to the body and a misuse of organs, like shoving a straw up your nose to drink. The anus is designed to expel waste; when something is forcibly inserted into it, the muscles contract and cause tearing; fecal waste, viruses carried by sperm and blood thus congregate, with adverse health implications like ‘gay bowel syndrome’, anal cancer. ‘Acts of gross indecency’ under 377A also covers unhygienic practices like “rimming” where the mouth comes into contact with the anus. Consent to harmful acts is no defence – otherwise, our strong anti-drug laws must fall as it cannot co-exist with letting in recreational drugs as a matter of personal lifestyle choice.
Finally! The good professor says something that is scientifically believable. However, what is true of homosexual sodomy and “rimming” is also true of the heterosexual variety. So why is the homosexual variety illegal and the heterosexual one not? If there is a public health argument in criminalising sodomy based on this fact, surely it should apply to both heterosexual and homosexual sex?
Opposite-sex sodomy is harmful, but medical studies indicate that same-sex sodomy carries a higher price tag for society because of higher promiscuity and frequency levels. The New York Times reported that even informed homosexuals return to unsafe practices like bare-backing and bug-chasing after a health crisis wanes. A British Study showed that the legalization of homosexual sodomy correlated with an upsurge of STDs among gays. Common sense tells us that with more acceptance, any form of consensual sexual behaviour increases. Sodomy laws have some deterrent effect.
Wrong! It is not the act of sodomy that marks difference in heterosexual and homosexual sodomy but the issue of higher promiscuity and frequency levels. If I may detract for a bit - Professor Thio has argued that it is necessary to keep homosexual sodomy illegal because it causes diseases amongst a “numerical minority” - so are we to assume she is on a mission to protect homosexuals while leaving heterosexuals to get diseases etc?
It is rational for the state to target the most acute aspect of a problem. The legal issue is not whether the state should be concerned with heterosexual sodomy but whether it is reasonable to believe same-sex sodomy poses a distinct problem. Medical literature indicates that gays have disproportionately higher STDs rates, which puts them in a different category from the general public, warranting different treatment.
Once again - the point remains - it is the higher rates of promescuity that promote the “higher” rates of STDs amongst the homosexual community. The key here is to promote “responsible sex” (monogamy and condom useage) amongst homosexuals (which they are likely to do) rather than ensure that homosexual sodomy remains illegal (the gays will still have annal sex - thus making all public health arguments irrelevant)
Incidentally, if one believes the statistics of the Ministry of Health - HIV/AIDS has long become a heterosexual condition as opposed to one that is specific to the homosexual community. The rates of HIV infection amongst heterosexual men outweighs that of the homosexual and bisexual community. Furthermore heterosexual infections do cause far greater damage in that innocent women (new infections amongst women come from loyal spouses who get it from promiscuous husbands) and its even passed onto children - thus providing far greater “harm” to third parties than homosexual sodomy.
The onus rests on opponents of 377A to negate every conceivable basis for treating homosexual and heterosexual sodomy differently. They cannot, because classifications do not need to be perfect and can be under-inclusive; valid classifications only need to “go some way” to serve the legislative goal, which 377A clearly does.
The science and the understanding of science provided by the good professor on this matter can only be charitably be described as “criminal ignorance.”
Sir, the power to legislate morality is not limited to preventing demonstrable harm. The Penal Code now criminalizes the wounding of both religious and racial feelings (s498).
S377A serves public morality; the argument from community reminds us we share a way of life which gives legal expression to the moral repugnancy of homosexuality. Heterosexual sodomy unlike homosexual sodomy does not undermine the understanding of heterosexuality as the preferred social norm. To those who say that 377A penalizes only gays not lesbians, note there have been calls to criminalize lesbianism too.
We may not like homosexuality but does that mean that a private act between consenting adults should be criminal? Thus far the “public health” argument in favour of keeping 377A falls flat. So what else is the good professor coming up with other than “I don’t like homos therefore what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms should be criminal?”
Public sexual morality must buttress strong families based on faithful union between man and wife, the best model for raising children. The state should not promote promiscuity nor condone sexual exploitation. New section 376D criminalizes the organisation of child sex tours. Bravo.
Bravo for this sound piece of wisdom. So, shouldn’t the good professor turn her considerable energies to criminalising marital rape, child abuse and domestic violence and dare I say heterosexual adultery. These causes will help strengthen the concept of a strong family than stopping the “numerical minority” of homosexuals from doing things to each other in the privacy of their bedroom.
