Everything about 377A summarized into a “comprehensive” nutshell for Singaporean readers

*Disclaimer*

Other than factual points and online / news content listed out in this post, the personal views I have shared are that of my own, and are not affiliated to any religious, political, civil group, or institution. Feel free to give your criticism if you feel any of my points raised are lacking, or inaccurate.

Validity and accuracy of content taken from news articles / online sources are also up to reader’s discretion.

Content Page

  1. History of authoritative actions taken on LGBTQ-377A related activities/venues
  2. Section 377A (e.g. Penal code, constitutional challenges)
  3. Parliamentary views on LGBTQ community and their rights
  4. Evidence to show that PM Lee may be secretly pro-LGBTQ
  5. Opposition Parties views on LGBTQ community and their rights
  6. *My personal take on the relevance of the 377A penal code
  7. Can homosexual couples marry, and adopt under civil law in Singapore?
  8. *9 possible reasons the government will not repeal 377A anytime soon 
  9. *How can society progress and mature, while ensuring social harmony between the pluralistic communities?
  10. Afterthoughts
  11. 2 good educational reads / Research links

 

History of authoritative actions taken on LGBTQ-377A related activities/venues

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Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State, Singapore, by Lynette J. Chua (2014) is a 168-page volume based on in-depth interviews with gay activists here and government statements and media reports on the LGBT issue. It looks at the LGBT movement’s emergence, development and strategies, and how the roles of law and rights play out in the process.

*You can borrow the book at the public library

To quote a short part from the book:

“..the early 1990s proved to be a hostile time to be gay in Singapore. The police frequently raided gay businesses and entrapped gay men at popular cruising grounds. HIV/AIDs and gay activists believe that police persecution intensified after the first case of an HIV/AIDS-related death was reported in Singapore in 1987, and the government identified gay men as a high-risk group. Even lesbian bars were affected. A nightclub that hosted a monthly all-women’s party was forced to shut down. It did not help that a local newspaper had portrayed the parties as violent events in which women fought over each other….

In November 1993, the police carried out the most infamous entrapment operations of gay men. They arrested twelve men along Fort Road in the Tanjung Rhu district, a popular cruising ground, and local newspapers published the names, personal details, and photographs of those who were arrested. To this day, that operation remains the incident to which activists refer as “the Tanjung Rhu arrests.”..

While both men and women recall incidents of police intrusion on gay businesses often associated with illegal drug use, they consistently point out in their interviews that entrapment has ceased since 1994. The observation concurs with the absence of court judgments and the decline in media reports since mid-1990s.

History of authoritative actions taken on LGBTQ-377A related activities/venues from 1993 onwards

[*Do note the list is not exhaustive. (Validity of online accounts/news are up to readers discretion)]

  1. Gay discos (used to experience) occasional police raids, the most well-known of which occurred at Rascals on 30 May 1993, where policemen shouted rudely at patrons. A gay lawyer who was present – later enlisted the support of 21 other gay professionals in writing a letter of complaint to the Chief of Police.. they received an apology. This was the last documented case of police harassment at gay discos for many years to come.
  1. (In the 1990s), complaints made by the public about public cruising led to police entrapment raids. Youthful and attractive undercover cops would pose as gay cruisers. The moment they were fondled by their targets, the latter would be arrested for outrage of modesty. Their names and mugshots were occasionally published in the press. The most publicized case was in November 1993 – Tanjung Rhu arrests of 12 gay men. All were punished with three strokes of the cane and prison sentences ranging from 2 to 6 months.
  1. 23 July 2001 – 2 men arrested by 3 undercover police (who posted as customers) after one party admitted that they were having sex  – after being asked to leave their cubicle, and confronted by an officer. The charges were amended from section 377A, to Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act which prohibits “riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour in any public road or in any public place.”, and each fined S$600 (US$364).
  1. 14 April 2005 – 4 men arrested at sauna located near Bugis area for engaging in sexual activity in a dark room – after police arrived at the gay sauna for a routine fire inspection.
  1. August 2006Political apoplexy and police priorities (Yawning Bread)
  1. August 2007Police declare joggers an “illegal assembly” (Yawning Bread) / Shame on the Police (MrWangsayso)
  1. 25 August 2008 – police raid at a gay sauna named One Seven but no patrons were arrested.
  1. 2010Mr Tan Eng Hong was caught, and charged for having oral sex with another man in a public toilet under 377A.

