Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There is a reason for the law


From TODAY, Voices
Wednesday September 10, 2008

THE GAY DEBATE
Homosexuality is anti-social

Letter from Heikel Bafana

I REFER to “Stop making a mockery of Rule of Law: Let’s accept gays” (Sept 8). I must disagree with the assertions of Mr Ho Kwon Ping.

Mr Ho calls for homosexual behaviour to be decriminalised. Whatever perception he has gleaned from the official attitude, the views of large segments of our society against the homosexual lifestyle are neither ambiguous, ambivalent nor schizophrenic.

Whether due to religious belief or personal family values, homosexuality is widely seen in Singapore society as aberrant behaviour. I concede, of course, that this view is not shared by members of the gay community.

Mr Ho’s assertion that only “the most fervently fundamentalist Christians or Muslims” in Singapore care about making gay sex a criminal act is baseless, and indeed, false.

The Penal Code provision represents the manner in which the law expresses our society’s commonality of understanding as to what is to be allowed and what is not.

Encouraging a family unit that is able to procreate and rear children who will contribute to the future of this country is the prime imperative of our society, and legislating against any behaviour — including accepting widespread homosexual behaviour, which attacks the sacrosanct nature of the family unit — is perfectly acceptable.

The Rule of Law constitutes the sum total of the social contract which we, as citizens, agree to live by. In a multi-racial and multi-faith society like Singapore, the Rule of Law is a delicate alchemy of competing racial, cultural and religious demands. It cannot be subject to change merely because of the high-pitched calls of a small segment of our society.

I concede that in the context of the prevailing practice of the criminal justice system here, the belief may arise that homosexual acts are not subject to criminal prosecution. However, this belief is not entirely accurate.

Similar non-prosecutions by the authorities are also the norm, for example, in cases of mischief or of assault involving simple hurt.

However — and this is the critical distinction — the victim still has the right to lodge a Magistrate’s Complaint and undertake a prosecution himself. From this perspective, why should a person who feels aggrieved as a victim of homosexual behaviour be deprived of such a right to prosecute an assailant?

To achieve acceptance, tolerance or respect, perhaps it is more effective for the gay community to address in substance the issues which lead society to frown upon homosexuality. Such engagement would be more effective than getting tied up in knots about the law.

Mr Ho calls for an act of boldness to allow gays to “realise their dreams”. To believe that changing a piece of legislation will attain this result is misconceived.

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