An article by Singaporean Professor Tommy Koh was disturbing not just for its conclusions but, most importantly, for his insinuation that the opposition to the repeal of Section 377A has come mainly from religious communities (Section 377A: Science, religion and the law; Sept 25).
Actually, I think there are many freethinkers in Singapore who have strong reservations about the issue too, and we should take time to find out more about that.
To restrict the discussion to “sin versus crime” would be a misleading approach because we can get entangled in discussions about the law remaining a colonial anachronism and irrelevant today as there have been no prosecution precedences.
These arguments obscure the real issue – what do the majority of Singaporeans think about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) culture? Should there not be an attempt to find this out before deciding on the issue of 377A?
If most Singaporeans opine that, while tolerant, they are against the further liberalisation of attitudes towards the LGBT culture. In that case then, Section 377A should remain to serve as a symbol of our society’s consensus.
A new direction for crucial social policy should not stem from just comparing pros and cons of what’s known today.
Human behaviour changes over time and its impact on society may not be as benign as what we originally expected.
The “facts, science and reason” of today may not be reliable for predicting human behaviour in the longer term.
Thus, there may be value in sticking to tradition and taking more time to observe what happens in other countries. We must do this before taking more liberalising steps with regard to the LGBT culture.
Written by: Leong Mun Wai
This article first appeared here.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2018. The headline read ‘Find out what most in S’pore think about LGBT culture’.