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 license 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.
How did she work this one out? What defines perversity here? Is perversity criminality? Obviously the answer is no. We are not talking about assault and the removal of the ability to give consent. I may not like certain sexual acts. I don’t want to participate in them or to see or hear about them. However, do I believe that two people who do like those acts should be criminalised for engaging in them in the privacy of their bedroom?
Radical individualism would demand decriminalising consensual adult incest; but the Penal Code is not based on consent as s376F reflects. The state has always retained an interest in regulating conduct in the bedroom – the issue is which type?
Wrong. The argument from consent strictly applies to people who have the ability to provide it and that it does not cause harm to third parties. The science thus far shows incest does while homosexual sex is limited to immediate parties.
Radical egalitarianism applied to sexual morality says the state should not morally distinguish between types of consensual sex. It exudes a false neutrality but actually sneaks in a substantive philosophy: Hedonism which breeds narcissism. This extols satisfying desire without restraint as a matter of autonomy. But some desires are undesirable, harming self and society.
If one applies this argument, it is also applicable to heterosexual as well as homosexual sex. Given HIV statistics, one might argue that the message of restraint should be focused on the heterosexual rather than homosexual community.
The argument from consent ultimately celebrates sexual libertine values, the fruit of which is sexual licentiousness, a culture of lust, which takes, rather than love, which gives. This social decline will provoke more headlines like a 2004 Her World article called: “Gay guy confesses: I slept with 100 men…one of them could be your hubby.” What about the broken-hearts involved?
There’s Annabel Chong who was proudly penetrated 250 times by 70 men. How is that different from the 2004 “Gay Guy” that Professor Thio has cited? Ones sexual habbits are unrelated to ones sexual orientation. As Annabel Chong has shown there are promiscuous heterosexuals and there are actually very monogomous homosexuals. Professor Thio's headline is equally applicable to heterosexual men and women and it still does not constitute a legal, reasonable answer as to why two consenting adults cannot do as they please in the privacy of their bedroom.
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.
Adultery is hurtful yet people do it. Is it criminal? No. Why? Shouldn’t we criminalise adultery to save society from selfish and hurtful consequences?
The issues raised in the Petition fall apart on rigorous analysis.
Rule of Law vs. Rule of Good Law
Sir, government policy is not to pro-actively enforce 377A. Some argue that just keeping this law on the books will erode the rule of law. I disagree. It is not turning a blind eye on the existence of homosexuals here; it is refusing to celebrate homosexuality while allowing gays to live quiet lives. This is prudent, as it is difficult to enforce ‘bedroom’ offences; such intrusive powers should be judiciously used anyway.
This lies on the faulty assumption that the government of the day will remain wise and benevolent in its use of certain powers. I’m with the guys who said, “In God we trust - everyone else pays cash.”
How does it not erode the rule of law if you have a law and then declare that you will not use it? Not only should laws protect someone - they should be enforceable and enforced when they are breached. If they are not they are redundant.
We have other hard-to-police laws which embody communal standards of public decency, such as laws against nudity visible to the public eye, even if you are at home. Law is a Moral teacher and makes a moral statement; 6 years ago, Singapore symbolically blocked access to 100 porn sites, as a ‘statement of our values.’ We value our values, while remaining realistic.
Visible nudity to the public eye does cause “harm” to a third party. Sexual behaviour in the privacy of the bedroom does not. There is an argument to suggest that pornography can damage minors. There is no suggestion that private acts in the bedroom do the same.
A non pro-active policy does not mean 377A will never be enforced – who knows what another season may require? Policies can change.
Sir, citizens are not just concerned with the rule of law but with the rule of good law. Laws which violate core moral values will alienate many and bring the system into disrepute. Indeed, many citizens see keeping 377A as evidence the government is defending the right moral values, which lends legitimacy.
Keeping 377A is evidence that the government wants clauses to get political opponents if they don’t have anything else to get them on. This is not necessary - that what ISA is meant for.
Incidentally we are also concerned with being governed by silly laws, which could be randomly applied to catch out the vulnerable from unfair prosecution.
Criminalising Moral Wrongs – which?
Sir, it is true that not all moral wrongs, such as adultery, are criminalized; yet they retain their stigma. But adulterers know they done wrong and do not lobby for toleration of adultery as a sexual orientation right.
No, not all adulterers believe they are doing wrong. Nobody lobbies for adultery as a sexual orientation right because it is not a criminal offense.