What does Section 377A of the Penal Code says?

377A.  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.

Did any public individuals tried to file a constitutional challenge against Section 377A before?

Yes.

Both their cases were separately heard – and dismissed – by High Court Judge Quentin Loh (in 2013). Their appeals were heard together in July (2014).

*377A enacted when social norms were different: Gay couple’s lawyer (TODAY, 16 July 2014)

*Blogger Alex Au found guilty of court contempt for one of two articles (ST, 22 Jan 2015):

Blogger and gay rights activist Alex Au has been found guilty of court contempt for an online article in which he implied that the Chief Justice was partial in relation to constitutional challenges mounted against Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Parliamentary views on LGBTQ community and their rights e.g. 377A

What the then Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Ms Janice Koh had said during the press conference before Pink Dot 2014:

I think it’s a matter of time before 377A is repealed. The issue was debated in parliament and I believe that government legislation will change, but only when more Singaporeans signal their acceptance and readiness for that change. When Pink Dot no longer needs to exist is the day, we will see when LGBT people have been included and counted and accepted. But I think the reason why it even exist is just to get more people to understand and to see this from a view and to open their eyes, and open their hearts and their minds, that’s all it is.

According to (LGBT history in Singapore, Wikipedia):

The first time a Cabinet Minister had publicly quoted scientific findings about homosexuality was Minister of State for Health – Balaji Sadasivan, an neurosurgeon (2002):

‘Research has also shown that the brain of homosexuals is structurally different from heterosexuals. It is likely therefore that the homosexual tendency is imprinted in the brain in utero and homosexuals must live with the tendencies that they inherit as a result of the structural changes in their brain. Within the moral and cultural constraints of our society, we should be tolerant of those who may be different from most of us.’

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was quoted as saying in 7 July 2003 during a Time Asia magazine interview:

“So let it evolve, and in time the population will understand that some people are born that way. We are born this way and they are born that way, but they are like you and me.” He also stated that though homosexual acts remained illegal in Singapore, gay people would now be allowed to serve in ‘sensitive positions’ in the civil service.

Taken from Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going (2011) where LKY was being interviewed on his thoughts on homosexuality:

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Q: Within the Singapore Cabinet, when there are discussions on issues, to what extent do the ministers’ religious beliefs influence the positions they take, for example, on moral issues – casinos, homosexuality and so on? Does that ever come up?

A: They’re modern thinking people. This is the reality of the society, we decide what is in our interest and how the people will react. Homosexuality will eventually be accepted. It’s already accepted in China. It’s a matter of time before it’s accepted here. I don’t see the grassroots being converted to Christianity. If the grassroots are converted, and it’s total. Then we become a different society.

What is the government’s current stance on Section 377A of the Penal Code?

When Singapore’s government submitted its human rights report to the United Nations (UN) in October 2015, they stated that retaining Section 377A was a “carefully considered and finely balanced decision”. 

As segments of multi-religious Singapore “continue to hold strong views against homosexuality”, the government hopes to “accommodate the sensitivities of different communities..for all to exist harmoniously together”.

 It was also noted that Section 377A is not proactively enforced, and all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, are free to lead their lives and pursue their activities in their private space without fear or violence or personal insecurity.” (CNA, 12 Dec 2015)

Earlier in February 2016 this year, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli expressed his thoughts on the role of the Government in religious and racial issues:

  • Give-and-take approach to maintain societal harmony

The Government did not budge on (the tudung and gay issue) matter. If we begin to budge, we know that there are groups who cannot recognise the consequences of having the freedom to do whatever they want, just like the other religions.

We have remained as a harmonious society not because every community is given its rights, but because each community has sacrificed something that is very precious to them for the sake of that harmony.  

Hence..we must be wise.. think long and hard,..go with those who are learned in these matters. What is the religious issue, its impact on religion, its social impact, its impact on society and so on?

