Friday, 12 October 2007

it's not just a gay thing. it's about equality.

25 comments:

James Chia said...

I just read the newspapers on your petition sponsoring to the parliament. Although the issue involved is a sensitive one, I feel you are contributing a great deal to the progression of Singapore's society. I hope you could represent a party during the next election to speak up more for the people.

Kelvin said...

Great job, Mr Siew. I am not gay but I support the repeal. I am all for equality. I am against discrimination against fellow citizen of all race, status and orientation. What people do in private and with consent is not a crime. It is a crime to force people to live according to your wishes. Good for you, Mr Siew.

David said...

I am extremely disappointed by your decision. Indeed, you must be intelligent enough to know that this is not about discrimination. You know it about the society making a stand.

This is about our societal view about gay lifestyles. Repealing the Act has one fundamental impact, it means that we accept the lifestyle as mainstream. Just like if we approve other behaviours like drug abuse. Do they hurt others? Yes and no, it is arguable. But it is clearly frowned upon by society at large. What does that say? It says it goes against the grain of our moral beliefs.

Morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. Therefore, if society considers gay lifestyle immoral, then it cannot approve of it in the laws which reflects our core beliefs.

Even in this note, I think we are just scratching the surface. What is the real agenda? Where will it end? If this Act is repealed, what’s next? Recognition as equal sex status, legislation against employment bias, same sex marriage, right to adopt? This has played out very well in the West, and for those more informed, the path ahead is clear.

It is not about subjugation, because no homosexuals has been jailed for being homosexuals in Singapore. It is about getting the society to believe homosexuality is an acceptable behaviour, and silencing those who dissent. It is about putting it into law, so that even those who believe that such behaviour is sin cannot object. It is about educating a new MTV generation that your agenda is right, and ours is wrong.

At the end, we are only against the behaviour. Not against the person. The Act, not the Actor.

H-Shi said...

Retaining section 377A will only serve as a basis for further discrimination. It's time the government takes measure to protect the minorities.

"Conventionality is not morality" - Charlotte Bronte.

Siew Kum Hong said...

To james chia and kelvin: Thank you.

To h-shi: True.

To david: To say that "At the end, we are only against the behaviour. Not against the person. The Act, not the Actor." is mere sophistry, not when the act is something so fundamental to a person's identity as his sexuality, not when the message to someone is that his existence -- something that the highest levels of our leadership has acknowledged to be probably genetically-determined -- is a crime.

In any case, I do not propose to debate this extensively. I would only say 3 things in response:

- the "signposting" argument does not stand up to scrutiny, because it is a trite principle of criminal law that it should not enforce morality. In times past, public morality in various places has also been against mixed marriages, women working and women voting, and for slavery and racial discrimination -- all of which are now accepted as being abhorrent to mankind. Also, in the very same bill, we are repealing a section that makes it an offence for a person to "entice" a married woman, and also lifting the defence against marital rape in limited circumstances. What are we then signposting there, that society accepts adultery and spousal rape? I do not, and have no wish to, live in that society you suggest that the bill is signposting.

- the "gay agenda" argument is not material to this discussion, which is limited solely to a repeal of Section 377A. This suggestion of a "slippery slope" ignores the point that a repeal does not, in and of itself, lead to any movement elsewhere. Let's take single mothers -- we have so many policies that discriminate against single mothers, which society is purported to frown on, but we do not criminalise it. So not criminalising something does not necessarily lead to anything more.

- repealing Section 377A does not stop anyone from continuing to criticise it on moral grounds. Indeed, it does not deny any rights to any person. The likes of Derek Hong can continue in his distasteful ways.

Su Hiang said...

Mr Siew,

Like David, I'm very disappointed that you are actively pro-gay.

I do not think we can ignore the 'slippery slope' argument against repealing Sec 377A. Do we honestly believe that the local gay activists desire anything less than the right to same sex marriage, adoption of children etc.? In all likelihood, an alernative family structure will adversely affect Singapore society. Do we think that children who are adopted by homosexual couples will have a normal childhood and grow up fine? We should spare a thought for the next generation.

