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TOC Feature: 377A – To prevent what harm?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 10, 2007

By Michael Hor

Curiously, the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of 2007, proclaimed as the result of only the second comprehensive review of Singapore’s 136 year old criminal code, is likely to be remembered more for what it did not do than for what it did.

To be sure, there is much reform in the Bill, and much that is uncontroversially needed. Many of the changes are technical in nature and would require some acquaintance with the intricacies of criminal law to appreciate.

Not so the issue of whether consensual gay sexual activity between adults ought to continue to be criminalized. When the proposed amendments were unveiled in November last year, few other matters in the document so dominated public discourse. Yet after many months, much feedback and careful deliberation, nothing has changed.

The now famous, or infamous, section 377A which prohibits “gross indecency” between men, is to be preserved. The press release in conjunction with the introduction of the Bill contains no more than two cryptic sentences explaining why this position was finally taken.

How is the line to be drawn between what is a crime and what is not? Criminal lawyers speak of the two elements of harm and culpability. We are concerned here only with the first – criminal activity must entail some sort of recognizable and more or less tangible harm to others. The criminal law declares it to be a crime, as notice to all that if anyone wishes nonetheless to engage in them, there will be consequences. The rules of criminal procedure and evidence prescribe the manner in which someone is to be prosecuted and found guilty of a crime.

Ultimately, the rules of sentencing and punishment govern how the criminal offender is to be punished. The reason for criminal punishment has been variously explained as incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation of the offender, deterrence of would-be offenders, and satisfaction of the victim and of the public.

Does 377A match up?

Just how far 377A is from this model of criminality is striking.

The government has been strangely silent about the harm that 377A is intended to prevent. Indeed consistent statements over a number of years from the highest officials of the land lead any reasonable observer to think that the government no longer believes, if indeed it did before, that the sort of activity contemplated by 377A is harmful at all. If corroboration were required, it lies in the repeated assurances of the government that 377A will not be enforced – apparently because there is no harm to be prevented, no offender to be rehabilitated, no potential offender to be deterred, and no victim to be satisfied.

One might, of course, disagree with the government’s position on the harmfulness of 377A activity, but once that position is taken, how can it be right for 377A activity to remain a crime? The fact that “public feedback” had been “emotional, divided and strongly expressed” is interesting, but surely not the end of the matter – for informed lawmaking must critically examine why there is such a difference of opinion.

Those who seek the repeal of 377A have rather less to explain – if it is the official position that the activity concerned is not harmful, or sufficiently harmful to require penal consequences, it does seem to follow that it ought no longer to be a crime. Those who advocate the retention of 377A are in a more difficult position, for any convincing argument for their view must rest on a belief which is contrary to the implicit official one – that 377A activity does indeed involve a significant enough harm. The government’s decision to retain 377A in the light of its rejection of the principle argument for its retention – that of harm to the community – is surprising.

It was not retained because it has any merit in itself, or because the government buys into the arguments of those seeking its retention. It was left in the Penal Code because of a desire not to offend those who seek its retention. Yet the management of activity which does not really harm but merely offend ought surely to involve a balance of interests – between the interests of those who want to engage in the activity and those who are offended by others engaging in it.

How do the advocates of retention benefit by leaving 377A in the books? Not much at all – for the “prohibition” will not be enforced, people will continue to engage that activity and they will, presumably, continue to be offended.

The power of symbolism?

But would the mere existence of 377A not be a needed symbol, in their view, of disapproval?

Perhaps, but what a tattered and confused symbol it will be – there is not to be, and has never been, such a symbol for “gross indecency” between two women, nor is there any for “gross indecency” between a man and another man who has been sexually reassigned surgically as a woman, and what one might have thought to be a far less controversial symbol of “family values” – the offence of enticing a married woman in order to commit adultery with her – is to be repealed, apparently without the objection of those who argued for the retention of 377A.

On the other side of the equation, how does retention of 377A harm those who might engage in activity “prohibited” by that provision? It is true that there are these assurances of non-enforcement, but this is not the same as a repeal of 377A. The present policy of non-enforcement can be changed, and changed without notice for whatever reason the government of the day deems fit.

More than that, while 377A may not be enforced, discriminatory policies can potentially be built on the logic of its existence – thus public “entertainment” licences can conceivably be denied to speakers who are thought to be sympathetic to 377A activity, on the basis that it is, after all, still criminal. Societies seeking the repeal of 377A can be denied registration on a similar ground.

The balance of interests that is struck by the retention of 377A is not a happy one. In order to spare the feelings of those who object to such activity, which the government acknowledges to be insufficiently harmful to be enforced, 377A is to remain, with the potential to be used without notice, and to be invoked as the basis of other discriminatory policies.

The government displays much wisdom in letting “the situation evolve”, but situations like these do not evolve by the force of nature. It is trite that in a democracy conflicting ideas and those who hold them contend for the community’s acceptance. The role of government, where no sufficient harm is involved, must be to be neutral, allowing both parties to try to persuade the public of their views. Neutrality is not achieved by retaining 377A, but by its repeal.

