Why is there such a law in the first place?
In general, laws are made to protect the people and the country. So the pertinent question to ask is how does this law, 377A, protect and whom and what does it actually protect?
We have penal laws against molest and rape, and sex with minors, and statutory rape. Are these laws only confined to heterosexual sex acts? I believe we also have law against sex with animals. I believe it is still punishable by law for consenting heterosexual adults to indulge in oral sex or anal sex. I admit, I am not up to speed on this last point. Is it still against the law to penetrate the ‘wrong’ orifices during sex, even between spouses and consenting adults? What about the law on committing an obscene act or indecent behaviour in public? Let’s not forget too that relatively new law that makes it an offence to appear without a stitch of clothing on in ones own home if outsiders can see us without much difficulty in such a state of undress?
My question is do these existing laws NOT apply to homosexual acts in a similar fashion, situation and context? Do the existing laws not protect the vulnerable against homosexual acts between non-consenting adults (rape) or against minors or statutory rape, for instance? Or, anal and oral sex, and so on? Clearly, they do.
Therefore, seen in this light, 377A, as it stands is specifically meant to curb, by outlawing homosexual acts and activities, period. I think this is the nub of the issue that the homosexual community and their sympathizers are very unhappy about – that they are labelled as offenders who are allowed to roam the streets, but who can and may be arrested at the drop of a hat, at the leisure and whims and fancies of the govt.
IMO, 377A is on a par with all those other sexual offenses and illicit sex behaviour that I have mentioned above. And also, is it any different in intent from the laws against illicit drugs?
By refusing to take down the law, the govt is in effect saying that homosexual activities and acts are illegal with the sub-text that it is illegal because it is an act against the order of ‘nature’. More precisely, the unspoken underlying tenet seems to be that the sex act is intended by nature (and therefore permissible) only for the sole purpose of procreation and propagation (just like how the dogs and lions do it). Plainly, these outcomes are impossible in a homosexual relationship. It implies that marriages between heterosexual adults are therefore no more and no less than an orderly ‘civilized’ and ‘responsible’ way of ensuring procreation and propagation of the species – a futile invention of human civilization in an attempt to circumscribe and confine human sexual activities to only between spouses.
This belief is all very well until you have to admit that a whole lot of existing heterosexual sexual activities and relationships, in and outside of marriage, past and present, were/are indulged in by people for the sheer ‘fun’ and joy of it (’The Joy Of Sex’, remember?). But IMO, it is not frivolous but serious fun borne out of a necessity for timely and constant sexual releases for all people – because nature is not perfect in the sense that it is not only married people who have sexual urges! But then, is it indeed the case that nature is actually quite perfect – in using sexual release as the ultimate pressure release valve in order for men and women of whatever sexual orientation to retain their sanity, to be able to continuously function normally, in this mad, mad, mad, mad, world of ours? Isn’t that not why many people from both genders seek out boy friends and girl friends and paid prostitutes, the world’s oldest professionals, to safely discharge off their bodily and emotionally driven built-up pent-up frustrations and pressures of everyday living?
But then again perhaps nature is also not quite perfect enough in that it has not confined sexual attraction only to between the opposite sex. Instead it has made possible man-man and woman-woman attractions, albeit in the minority. Even for those who believe that homosexual relationship is an invention of the human mind (although animal studies, actually say otherwise) it is still a ‘gift’ (or a quirk) of nature all the same, just as the human brain is a gift of nature (evolution).
We have all heard of ‘hero worship’ amongst adolescents that is not confined to the attraction of a youngster to a more senior member of the opposite sex. It is also equally an attraction to someone from the same sex as well. Isn’t at least a wee bit of homosexual feeling is involved here? But, if we accept nature as it is, warts and all (we can’t do anything about it after all) then surely we have to accept that it is PART AND PARCEL of nature for some human males and females (as well as some animals, this has been well documented) to be attracted to and to prefer partners from the same sex for that all important and crucial physical intimacy, release and expression, and emotional and psychological support, in order to remain sane and be able to function normally. Granted that ‘likes’ cannot procreate, but on the bright side the world is already over-populated.
By refusing to take down or at least TONE down the existing law the govt is signalling to homosexuals that it is taking sides with the ‘moral’ majority. As a system, it is evidently not tenable, logical nor rational to say that the law can or must remain in the statute book but that it would not be enforced. How is that possible? Can we have a law which makes littering an offence but would not be enforced as long as no one sees you littering? This would be ignoring the instructional and educative aspect of having a law. It should be clear from the example of the anti-littering law that it is bad to litter even when no one else is looking! Clearly, if the govt sincerely has no intention to enforce 377A, there is the necessary little nitty gritty of expunging it, to match actions to words. The govt’s stand therefore remains unconvincing to all and sundry which is also why the gay community is feeling so aggrieved.
IMO, the truth is that it is NOT consideration for the ‘moral’ majority that the govt is interested in. It is in fact really interested in how removing 377A would affect its control of the homosexual situation in Singapore. That is at the very heart of the issue. For, if it is only a matter of concern for the majority, then it should be a simple matter of resolving it through conducting a national referendum to decide the direction to take. IMO, a referendum, would in all likelihood confirm that the majority would still want the law to remain.
But, in reality the govt really don’t care either way, as the hard truth is that it is really much more concerned, quite legitimately, about the impact and ramifications of lifting 377A; how it would pan out on the ground. It is a doomsday scenario as far as the govt sees it currently, as it watches the LGBT(Q?) development pans out in the west. It is likely that the govt considers a full blown gay scene on our doorsteps as the equivalent of having a full blown HIV scene here. The LGBT(Q?) would rightly feel gravely insulted if govt were to openly declare this. Hence, this present ambivalent situation which the govt, for better or for worse, feels is the right course to adopt until further notice.
Ultimately, the big question is whether the local ‘gay scene’ is able to come together and develop a much needed clout to engage the govt to work with it to come up with an acceptable, unique ‘compromise’ scheme that could work in Singapore? I have no illusion about the level of difficulty involved, and I don’t envy the challenges posed to both the govt and the local gay community.