Ministers’ take on Wear White

Tharman vs Yaacob: Both issued platitudes about the online campaign to wear white, but who said it better? (Mothership.sg, 22 June 2014)

Be big-hearted, avoid dividing society: Dr Yaacob (ST, 21 June 2014)

Dr Yaacob said Muslims had always supported the institution of the family and this was something they would want to continue doing. “Yet, we also recognise that we live in a multicultural society where there are bound to be differences in opinion and people have their own choices,”..”We respect that.”…he preferred taking a “gentle” approach in dealing with differences, through consultation and accommodation…”Ultimately, what we want to do is to avoid dividing society or dividing the community..Let us find the big-heartedness that we have to accommodate differences that exist in any society.”

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also spoke on the issue, saying that in matters of religion and personal preferences, people have to “exercise a sense of balance and restraint”. He said: “I think we just have to be a society where you don’t go pushing your own beliefs and preferences, but at the same time everyone else keeps the balance in society and avoids creating conflict.”

Evidence to show that PM Lee may be secretly pro-LGBTQ (like his father LKY)

“You should have seen Lee Hsien Loong’s face when he caught sight of Kim. He smiled in glee and broke out in rapturous applause. (Actually, he did this for every other contingent too, but that’s beside the point.)” – Quoted directly from Roy Tan

PM Lee was invited on 6 June 2015 to attend Pink Dot.

Post-Pink Dot: PM Lee wore pink in an updated Facebook profile photo on 15 June 2015, and on 14 June 2015, he wore a pink shirt under his jacket in a photo. Pink Dot was held on 13 June 2015 that year. (SMOng, 16 June 2015)

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If you look at PM’s Lee FB page on 7 June 2016, he wore a pink tie at a forum on the night of 6 June (Mon), which was 2 days after Pink Dot (held on June 4 2016). And posted on 9 June 2016 in his FB page, is him in his classic pink T-shirt.

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But having look through his FB page, pink might just happens to be a colour he likes to wear? But you’ll never know 😉

PM Lee possibly has the same mindset as his father. Both father and son 1) do not seem to have any specific religious affiliation (*though LKY did say that he is a nominal Buddhist), 2) and both understand the importance of not rocking the boat too hard when it comes to religious matters between the plural communities. So Atheists, do not get so hard up when PM Lee made the “godless society” comment. He is actually one of your kind too if you don’t even realise haha, just that he most likely had to consider our inter-religious society when replying in that manner;)

Opposition Parties views on LGBTQ community and their rights

Taken from Sporelgbtmedia/shout.wiki.com:

PAP MPs for the repeal of Section 377A (3 in the list)

PAP MPs against the repeal of Section 377A (11 in the list)

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Workers’ Party politicians’ views on homosexuality (*Against repeal of 377A)

  • WP did not call for an abolition of 377A, while one of it’s politician Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap said on 2 July 2014 that he backed the wear white movement in his personal capacity “as a Muslim individual”, and it has nothing to do with the party stand.

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Singapore Democratic Party politicians’ views on homosexuality (*For repeal of 377A)

Reform Party politicians’ views on homosexuality (all 3 in the list are pro-LGBTQ)

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Food to thought: From the above, it’s interesting to note that for 2 of the more prominent opposition parties (WP and SDP) – each have a Malay-Muslim member openly stating their anti-LGBTQ view. Thus, I’m curious to find out the LGBTQ stance of any of the Malay-Muslim members from Reform Party?

 My personal take on the relevance of the 377A penal code

PM Lee’s response when asked about the current LGBT issue (TODAY, 5 June 2015): “There are gay groups in Singapore, there are gay people in Singapore and they have a place to stay here and we let them live their own lives. And we do not harass them or discriminate against them.”

It was also noted that Section 377A “is not proactively enforced, and all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, are free to lead their lives and pursue their activities in their private space without fear or violence or personal insecurity.” (CNA, 12 Dec 2015)

What I inferred from the government’s message – that 377A it not “proactively enforced” is that – 2 men are allowed to have sex “without fear of violence or personal insecurity” as long as they do it in their own “private space” e.g. homes. They will be criminalized only if they are found doing it in public spaces e.g. sauna, public toilet.

