Saturday, December 1, 2012

377A Challenged

Two men filed a legal challenge in the High Court against Section 377A yesterday.

Yes.

Section 377A of the Penal Code states:

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

This means that private consensual sex between two male adults is illegal.

Firstly, why should anyone bother about private consensual acts between adults?

Secondly, isn’t the law supposed to protect the sanctity of consent, because for any act committed without consent, there’s a victim, right? Look at rape, robbery, etc.

Thirdly, the idea of protection implies a prevention of victimisation and harm. So who is the victim when a private consensual adult act is committed? Sorry, bigotry doesn’t count as a victim.

Fourthly, isn’t it perplexing that the criminalisation of a private consensual adult victimless act affects some Singaporeans, and not others. This means this particular discriminatory statutory law is incongruent with our Constitution, right?

Our Constitution states that all persons are equal before the law. The existence of Section 377A, however, makes it seem that everyone else, namely those who probably aren’t interested in participating in consensual male homosexual sex (or moments of intimacy, or both), would enjoy a privilege over gay people. A legal privilege, so that doesn’t really make any sense.

In the last few years, I have grown tired repeating the same arguments over and over again pertaining to my position on equality regardless of identity and persuasion. However, ideological bigotry and the homophobes who continue to spawn this hateful madness never grew tired.

It is because bigotry is indefatigable, we get to deal with horse crap like the following:
  • The belief that homosexuality is inherently wrong.
  • That heterosexuality is natural, therefore everything else essentially isn’t. (Then again, if being straight is so natural, why do we need the media, the law and society to continue to remind us on what it takes to be heterosexual?)
  • What is deemed unnatural is thus deemed inherently wrong, immoral or sinful. (Still reading MacBeth, ya?)
  • Homosexuality is a lifestyle, or choice, hence can be unlearned and discarded, if “they” don’t end up “converting” you.
  • The gay agenda.
It’s very obvious that there are ideological and social mechanisms that continue to invalidate, trivialise and demonise sexual minorities. Since this is a democracy, wherein a majority are self-identified heterosexuals, there is no protection against how the straight folks may rationalise homosexuality.

Historically and currently, LGBT people (and other minorities) are rationalised in terms of medicine (you’re sick), psychiatry (you’re crazy), law (you’re illegal), religion (you’re immoral/sinful), and other institutions, so as to maintain a certain group’s power.

When discourse was ideology, and when ideology was paradigm, and when paradigm was whatever-just-add-to-the-damn-genealogy, the privileged, the ruling elite, the majority, the powerful, the ones most capable of devastating violence, etc. are always quick to create and mobilise institutional mechanisms to sculpt a society according to what they believe is ideal and of course favourable to them.

Nothing new really. The more important thing to note is the set of implications this has on the lived daily realities of minorities – mental and professional well-being among many.

Over the years, perhaps decades, we have self-identified heterosexual Singaporeans stepping forward to denounce homosexuality and LGBT people in general. They bravely leverage the institutions of family (and children) and marriage to invalidate and demonise.

Silence doesn’t mean consensus among the straight populous. Too few straight Singaporeans have stood up to tell these guys to stop spewing this fear and hate-mongering nonsense.

I understand that some play by the rules of not indulging or dignifying others with a response. Unfortunately, this is akin to choosing not to vote in an election; the voter will eventually have a bigger say than the one who didn’t vote.

That said, every gay-affirming straight person who does not speak up, will always run the risk of being construed as unsupportive of equality regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, so long as the homophobes make homophobia the norm. Silence thus does not only imply consensus but a complicity in homophobia.

That is probably why the very consultative and very engaging PAP government will continue to come to the conclusion that Singaporeans are not ready. On the one hand, they hear what they perceive as the heterosexual majority saying that homosexuality is wrong, deviant and [insert any unjustifiable excuse], and on the other, oh wait, there’s silence, no one’s speaking up and there aren’t enough people to prove that this is substantial.

Well, it may be tiring to repeat the same message and arguments over and over again, but this exists in a context in which competing messages are constantly repeated, and some of these messages continue to preach discrimination often without sound reason, and have an abundance of excuses to continue discriminating.

What is challenging for those who continue to find excuses to discriminate against LGBT people is the presence of those who have no reason and feel no need to explain themselves for being LGBT-affirming.

And since subtlety is not a Singaporean trait, it is advisable that this LGBT-affirming position be made a little bit more obvious. We got to show that Singaporeans are well-adjusted when it comes to attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender identity.

Let’s have some equality now. Just a simple request.

Note to lawmakers: This straight Singaporean is ready for Section 377A to be repealed. Thanks.

1 comment:

Jackson Yee said...

"That said, every gay-affirming straight person who does not speak up, will always run the risk of being construed as unsupportive of equality regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, so long as the homophobes make homophobia the norm. Silence thus does not only imply consensus but a complicity in homophobia."

- Beautiful!