Lastly, I believe you should know that there is no conclusive evidence that homosexuality is inborn. That is one huge assumption.


Steven

Miak said...

to david:

yeah, if you are not against the person, and against the act, you should recognise homosexuals as equals, as human beings, and recognise they should not be discriminated against in employment opportunities.

sadly, "david"'s choice of words exposes the fact that he is indeed against the Actor.

does "david" know what is a gay lifestyle? i hope he can enlighten me.

Balenciaga said...

Mr Siew,

It is refreshing to see there's someone there sitting in parliament who looks out for the rights of the minorities... And by 'minorities', i do not just mean the gays. Way too many minorities are overlooked, the single mothers, the abused husbands, the abused wives, the underaged etc.

Alot of people talk abt the repeal of 377A as an erosion of the 'moral structure' of Singapore and before we know it, the 'gays' will be demanding same sex marriages and adoption etc.

Can a child have a normal childhood under the care of a homosexual couple? Maybe we should ask can whether a child can have a 'normal' childhood having a abused mother or father, a single mother, divorced parents, parents who aren't even married, a father who goes to neighboring countries seeking underage sex etc. and the list is endless...

What is the definition of a 'alternative' family structure? Can we say Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt have a alternative family structure? What about adopting children of a different race?

Anyway, i should even be talking about this right now as it would take the West to come to a conclusion probably 10-15 years later so it'll probably take Singapore twice as long to reach there...

Nonetheless, i have digressed. The point of dropping this message is to give you a pat on your back for lending a voice to a group of people who have been, like dogs, muffled for way too long...

1029 said...

to David - "It is about getting the society to believe homosexuality is an acceptable behaviour, and silencing those who dissent. It is about putting it into law, so that even those who believe that such behaviour is sin cannot object. It is about educating a new MTV generation that your agenda is right, and ours is wrong."

how long can a society condone injustice just because the majority feels it is right to do so? in short, just this matter alone at hand and what singapore is saying by keeping 377a there is, "look, your rights have to be silenced, because that's what the majority of the society wants. we should care for the society as a whole, maximising our utility at the expense of the minority's rights, equality, and justice. nevermind what the rest of the world are doing, and their stand and take on it."

there are mores that a society subscribes to. what is happening now is, a difference in the basic moral codes of the ones fighting, and the ones resisting. so, should a society condone an injust because the majority feels, and says so? and since 377a has never been put into action, why keep it? imo, keeping it does more harm than good, nevermind the over-used common debates and reasons that both sides have fronted. with a government that encourages embracing changes along with the times, re-educating the workforce, City of Possibilities, it is really self-defeating and inconsistent with what it preaches, and its original intents it has for its population by keeping 377a intact. unless, of course, we unfold the many economic hypocrisies which are the main driving reasons for advocating campaigns and exercises to embrace change and re-training the workforce, which i'd like to think that it really isn't the case. and i can't help but just simply see the recent tagline for this year's National Day as a farce as it reads, "City of Possibilities".

and, do take note. Singapore is special, one of a kind in the world. there are no precedents when it comes to this society's moral beliefs. many people's moral beliefs are based on their respective religion's morality. Christians, Christian morality. Muslims, Islamic morality. Buddhists, Buddhist morality, and so forth. Surely the bible, quran, and the sutras are advocates and vehicles of justice. thus, then, justice should be universal, but it doesn't seem so when people are selective when to comes to their mores. Justice is, and should prevail above all religions, and it is exactly at this ground that i think it is about time that the believers of justice, put forth their say, and their fight for their share of equal treatment and sunlight in this world; singapore, or not.

regardless of what you say, as long as a law discriminates, it is injust. this might not be the point as you see it, but it is mightily theirs; the people who believe in it.

michaely said...

I have known a number of gays in my life and one who died of aids. He had multiple gay partners. FOr the time being, just accept the law as it is. The government already promises no active prosecution of those who are gay. The gay community can do what its members want to do (as MM has said) and there is no need for a public display of your gay orientation. I think it is better to keep it this way until the society can emerge to be more tolerant of gays. Am i intolerant or uninformed? Well let's just say that I am a graduate, 50 years, married with children. I am straight. And I have my own business. Perhaps I represent the conservative part of the society. Say what you want, this conservative part may be quite substantial.