According to an local article – Couples who have sex in public risk breaking the law. Criminal lawyers said that – as long as the act is visible to the public, the ones involved in the act could be prosecuted as long as someone sees it and makes a complaint… It cannot be held to be an indecent act if it is not visible. As long as it’s discreet and done behind ‘closed doors’, then it’s okay.” (AsiaOne, 25 Sept 2013)

And in our existing laws:

Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act
(CHAPTER 184)

Part III Other Offences

Riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour in, or in the immediate vicinity of, certain places

  1. Any person who is found guilty of any..indecent behaviour in any public road or in any public place, or place of public amusement or resort, or in the immediate vicinity of, or in, any court, public office, police station or place of worship, shall be guilty of an offence…

Part IV Vagrancy

Appearing nude in public or private place

27A.—(1)  Any person who appears nude —

(a) in a public place; or (b) in a private place and is exposed to public view, shall be guilty of an offence…

Concluding Analysis

Since gay sex in “private spaces” are allowed [*as seen from “Regardless of their sexual orientation, (everyone is) free to lead their lives and pursue their activities in their private space without fear or violence or personal insecurity.”]; and we already have adequate laws which prosecute sex that is “visible to the public” (*between individuals of any orientation), keeping 377A is of no necessity, and merely seeks to show the current discrimination against the specific gay community (since there was never an equivalent penal code for lesbians).

Some may ask – what about gay sex in a sauna? Isn’t it a public space, but also within the discreet privacy of an indoor compound? I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t answer.  It’s most likely considered a quasi-public venue, but I personally would view it as a public space, and consider it as – public sex. If the police had raided the place because there was a complaint made by the general public who saw with their own eyes 2 men having sex, I feel the 2 men should indeed should be charged for engaging in public sex which is against the law as seen below in

Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act:

  1. Any person who is found guilty of any indecent behaviour in any public road or in any public place or place of public amusement or resort, or in the immediate vicinity of, or in, any court, public office, police station or place of worship, shall be guilty of an offence…

They should not be charged under 377A.

In 23 July 2001 – where 2 men were arrested by 3 undercover police who posted as customers after one party admitted that they were having sex after being asked to leave their cubicle and confronted by an officer. The charges were amended from section 377A, to Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act which prohibits “riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour in any public road or in any public place.”, and each fined S$600 (US$364).

If we compare the above 23 July 2001 case to another 2010 case – where Mr Tan Eng Hong was caught, and charged for having oral sex with another man in a public toilet under 377A, – why was Mr Tan’s charges not amended to Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, like the 23 July 2001 case?

Does this mean we can cherry-pick from 2 penal codes to prosecute – gay sex in public?

As such, this shows we can easily take out 377A since it is no longer relevant with our adequate penal code – Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.

If I’m a gay man that knowingly goes to a gay sauna, and see 2 gay men having sex in a dark room, what are the chances that I will call up the police to make a complain? Some might, some might not. And there’s nothing wrong in calling up the police (as mentioned above).  But let’s just say there was no complaint made in the first place, but the police had still raided the gay sauna nonetheless, it does bring up the question of whether 377A is indeed “not proactively enforced”?

Can homosexual couples in Singapore marry?

No. Civil law does not allow it.

Can homosexual couples in Singapore adopt?

 Even though it is technically not legal , it is possible if you fulfil a set of requirements (*Click HERE to view the requirements)

According to an article:

“…gay parents do exist in Singapore. I’ve met them. Some are locals and some are expats; some conceived their kids and some adopted them. (Surprisingly, it’s possible to get a license to adopt here even if you’re openly gay.)”

For pleasure reading: A blog about same-sex parenting, relationships & life hacking in Singapore

[9 possible reasons the government will not repeal 377A anytime soon]

#1 A perceived link between gays and – promiscuity, pedophilia, and higher HIV/Aids rates

A cursory visit to gay forums such as blowingwind.org has shown that there are numerous gay men who visit public pools as a playground for them to engage each other in public premises. As reported in the media, numerous individuals have engaged in reckless sexual activities with under-aged boys. What kind of values are we thus promoting when we accept these homosexuals as equals? (TOC, 16 May 2016)

*My additional thoughts*

Like how religious groups condemn terrorist acts done by minorities in their community, it is also important for the LGBT community to do likewise in regards to the issue of pedophilia, so that the perception that pedophilia as an umbrella under the LGBT community will not be inaccurately manifested into the general community. The same to be said for the religious leaders of the Catholic Church and the Hasidic Jews community who have reported cases of child abuse.

