DEAR PAP, REPEALING SECTION 377A IS THE BEST PROTECTION FOR GAYS IN S’PORE

Dear Lee Hsien Loong, Goh Chok Tong and K Shanmugam,

You have collectively stated that threats or violence against any group or community, in this case the LGBT community, in any form is unacceptable and will not be condoned. You have further stated that it is the Government’s duty to protect everyone, regardless of their race, religion or, in this case sexual orientation. And that the Government will act decisively in response to any such threats or violence. Your statements are very much welcome.

The biggest threat or violence against the LGBT community in Singapore, however, does not come in the form of an automatic weapon. For now, at least. It comes in the form of state-sanctioned threat of violence, by way of a 2 year imprisonment term for the criminalization of their private, consensual exercise of their right to love under s377A of the Penal Code.

I understand that there is a need to balance conflicting interests in society particularly on sensitive issues. But this is no mere symbolic, moral yardstick. It is a serious, punitive, penal provision. Saying you will not seek to actively enforce it is cold comfort to those affected, who continue to live their daily lives stigmatized as criminals, under the threat of the Sword of Damocles falling on their heads at any time. I understand that there is a religious conservative segment of society not yet ready to accept the LGBT community.

Removing s377A does not force these religious conservatives to change their views, nor does it affect their daily lives. It merely removes the illegality of the act, and does not indicate that you encourage or promote it. Your Government can still maintain a conservative social policy even if s377A is repealed. Society’s values change with time. Discrimination and prejudices do not disappear overnight.

But removing instances of positive, overt threats of violence in our national legislation must be the first step. The rest can happen in due course. If we genuinely want to protect the LGBT community against threats and violence, let us start by removing the legal, punitive threat of violence that is currently entrenched against them in our Penal Code. For your kind consideration.

Yours, A straight, moderate Singaporean.

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