Thank you for allowing me to leave my thoughts here.

Raymond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raymond said...

Mr Siew,

I applaud your action to defend the defenceless and speak up for those who have been systematically denied a voice and place in Singapore society. It takes courage and wisdom to do what is fair and just; this is what those who represent the people should do in government.

Although section 377A specifically discriminates against men who have consensual sex with other men in private, the debate over its retention is not really about gays and homosexuality. In my view, the retention of section 377A is really about endorsing and perpetuating discrimination, injustice and inequality. And to do this under the guise of perceived "conservatism" is simply disingenuous; it further compounds an error of the past and makes it an even greater mistake. If the government does not exercise leadership in this regard and move Singapore forward, how is this alleged "conservative" society ever going to look beyond its parochial attitudes and develop a more modern, progressive outlook? And if the government is unwilling to exercise leadership in the matter, it should at the very least, remove impediments for civil society to do so, i.e. by eliminating all discrimination and prejudice from the law.

Who are we kidding here? Oral and anal sex are now acceptable for heterosexual couples but not for homosexual ones? How ludicrous and absolutely hypocritical! Retaining section 377A but not seeking to actively prosecute homosexuals (impossible to police the bedrooms of our citizens)? How laughably twisted! Again, we invite the derision and ridicule of other more civilized societies.

Of even greater concern, I think, would be the mindsets of those homophobic and uninformed individuals who seek to further perpetuate discrimination, injustice and inequality under the guise of morality. The law should not further exacerbate this problem of self-righteousness and stupidity; it must not pander to their insecurities and hang-ups.

In my view, allowing these homophobic and uninformed individuals to perpetuate their unfounded fears, ignorance and prejudice does more grievous harm to our younger generation, especially with regard to their intellectual capacity, appreciation and respect for diversity and non-conformity. It would indeed be sad if they all just adopted an uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of the status quo. Discrimination, injustice and inequality are simply not acceptable in any form (or has the national pledge that our children recite each day utterly lost its meaning?). Singapore needs more open, enlightened minds and not closed, benighted ones, if we are truly to become a modern, progressive nation that we all can be proud of one day.

Peter said...

Mr Siew,

To be very blunt, I am very disturbed by your latest move.

Just recently when the government was doing a "review" on section 377A, I was worried. Worried what our society will become when the law of the country says it is okay for a guy to.... uhem, you know, another guy.

Just use our common sense to look at how human beings are designed to function. It is not normal. It is unnatural.

Having said this, if you want to do whatever you want to in the bedroom. By all means go ahead. It is your right. It is your own life.

This may be a lifestyle you or the 1000 people or so you represent think it is okay, but it is not what the general population in this country can accept.

I was delighted when the government made the announcement that Section 377A is here to stay. Kudos to the Mr Lee and his government (at least they got something right).

Hence I am puzzled why you are stirring things up again. You got 1000 signatures in 3 days? Give me 1 day and I'll get you 1001. 100% confident I can do it.

IMHO, signing petitions is just a waste of time. And now you want to waste Parliment's time? Not sure how much taxpayer's money will be going down the drain.

Hope you can spend your previous time doing something more meaningful to better the lives of Singaporeans at large.

lisiepeasie said...

Wow, talk about a shitstorm on the ST Forum.

I feel gravely disappointed that it takes an NMP (not that I'm disparaging your NMP status or anything, heh) to speak up for the rights of minorities. It just speaks volumnes when politicans of the majority and minority party alike would not risk their positions to actually take substantive action to end such blatant discrimination.

But hopefully this petition might force people to re-examine and change their positions on this issue. :) Then maybe we can have a diverse and more tolerant country.

Lim Peh said...

I do not support the repeal and I am happy that the penal code is here to stay.

And I'm here to state my case because a loud minority has drown out the silent majority.

Raymond said...

Again, I think that the unbelievable ignorance and utter mindlessness behind such deplorable discrimination and prejudice (and the perpetuation of these evils under the guise of conservatism or morality), are a greater detriment to the development and progress of Singapore as a nation of one, united people, all equal under the law.