To go off point a for awhile..

(This is under no scientific basis) I view pedophilia as an orientation, that some adults may have sexual and/or romantic desires towards children. I feel that as a society, we should give pedophiles an outlet of rehabilitative/community support e.g. understand their situation, reasons, struggles, and have those with the trained skills help them manage/control their sexual desires, instead of merely ostracizing pedophiles as social deviants. This avenue will help both – the pedophiles, while also preventing children from being harmed in the long run. It’s a better alternative than doing nothing.

We provide rehabilitation programmes or/and support groups for those with disabiltiies, LGBTQ community, individuals with mental illness, ex-convicts, terrorists, delinquent juveniles, gambling addicts, so why is the same effort not given to cannibals, pedophiles (there are existing programmes, but they are corrective, and not preventive in nature), and killers? When the latter is provided, that is only when we can call ourselves an inclusive society.

Back to the topic…

Let’s take a look at Singapore’s HIV/Aids statistics for the first half of 2015 (MOH, 2015):

*New HIV/Aids cases among gays highest in seven years (ST, 3 June 2016)

*232 new HIV/Aids cases among homosexuals last year, a 27.5 per cent increase from 2014 and the highest number going back to 2009.(ST, 23 June 2016)

*Voluntary HIV screening rate in Singapore “extremely worrying”: Action for Aids (CAN, 9 June 2016)

From these above statistics, are they significant enough to conclude that gays are the main contributing community to the HIV/AIDs? Or should we explore more factors, and possible reasons that leads to these findings, which will allow us to have a broader picture of the whole scenario?

#2 Serious backlash from Muslim and Christian Community, which could affect country’s societal harmony 

Muslim Community

A sermon from MUIS on homosexuality (yawning bread, Aug 2003)

Religious teacher launches ‘wear white’ online campaign (ST, 20 June 2014)

Singapore Islamic Scholars & Religious Teachers Association – Pergas (20 June 2014) – Pergas’ Irsyad on attending an event that supports transgression eg event which supports the movement or lifestyle of the LGBT

MUIS urges mosques not to take confrontational stand on LGBT lifestyles (TODAY, 21 June 2014)

Muslims should not attend LGBT-related events: Islamic group (TODAY, 21 June 2014)

Mosques told not to get caught in LGBT crossfire (AsiaOne, 23 June 2014)

6 episodes done up by wear white FB page responding to arguments made by pro-LGBT Muslims (28 May – 3 June 2016)

Catholic Community

Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Catholic Church’s Position on Sexuality (9 Mar 2014)

Be inclusive: Catholic Archbishop (AsiaOne, 16 May 2014)

Catholic Church discourages LGBT relationships but decries discrimination (ST, 22 June 2014)

Pastoral Letter To Catholics With Same-sex Orientation (Catholic News, 13 July 2014)

Archbishop apologises for “insensitivity” in earlier statement on LGBT issues (AsiaOne, 13 July 2014)

Christian Community

Refusal to allow pro-family event at Padang puzzling: Lawrence Khong (TODAY, 10 May 2014)

Thousands of Singaporean Christians wear white to protest Pink Dot gay rally (Yahoo News, 29 June 2014)

Pastor Lawrence Khong: ‘We will wear white until the pink is gone’ (Mothership.sg, 14 June 2015)

‘Traditional values’ wear white campaign returning on Pink Dot weekend (TODAY, 23 May 2016)

Fun Singapore facts:

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  • Free Community Church affirms that all individuals, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, are individuals of sacred worth created in God’s image.

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  • 2 out of 4 of the Pink Dot 2015 ambassadors were Muslims – Maimunah Bagharib (left) and Hirzi Zulkiflie (right) of THE YouTube Duo MunahHirzi. Both attended Pink Dot in 2016 too, with Hirzi performing in drag.

#3 Government will be questioned on it’s fairness and secularity e.g. why priority is given to the rights of one community over the other.

