Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Section 377A and equality for all

(unpublished - Apr 10, 2013)

As a couple of ten years and married for five, we learn with disappointment the High Court's decision to uphold Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises consensual sex between two adult men.

This has implications on many of our gay friends. We notice some fellow Singaporeans have used the rhetoric of family, values and morality, further galvanised by claims of faith and religiosity, to continue the call for social and institutional discrimination against gay people. We cannot stand for this form of exclusion and discrimination.

Gay Singaporeans have already long been mentioned and portrayed in the mainstream in conjunction with contentious morality, disease and promiscuity. Discourses on their acceptance have also been couched, conditionally, in economic rhetoric, such as “pink dollar”. Furthermore, they remain subjected to slippery slope arguments that conflate homosexuality with paedophilia and bestiality.

The statutory law continues to classify consensual sex between two adult men as “gross indecency”, a cause for further stigmatism, never mind the criminality associated with their identity. Does this mean the consent between two homosexual persons is inferior to two adults of opposite sex, thus the former is less deserving of protection?

If we truly aspire towards an equal society as espoused in our National Pledge, surely the privileges and protection afforded to heterosexual couples by the state and society be similarly shared with gay couples.

We are also perplexed by the ongoing obsession with family structure, vis-à-vis how family should be functioning and functional. For us, a family is about love and safety, where compassion and graciousness are shared and learned.

It is unfortunate some of us continue to obsess over the “form” of the family and impose it on others. This convenient observation and privilege have gone unquestioned and been normalised. These are in turn enshrined in policy and law.

In a democracy that is balanced with pluralistic practices that not only ensure an orientation towards equal opportunity and equal treatment, it is unjust we cannot extend pluralism to fellow Singaporeans who identify as gay. The grounds on which some of us speak, as heterosexual persons, members of faith communities, or family women and men, are safe and well protected from abuse, ridicule, marginalisation and trivialisation.

It is a privilege that we cannot take for granted, but judging by decisions and comments, it not only appears the converse has happened, but it has been used to disadvantage people we perceive and label as different.

Ho Chi Sam

(letter was jointly written by me and my wife, and sent to The Straits Times, with edits in this version)

1 comment:

Zaihan Kariyani said...

Thank you. You're awesome.