Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There is simply no need for anti-gay law

From TODAY, Voices
Wednesday September 10, 2008

Letter from Tang Li

I REFER to Mr Ho Kwon Ping’s “Stop making a mockery of Rule of Law: Let’s accept gays” (Sept 8), and I would like to applaud him.

Like Mr Ho, I have to ask myself if there is any justification for keeping a private act between consenting adults, criminal.

During last year’s debate on the repealing of Section 377A, Nominated Member of Parliament Thio Li-Ann argued passionately that repealing the act was bad for public morality. In her address, she noted that “Diversity is not license for perversity”.

The majority of Parliament agreed with this and the result was the retention of 377A, but with a promise from the Government that the law would not be enforced.

Mr Ho rightly pointed out that the idea of having a law that the Government has no intention of enforcing makes a mockery of the Rule of Law, something which is central to the heart of Singapore’s rules-based society. The proponents of the ban on homosexual intercourse spoke passionately about the need to defend public morality, but they failed to provide a logically-sound reason for their case.

At best, Professor Thio argued that private acts would have public repercussions as in the area of public health. She pointed out that HIV/Aids was spread most efficiently by anal sex.

What she failed to prove was how anal sex between two consenting men was more conducive to the spread of HIV/Aids than anal sex between heterosexuals.

The Ministry of Health’s statistics on HIV found that in 2007 there were 255 heterosexuals infected, versus 145 homosexual and bisexual infections, something that nobody seemed to have taken note of.

Furthermore, the defenders of public morality didn’t seem too troubled by the fact that the greatest rise in HIV among women was from loyally-married women who were infected by their husbands.

So, where is the premise for having a law against consensual homosexual activity? Singapore is socially-conservative, but does that mean it is necessary to have laws — albeit non-enforced ones — that discriminate against one group without protecting another?

Ministry of Health statistics on HIV show that anal sex between consenting adult men is no less of a threat to public health than sex between heterosexuals. So, why then do we need laws if there is no threat to public health or security? Is it because the majority of people disapprove of it? Surely, the people who disapprove of such acts would continue to disapprove of them regardless of whether laws against them exist or not?

There is no rational premise for laws against homosexuality, so why do we need them? More importantly, why do we have such laws if we have no intention of enforcing them? Is it because we know that such laws have no benefit to society? I may not like homosexuals or homosexuality, but I can see no reason for laws against what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom.

I salute Mr Ho for taking a stand against the current mockery of the Rule of Law.
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