(Muslim Community) – Wants Tudong to be allowed in all workforce, and supports traditional nuclear families (*I would be doing a future post on the Tudong issue in Singapore)

(LGBTQ Community) – Wants equal rights (e.g. starting from the repeal of 377A)

(Christian Community) – Supports traditional nuclear families

“We should not just be concerned with what we want. We should also know that every community wants its rights to be met.. we have remained as a harmonious society not because every community is given its rights, but because each community has sacrificed something that is very precious to them for the sake of that harmony.” – Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (2016)

My assumption is the government will approach the Tudong issue, before they move on to 377A. This is so as the pro-family stance of some from the religious communities (Christians and Muslims) are still quite strong (Wear White Movement and Return to Fitrah), and the government would not want to rock the religious boat. The Muslim community (indigenous, and larger local population) would also naturally be prioritized first.

#4 Could it be to continue to stamp out gay prostitution?

The documents suggest that Section 377A may have been enacted in 1938 to stamp out male prostitution and not to prosecute the private acts of consenting adults. (TOC, 18 July 2014)

377A enacted when social norms were different: Gay couple’s lawyer (TODAY, 16 July 2014):

A law forbidding any man from committing an act of gross indecency with another in private or in public, enacted in 1938, was meant to deal with the problem of male prostitution at the time. It was not meant to criminalise consensual sexual conduct between two men, argued Senior Counsel Deborah Barker..pointed to a report in 1937 by Rene Onraet, then the Inspector-General of Police for the Straits Settlement, who wrote that male prostitution was widespread. The report was a prelude to making such acts between men an offence so male prostitution could be policed, Ms Barker said, pointing to historical correspondence of the Colonial Government in 1938 provided by the court.

#5 Older generation is still not opened to the LGBTQ community

Unlike the older generation, there seems to be increased societal acceptance towards the LGBTQ community among the younger generation (based on my daily observations).

Liberal attitudes on gay lifestyles not prevalent here (TODAY, 26 August 2013):

The survey found that society, in general, did not accept gay lifestyles, although views differed across age groups and education levels; younger and more educated Singaporeans were relatively more accepting. There was even less support for same-sex marriage, which was rejected by the majority of respondents across nearly all educational profiles.

#6 Influence further population decline in Singapore

#7 Equate to government’s acceptance of LGBTQ community

Our birth rate is already very low, which Singapore has been trying to tackle with our pro-family policies. By repealing 377A, it may be equated as societal / government’s acceptance towards homosexual relationships, which could normalize and increase homosexual relationships in our society, leading to a drop in heterosexual relationships, and a decrease in marriage rate, which will further reduce our birth rates.

Our current fertility rate per female is stuck at 1.24, even with the increase in marriage between Singaporeans and foreigners. Would moving towards the pro-love direction further reduce our population rate in the long-run? I do see the possibility from a statistical viewpoint.

But at the same time, does it mean we should should deny the LGBTQ community their sexual, marriage, parenting, and divorce rights like any other heterosexual couples? They can still pro-create through surrogacy to continue on the population rate. And they have actually always made up a section of the population, just that they won’t as opened about their orientation as compared to now. The question now is whether we will give them the state recognition of their existence, as well as their rights.

#8 Diplomatic relations with nearby Muslim countries 

E.g. Brunei, and Aceh (a state in Indonesia) and Kelantan (a state in Malaysia) have strict Islamic laws. Hudud offences are already in the midst of being implemented in Brunei in stages, while Malaysia is currently engaged in heated debate on whether it should be implemented into secular law.

If Singapore were to head towards the pro-love direction, how will it affect our diplomatic relations with other neighboring Muslim countries whose religious beliefs on matters of lifestyle and morality (e.g. LGBTQ, pre-marital sex, close proximity of non married couples, alcohol presence, adultery, dress codes, necessity of following religious obligations – are being pushed forth into secular law)?

Fact: Though Indonesia has a 85-90% Muslim population, it’s secular government allows gay sex, accept in Aceh –  it’s only state implementing Hudud, where one can be punished with 100 lashes for engaging in gay sex.

#9 What will the LGBTQ community push for next? 