Homosexual Agenda and Social Consequences
Conversely, homosexual activists lobby hard for a radical sexual revolution, waging a liberal fundamentalist crusade against traditional morality. They adopt a ‘step by step’ approach to hide how radical the agenda is. Liberals never ask: what happens next if you repeal 377A. Responsible legislators must see the Big Picture.
Traditional morality will remain whatever the law says. The Bible, Koran etc have not changed despite all the legislation that sometimes contravenes what certain Holy Books preach. Truly devout adherents will continue with their beliefs.
Whether I believe in the morality of homosexuality is irrelevant. What matters is whether two people who are consenting adults can do as they please in the privacy of their bedrooms no matter what anyone else thinks. I may not like sodomy but I don't believe that fact should make someone I don't know a criminal because they do something I don't like in the privacy of their bedroom.
Pro-gay academics identify 5 main steps in this agenda in their study of foreign jurisdictions.
Step 1: repeal laws criminalizing homosexual sex. They consider this “pivotal” to advancing the homosexual agenda. Why? Without this, they cannot advance in the public sphere or push for government funding and support for special programmes, such as the New York Gay High School. Governments don’t promote criminal activities. You need to change the criminal law before changing civil law.
If I am reading this correctly, she is saying, “We cannot allow two consenting adults to do something in the privacy of their bedroom because they may one days ask for money from the tax payer.”
There are two separate issues here. One is should we keep a private act between two consenting adults criminal. The other is about asking for government support for funding of programs. Let’s deal with two separate issues at a time.
But decriminalizing sodomy is only the tip of the iceberg which is 1/8 of an ice mass – we must see what lies beneath the water to avoid a Titanic fate.
Step 2 is to equalize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex; in some countries, this is as low as 13. Do we want to expose Sec 1 boys to adult sexual predators? To be sexually creative?
We don’t want to expose 13-year old girls to sexual predators either. Age of consent in Singapore remains way above 13 and I think the issue here is about the age of consent not about annal sex. The solution is to raise the age of consent. As of the time of writing, young girls are being exposed to sexual predators through human trafficking - I wonder if the good professor has an issue with that?
Furthermore the issue is not the age of consent. The issue remains the legality of whether consenting adults can do as they please in the privacy of their bedrooms.......Nobody agrees with the age of consent for boys and girls being 13. We are debating the issue of why it is necessary to criminalise a private act between two consenting adults. Nobody has said anything about age of consent –
Step 3 is to prohibit discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation’. But would this not include all sexual behaviour? “Sex before 8 or else it’s too late” is the motto of the North American Man Boy Love Association. Should we judge pedophilia or be relativist and promote “anything goes” sexual experimentation?
Keep the age of consent at an adult age and you no longer have the issue of legalising paedophilia.
Sir, to protect homosexuals, some countries have criminalized not sodomy but opposition to sodomy, making it a ‘hate crime’ to criticize homosexuality. This violates freedom of speech and religion; will sacred texts that declare homosexuality morally deviant, like the Bible and Koran, be criminalized? Social unrest beckons. Such assaults on constitutional liberties cannot be tolerated.
The same can be said of “anti-semitism.” Why is it a jail able offence in some countries to suggest that Hitler may have killed 5,999,999 instead of 6 million Jews? Censorship of debate only bottles up a genie waiting to explode with a vengeance.
Steps 4 and 5 relate to legalizing same-sex marriage or partnerships, child adoption rights. This subverts both marriage and family, which are institutions homosexuals seek to redefine beyond recognition. Will MOE then commission a book copying the US “Heather has 2 mummies” called “Ah Beng has 2 daddies?” What if parents disagree with their kids studying homosexual propaganda?
Is legalizing same-sex marriage progressive? It is if you want a genderless planet where “husband” and “wife” are considered discriminatory terms, to be replaced by “spouse”.
I am surprised Professor Thio is against Gay Marriages. She has argued that the gay community suffers from a high rate of STDs because of their greater promiscuity. Surely, she would want the homosexual community to be tied down into the monogamy of marriage.
Incidentally, it was a Catholic Priest who pointed out that “Marriage” does not make people faithful to each other. Married men continue to keep Geylang’s business recession proof.
We want to be able to say, Majullah Singapura, not Mundur Singapura!