Speaking of the law, there should be one that makes it a crime to be so stupid and unthinking as these homophobes (but we won't seek to actively prosecute those who were born without a brain or are unable to exercise higher the faculty of reason).

with tongue firmly-in-cheek,

;-p

Bihui said...

Peter wrote:
Just use our common sense to look at how human beings are designed to function. It is not normal. It is unnatural.

Were human beings 'designed' to drive cars? To live in high-rise concrete boxes? To wear clothes and shoes and jewellery? To use computers? To go to the South Pole? To undergo chemotherapy? To take vitamins in the form of pills? Should we make all the above activities criminal as well?

Unless you think we should go back to the good old days of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, the 'unnatural' argument is inconsistent.

P said...

Unfortunately, I think you may be starting to get too emotional about this. Legal arguments, injustice, discrimination, logic aside. You, and probably the Gay community, would have to recognise this for what it is. A difference in the defintion of values and social mores. This chasm will not be bridged no matter how many compelling arguments are put up by either side. In the end, it would be a policy decision taken by more conservative (and whatever other more colourful tags/descriptions/adjectives you may want to use) sections of society.

You may also wish to edit your replies more carefully. Reconsider phrases like "I do not, and have no wish to, live in that society you suggest that the bill is signposting." and "The likes of Derek Hong can continue in his distasteful ways."

The first suggests that you may not be able to tolerate strong disagreement with your position or opinions. I find this quite disconcerting. I think Parliament expresses policy, values, society's views through legislation, and hence signposts. If a society (through its elected government) does eventually choose to signpost a policy through legislation, then surely you wouldn't pack up and leave just because of that? I appreciate the logic of your argument of why this and not that. But we are not Vulcans.

I don't know Derek Hong or don't even belong to his church, but I guess my point is that he is entitled to his views as you are yours. The use of the word distasteful means you find his ways objectionable/offensive (hey, I got this off dictionary.com). You may disagree with his "ways" (whatever they are), but I think it is not necessary to resort to emotive language regardless of the strength of your belief in your position. The use of the word "distasteful" was unfortunate.

Your arguments throughout your blog are logical but logic does not prevail in all situations, just as EQ is just as, or more important than IQ.

gonococcus said...

oh cmon, what's the worst that repealing 377A would do? all your talk of moral breakdown and the risk of your kids magically becoming gay due to it simply dont hold water.

laws are made to define what is punishable and what is not.

it's not something you use to force people into behaving in a particular way, neither is it something you use to show national support or condemnation for certain minorities.

if prostitution is immoral, we might as well make laws against that, along with laws against divorce, and a law against pushing in the mrt! the judicial system isn't meant to be abused in this way.

think again. it's a simple discussion, really:
should homosexuals be sent to jail just for consummating their romance?

forget about the allegations of it being a 'slippery-slope' precedent or whatever wooly implications. what matters is the direct implication of 377A itself

should homosexuals be jailed for making love with each other?

remember, we once sneered at the absurdity of malaysia's laws against sodomy. aren't we going to apply the same standards to our own country?

i wrote more about it

Mal said...

I strongly believe in this cause, and I want to know what I can do to aid the repealment of S377a. I hope anyone actively involved in this matter can contact me, or give me something to do to support the repealment of S377a. I might only be a student, and my contribution may be limited, but I want to contribute nonetheless - for a start I could help make more videos pro-bono. Somebody please contact me and let me know what else I can do to help!

mal_ong_inc@hotmail.com

Raymond said...

Societies that have done away with laws discriminating against sexual orientation have neither disappeared under brimstone and ash nor have their citizens all turned into pillars of salt. On the other hand, we have seen the grievous consequences of misguided zealotry and religious fundamentalism, especially when they are allowed to run their ruinous course to tragic conclusions.

While I have been somewhat bemused by the ignorant and uninformed views (some of which are so inane as to be utterly hilarious) of those opposing the repeal of section 377a, I am saddened by the many who have done so by invoking their "Christian" beliefs. In my mind, there is nothing Christian about their convictions; they are bereft of reason and devoid of faith. Bigotry under the guise of religiosity. They seem to have forgotten that it was such ignorance and intolerance that led to persecution and deaths of countless Christians in the past, the most notable being Christ Himself on the cross.