Once 377A is repealed, the government may fear that the pro-love community will push for further constitutional changes e.g. LGBTQ censorship in the media to be abolished, sexuality education stance to changed, as well as constitutional changes in marriage / adoption / divorce).

How are we going to carry out custody of child in separation and divorce? What will the birth certificate of a child show? What are the possible consequences, and backlash from the general public and religious communities with such a paradigm shift – which could very well affect our societal harmony.

According to Conservative S’pore ‘not ready for same-sex marriage’ (TODAY, 5 June 2015)

“No, I do not think Singapore is ready … In Singapore, there is a range of views.  The society is basically a conservative one. It is changing, but it is changing gradually and there are different views, including views especially from the religious groups who push back … It is completely understandable.” 

 “where we are … is not a bad place to be…There is space for the gay community, but they should not push the agenda too hard because if they (do), there will be a very strong pushback…And this is not an issue where there is a possibility that the two sides can discuss and eventually come to a consensus. Now, these are very entrenched views and the more you discuss, the angrier people get.”

 – PM Lee

How can society progress and mature, while ensuring social harmony between the pluralistic communities?

Through finding middle ground between all the communities. Let us look at 5 aspects…

  • Ensure the rights and needs are granted to all communities

This is where civil law comes into play. As a secular government, allow both homosexual and heterosexual couples the rights to legally engage in sex, get married, adopt, divorce, and engage in custody rights.

  • Ensure the beliefs of religious communities are respected likewise

If homosexual couples are granted the right to marriage in civil law, but are not allowed to carry out their marital vows in church, or under ROMM (Registry of Muslim Marriages), Christian, Catholic, and Muslim homosexual couples have to respect and accept the latter too, since it goes against the religion, and the religious institution has the right to not allow you to marry under them.

  • All communities have the platform to express their views and beliefs, as long as they do not incite or encourage any form of violence to any community

Wear white, Pink Dot, I want hijab, Singapore Muslims for Secular Democracy etc. movements

  • Keeping government, workplace, and educational institutions secular

Religious values and beliefs should never be enmeshed with civil law like what is happening in Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Aceh, Kelantan, and certain strict Muslim countries/states.

– If there are universal dress codes for school uniforms and workplaces, citizens should abide to it likewise. They can dress how they would like to in their private lives, and at public spaces.

– There should not be the presence of morality police, and religious followers should not be persecuted or fined for not following their religious obligations e.g. dress codes, skipping weekly worship, consuming alcohol, engaging in pre-marital sex, or adultery.

  • Service providers, public spaces, education, and employment institutions should not discriminate against any gender, age, sexual identity, political belief, ethnicity, religion, nationality, orientation, socio-economic level.

Individuals of any belief, ethnicity, religion, nationality, orientation should not be banned from receiving services or entering shops which is sadly, what is happening in US.

Other than culture/race/religious-specific or language-specific jobs e.g. tour guide for a Chinese historical museum, religious job at a mosque, there should not be institutional discrimination towards jobs seekers.

Afterthoughts

I can understand the government’s struggle in trying to balance out the needs of the different communities which has contrasting views e.g. pro-love VS pro-family groups, because one strong action can lead to an even stronger reaction.

Like past civil right movements which took decades to fight for, the rights of the pro-love community may be slowly granted in the decades to come. Like what the then NMP Ms Janice Koh said, what we can do now is on-the-ground educational work to raise public awareness, and open the eyes, hearts, and minds to the masses who are still strongly homophobic, or transphobic.

2 good educational reads:

(2016) Universal Periodic Review & The LGBTIQ Community in Singapore. OOGACHAGA. PINK DOT SG.

(2012) Impact of Homophobia and Transphobia on LGBTQ Individuals in Singapore Survey Summary Report May 2012. Oogachaga.

For pleasure reading:

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7 Singapore LGBT / adult films that faced censorship, or film screening withdrawals

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[Investigative Journalism] 6 Political Videos & Singapore’s Censorship

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Research Links (only the more relevant ones’ are included in the below):

A sermon from MUIS on homosexuality (yawning bread, Aug 2003)

police arrest four men in singapore sauna (Fridae, 28 Apr 2005)

Political apoplexy and police priorities (August 2006)

Shame on the Police (MrWangsaysso, 18 Aug 2007)

Homophobia Part 2: Under attack from the police (TOC, 3 May 2008)

Han, F.K., Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua, M.H., Lim, L., Low, I., Lin, R., Chan, R. (2011). Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going. Singapore, Straits Time Press.