Repealing 377A will further batter the institution of ‘marriage’ which we must bolster! This is because the arguments raised to challenge a distinction between heterosexual and homosexual sodomy, equally apply to challenge legal distinctions between lawful heterosexual marriage between man and wife and unlawful homosexual unions.
We do not recognise homosexual marriage. What about unmarried heterosexual couples. Are these couples unlawful?
To reinforce the moral foundations of a pro-family policy that permits only heterosexuals to marry, it is permissible to differentiate between heterosexual and homosexual sodomy. To say that 377A discriminates is effectively to say that marriage laws discriminate and are unconstitutional.
What exactly is the link between marriage and sodomy? Is her argument - heterosexual marriage is legal and therefore a heterosexual man can penetrate a woman's annus despite all the obvious public health hazzards of sodomy while homosexual marriage is not legal and therefore homosexuals cannot have sex. The good professor is doing the legal fraternity a diservice if she assumes heterosexuals have sex only when they are married .....how about the unmarried heterosexuals having sex. Are they in the same camp as the homosexuals or the heterosexuals? Where exactly does marriage fit into the equation of whether we should distinguish between hetero and homosexual sodomy?
Legalising sodomy would set a bad example; by signaling approval, it may change both attitude and conduct; coupled with sexual hedonism, it makes a mockery of strong family values. 377A helps to protect against this harm.
Which sodomy are we walking about here? What is the argument? How does allowing homosexuals to have sex in the privacy of their bedrooms undermine family values? There is no evidence to suggest that allowing homosexuals to do certain things in the privacy of their bedrooms will undermine how the family functions. Take for example the average family of one father, mother, son and daughter. The “down side” is the son is a homosexual and has a homosexual partner. What does this mean? The parents can accept this or they don’t. The son will either continue to function as part of the family or he will cut his ties and live his life accordingly.
When you think about this, this is no different than if the son marries a girl. His parents either like, love and accept the girl. Or they don’t - and so the son leaves the family to be elsewhere. There is no hard evidence to specify that it was the particular fact of the son being a homosexual that undermined this particular family.
Academic supporters of the homosexual agenda like my colleague Michael Hor argued online that even if 377A was not enforced, discriminatory policies against homosexuals could be built on the logic of its existence. But taking his logic, repealing 377A would mean the government would be less able to resist claims for homosexual marriage or for promoting homosexuality as a desirable lifestyle in schools, as this would be ‘discriminatory’.These foreign developments warn us that the advance of the homosexual agenda here is not remote.
To slouch back to Sodom is to return to the Bad Old Days in ancient Greece or even China where sex was utterly wild and unrestrained, and homosexuality was considered superior to man-women relations. Women’s groups should note that where homosexuality was celebrated, women were relegated to low social roles; when homosexuality was idealized in Greece, women were objects not partners, who ran homes and bore babies. Back then, whether a man had sex with another man, woman or child was a matter of indifference, like one’s eating preferences. The only relevant category was penetrator and penetrated; sex was not seen as interactive intimacy, but a doing of something to someone. How degrading.
Victorian England had something similar. Women were to be seen and not heard. Homosexuality was not celebrated yet women were regarded as property - when a woman married her property went to her husband.
Polygamous societies were not much better. If I’m not wrong, you can be punished by death for being a homosexual but you can have a thousand wives whom you treat as property.
To link women’s rights and position in society to homosexuality is ingenious but faulty.
It was only when marriage was invented by the Jewish Torah that the genie of sexual impulses was forced into the marital bottle, so that sex no longer dominated society – this discipline provided the social base for the development of western civilization.
The concept of marriage existed long before the Jewish people. What the Jews tried to do was to create a concept of monogamy. However, one should note that the Jews were fairly open with the concept of mistresses. Abraham the Patriarch of the Jewish and Arab people had a wife called Sarah but a “Mistress” called Hagar. Incidentally is Professor Thio suggesting that Western Civilisation is superior to others?
Homosexuals as fellow citizens have the right to expect decent treatment from the rest of us; but they have no right to insist we surrender our fundamental moral beliefs so they can feel comfortable about their sexual behaviour. We should not be subject to the tyranny of the undemocratic minority who want to violate our consciences, trample on our cherished moral virtues and threaten our collective welfare by imposing homosexual dogma on right-thinking people. Keep 377A.
It is possible to separate a dislike for homosexuals from the desire to make homosexual acts illegal. The good professor has failed to show a single credible legal reason as to why two consenting adults have to be criminalised for their behaviour in the privacy of their bedroom. Allowing two consenting adults to do something in the privacy of their bedroom is not an imposition on us to surrender our fundamental values and beliefs. She has failed to indentify who the law protects and what harm repealing it would cause.