Their failure to comprehend the issue of law, the principles of fairness, justice and equality, is astounding. If they had understood the basic tenets of their professed faith, they would not have been so quick to judge and condemn, for it is selfless and unconditional love, of God and neighbour, that lies at the true heart of Christianity.

Perhaps they should recall their self-righteous predecessors, who were also only too willing to judge and condemn. When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees tried to stone a woman caught in adultery, Jesus admonished them by saying "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". As each of them slunk away, Jesus asked her "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir", she replied. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. (John 8:1-12). A love that conquers all!

Other admonishments against judging others, self-righteousness and hypocrisy:

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (Romans 2:1-3)

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)

"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him." (1 John 2:9-11)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:23-28)

Sound familiar?

A Real World said...

Mr Siew, do you really know what's equality? Go to visit the poor, help them, cos that will be more of a chicken soup of the soul for you.....Helping the arrse lovers is like offering your help to dig someone's nose....Kaypo....

family man said...

I am in my 40s, married with children. I do not have many heroes in my lifetime. Lee Kuan Yew was once my hero, not now, after all that I have seen the PAP done to the poor ($260 per month) our CPF (unilateral extension of drawdown to 67) and minister salary ($2mil) and the lie that the rise in GST was to help the poor (all LTA fares / utilities went up immediately thereafter) as well as upcoming means testing of C ward patients (where we saw the minister of health lie of 1 year ago.) Mr Siew, you are now one of my heroes who I feel is lead by justice and equality, as stated in our pledge, and I am proud of you. May God keep and bless you. You deserve every cent of the MP allowance and more....the other PAP MPs - I find them amusing after the 2 tampines GRC members back off the CPF issues....quaint.

Raymond said...

I read with trepidation the following remarks by Balaji Sadasivan, reportedly made during a University of Michigan Alumni dinner last night (see Tan Hui Leng's article "Diversity, divisiveness and dialogue ...", TodayOnline.com):

"We need a diversity of skills and views in our society so that we can respond to the changing environment in an effective manner," he said.

"As a society, it is better to deal with an issue when we can get enough Singaporeans to believe in tolerance and respect, by that I mean the spirit of tolerance and respect ... Then, we can have a meaningful dialogue."

"Like the PM said, the debate would yield no benefit for Singapore now. So, in the revision of the Penal Code, we're not dealing with Section 377A."

So the message, basically, is "don't rock the boat." The dignity and personhood of gay Singaporeans sacrificed for the whims and fancies of bigots.

This is quite absurd: how are we going to "get enough Singaporeans to believe in tolerance and respect" by keeping a law that essentially discriminates against a segment of Singapore citizens, by treating them unequally and criminalizing their sexuality, something that constitutes a fundamental part of their identity, which they cannot choose or change even if they wanted to? In keeping such an unjust and discriminatory law, are we not further abetting the bigots in perpetuating the intolerance and prejudice already prevalent in society? Keeping section 377A potentially does greater harm as it may have the unintended consequence of "legitimizing" intolerance and prejudice, giving the bigots the justification to further spread their loathsome poison. This is an indulgence that we can ill afford.

It is precisely because Singapore needs to move forward, to develop into modern and progressive nation, and in Balaji's words, to "encourage a diversity of skills and views in our society so that we can respond to the changing environment in an effective manner" that we need more open minds and not closed ones. And we can begin this process by abolishing all discrimination in the law, especially one like section 377A that is clearly anachronistic, redundant and unjust.

By invoking such ill-conceived notions of "conservatism" and "pragmatism" as reasons to keep the status quo and choosing not to deal with section 377A at present, on the grounds that "the debate would yield no benefit for Singapore now" the Government comes across as rather heartless and mercenary. By not exercising courage and leadership to abolish discrimination and prejudice and to actively promote greater acceptance of diversity and non-conformity, the Government is not practising what it preaches. If it is not careful, it risks being "hoisted by its own petard" in the future.

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