The arrests at One Seven and Section 20 (yawningbread, Nov 2011)

Gay parents in Singapore (fridae.asia, 26 Dec 2012)

Campaign to raise funds for gay couple’s Section 377A constitutional challenge (Homosexuality in Singapore, 25 April 2013)

Liberal attitudes on gay lifestyles not prevalent here (TODAY, 26 August 2013)

Court of Appeal rules that Section 377A that criminalises sex between men is constitutional (ST, 29 Oct 2014)

Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Catholic Church’s Position on Sexuality (9 Mar 2014)

Refusal to allow pro-family event at Padang puzzling: Lawrence Khong (TODAY, 10 May 2014)

Law prof launches book on gay movement in S’pore (CNA, 15 May 2014)

Be inclusive: Catholic Archbishop (AsiaOne, 16 May 2014)

Religious teacher launches ‘wear white’ online campaign (ST, 20 June 2014)

Singapore Islamic Scholars & Religious Teachers Association – Pergas (20 June 2014)

MUIS urges mosques not to take confrontational stand on LGBT lifestyles (TODAY, 21 June 2014)

Be big-hearted, avoid dividing society: Dr Yaacob (ST, 21 June 2014)

Catholic Church discourages LGBT relationships but decries discrimination (ST, 22 June 2014)

Tharman vs Yaacob: Both issued platitudes about the online campaign to wear white, but who said it better? (Mothership.sg, 22 June 2014)

NMP Janice Koh: ‘It’s a matter of time before 377A is repealed’ (Mothership.sg, 23 June 2014)

Record turnout for Singapore gay rally amid religious protests (TODAY, 28 June 2014)

Thousands of Singaporean Christians wear white to protest Pink Dot gay rally (Yahoo, 29 June 2014)

Archbishop apologises for “insensitivity” in earlier statement on LGBT issues (AsiaOne, 13 July 2014)

Pastoral Letter To Catholics With Same-sex Orientation (Catholic News, 13 July 2014)

377A enacted when social norms were different: Gay couple’s lawyer (TODAY, 16 July 2014)

Section 377A meant to curb male prostitution, not consensual sex  (TOC, 18 July 2014)

Free Community Church

Blogger Alex Au found guilty of court contempt for one of two articles (ST, 22 Jan 2015)

377A Singapore Statues Online (Attorney-General’s Chambers, 1 April 2015)

Conservative S’pore ‘not ready for same-sex marriage’ (TODAY, 5 June 2015)

Pastor Lawrence Khong: ‘We will wear white until the pink is gone’ (Mothership.sg, 14 June 2015)

Rainbow Parents SG

Decision to retain Section 377A ‘carefully considered, balanced’ (CNA, 12 Dec 2015)

Update on HIV/Aids situation in Singapore 2015 (MOH, 2015)

A blog about same-sex parenting, relationships & life hacking in Singapore

Religion must be practised based on local context: Masagos (CNA, 11 Feb 2016)

Response to Leow Yangfa’s plea to support Pink Dot (TOC, 16 May 2016)

‘Traditional values’ wear white campaign returning on Pink Dot weekend (TodayOnline, 23 May 2016)

LGBT History in Singapore (Wikipedia)

6 episodes done up by wear white FB page responding to arguments made by pro-LGBT Muslims (28 May – 3 June 2016)

New HIV/Aids cases among gays highest in seven years (ST, 3 June 2016)

Voluntary HIV screening rate in Singapore “extremely worrying”: Action for Aids (CAN, 9 June 2016)

New HIV/Aids cases among gays highest in seven years (ST, 23 June 2016)

PAP MPs for the repeal of Section 377A

PAP MPs against the repeal of Section 377A

Reform Party politicians’ views on homosexuality

Workers’ Party politicians’ views on homosexuality

Singapore Democratic Party politicians’ views on homosexuality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Everything about 377A summarized into a “comprehensive” nutshell for Singaporean readers

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