The argument that many people dislike homosexuality and therefore acts of consenting homosexual sex should be made illegal is what you would consider fitting for a playground and not a parliament or court of law. Professor Thio has failed to show a sound logical and legal reason as to why it is necessary to keep a consenting act between consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom criminal. How can any logical and reasonable person of sound mind keep 377A on the statuette books based on her arguments?
Democracy and Debate
Sir, we Singaporeans will continue to debate and disagree over controversial moral issues as they arise. We should make substantive arguments and not think with our feelings; the media should present both sides fairly, without bias.
However, I have noted a disturbing phenomenon over the 377A debate– the argument by insult. Instead of reasoning, some have resorted to name-calling to intimidate and silence their opponents. People with principled moral objections to the homosexual agenda are tarred and feathered ‘homophobes’, ‘bigots’, to shut them up. This strategy is unoriginally imported from foreign gay activists, which stifles creative thinking and intellectual enquiry.
I don't think this is restricted to the debate on homosexuality. Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in many European nations. As awful as it may be, I believe criminalising debate is not the way to go. The only way to question views is to challenge them with evidence.
When you shout, full of sound and fury, and call your opponents nasty names, this terminates public debate. No one wants to be called a bigot. But think about it – if I oppose incest, am I an incestophobe? If I oppose alcoholism, am I a winophobe? If having an opinion means you are bigoted, then we are all bigots! What is your phobia?
Well, if you display an irrational fear of something it is not unreasonable to conclude that you have a phobia of something. Professor Thio has been thus far irrational in her views of homosexuals and therefore one can reasonably assume she is homophobic.
Where certain liberals accuse their opponents of being intolerant, they demonstrate their own intolerance towards their opponents! They are hoist on their own petard, guilty of everything they accuse their detractors of!
One of my colleagues, a young professor, suffered these vicious tactics when the Straits Times published an article this May where Yvonne Lee argued against repealing 377A. This well-researched, cogent article so incensed homosexual activists that they flooded her with a torrent of abusive, lewd emails and wrote to her head of department calling for her to be removed from her job. This appeared to be a co-ordinated campaign.
We academics are used to disagreement, but why write to her employer and threaten her livelihood? Why vilify someone and seek to assassinate their personal and professional reputation? I hope the House joins me in deploring these malicious attacks which also assault academic freedom. She is owed an apology. I would be ashamed to belong to any academic institution that cravenly bowed down to such disgraceful bully-boy tactics.
Same can be said for a parliament that saw listened to an argument filled with irrational statements and yet proceeded to bow down to the forces of irrationality and proceeded to mock the concept of the rule of law in a country that prides itself in legal transparency.
This August, I had my own experience with this sort of hysterical attack. I received an email from someone I never met, full of vile and obscene invective which I shall not repeat, accusing me of hatemongering. It cursed me and expressed the wish to defile my grave on the day 377A was repealed.
I believe in free debate but this oversteps the line. I was distressed, disgusted, upset enough to file a police report. Does a normal person go up to a stranger to express such irrational hatred?
Smear tactics indicate the poor quality of debate and also, of character. Let us have rational debate, not diatribe, free from abusive rhetoric and tantrum-throwing. As Singapore approaches her Jubilee, My hope for the post-65 generation is that we will not become an uncivil civil society borne from an immature culture of vulgarity which celebrates the base, not the noble.
I’m sorry you had to suffer abuse. Then again, such is life in the public eye. If you can’t take it ..
I speak, at the risk of being burned at the stake by militant activists. But if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. I was raised to believe in speaking out for what is right, good and true, no matter the cost. It is important in life not only to have a Brain, but a Spine.
One of my favourite speeches by PM Lee, which I force my students to read, is his Harvard Club speech 2 years ago where he urged citizens not to be “passive bystanders” in their own fate but to debate issues with reason and conviction. I took this to heart. To forge good policy, we need to do our homework and engage in honest debate on the issues. Let us also speak with civility, which cannot be legislated, but draws deep from our character and upbringing. Before government can govern man, man must be able to govern himself.
Well Said.....So why don’t we allow people who can govern themselves to do as they please in the privacy of their bedroom?
Sir, let speaking in the public square with reason, passion, honesty, civility, even grace, be the mark of a Citizen of Singapore.