Employment of the criminal law to prohibit activity which the government does not really think ought to be prohibited, on the sole basis that “the majority” wants it to be prohibited, is fraught with danger. The moral force of the criminal law is blunted if there are crimes which are, the government assures the public, never to be enforced, and its “perpetrators” never brought to court and punished.

It demeans the individual to have his behaviour, which is presumably important to him and which the government does not think is harmful to society, to be labeled a crime, and him a criminal. The criminal laws are the ground rules of our society and if it is to be accorded the respect it deserves, it must be reserved for conduct which the government considers to be clearly harmful to society.

 

About the author: Professor Michael Hor teaches at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. His areas of research include criminal law, evidence and constitutional law. Professor Hor contributed this article to TOC in his personal capacity.

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80 Responses to “TOC Feature: 377A – To prevent what harm?”

  1. Gerald said

    The learned professor has gone into great depths to explain that acts prohibited under S377A are not harmful to society. Social conservatives, myself included, would argue that they are. Both of these are moral stands (Yes, even the liberal stance is a moral stand which is no more rational than the conservative stance.)

    Since we are living in a democracy, not a theocracy, it is only natural that our laws to take a stand based on the will of the majority of voters. Consistently, every poll that has been done on Singaporean adults indicates that homosexual acts are still not acceptable to the majority. Even if a referendum on repealing S377A were to be conducted tomorrow, voters will still vote to retain it.

    Some have argued that since 377A is not enforced, why have it. They have missed the point and intent of this piece of legislation. 377A is a form of “signposting” — a symbol and indicator of our society’s values (based on the values of the majority). Just like the MDA’s symbolic blocking of 100 pornographic websites.

    So until our society’s social values take a sharp turn to the left in the coming years, we can expect S377A to remain, notwithstanding valiant attempts by the gay lobby to have it overturned.

  2. sick of all this shit said

    By Gerald’s own admission , the liberal stance is no more rational than the conservative stand. It thus follows both should be given equal consideration.
    What makes your conservative stance more worthy of consideration than the liberals’?
    Your so called conservative stance is based on religious edicts , its imposition of which is an imposition of your religious beliefs on others who do not share your religion.Why should others who do not share your view of your world be subjected to your rules and your moral systems.Instead , we should ascribe to Universal Human Rights as declared by the UN and use it as the basis of acceptance of each others moral systems
    Prejudice and bigotry is often cloaked in religious proclamations – look at Black slavery and Apartheid , and refusal of universal suffrage for women.

  3. Ned Stark said

    Gerald,
    the idea of a conservative majority has often been invoked. But the question is what exactly is the conservative majority? And what do they actually stand for?

    While it may be true that there are conservatives who support the retention of the law, likewise there are also conservatives who find homosexuality a moral abomination but they also feel that the law should not intervene in what is essentially a “peculiarity” for lack of a better word in one person. Skewed surveys do not help matters. Not to mention the strident cries which could amount to calls for persecution by certain groups who can be said to be protected by law against criticism in a manner of speaking. And I find great force in this statement:

    Employment of the criminal law to prohibit activity which the government does not really think ought to be prohibited, on the sole basis that “the majority” wants it to be prohibited, is fraught with danger. The moral force of the criminal law is blunted if there are crimes which are, the government assures the public, never to be enforced, and its “perpetrators” never brought to court and punished.

    To treat 377A as a mere sign post is to demean the purpose of the law. And that is not good for the legal system of a country. Furthermore if the law must intervene in this instance of a person’s trait then why not intervene in instances where a person refuses to rescue someone who is being beaten up on the MRT? Or a baby who is drowning?

  4. Sophie said

    Gerald,

    I think that the counterpoint to your argument (one which you would have anticipated) would be the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and the danger that that they may hold in a society. Inter-racial marriages was once considered by the majority of the Americans to be morally wrong and harmful to society and it took a very brave bench to overturn the illegality of inter-racial marriages (correct me if I’m wrong). 377A is a statute that wrongfully discriminates and is an example of the “tyranny of the majority”. Of course a democracy is based on the principles of majoritarianism and representation and it is rightfully so. But there are always exceptions to the rule, exceptions that pose harm to the discriminated and stigmatised individual.

    And as for 377A being a form of “signposting”, I don’t agree that such symbolic laws should exist in the first place. But if I ever come round to agreeing to it, I’d like to post up some potential laws against adultery. I’m sure the majority of Singaporeans will consider it harmful.

  5. Gerald wrote:
    “Consistently, every poll that has been done on Singaporean adults indicates that homosexual acts are still not acceptable to the majority. Even if a referendum on repealing S377A were to be conducted tomorrow, voters will still vote to retain it.”

    This is not true. There has not been a poll that asks if 377A should be retained. All the polls so far have asked questions along the line of whether homosexuality is disgusting. This indicates nothing. I think picking your nose and eating the residue from it is disgusting. But I also think it’s absurd to outlaw picking your nose and eating the residue.

  6. If we want to be on high moral ground, we should let the law to stay as it is.
    If you argue that more might vote for it to be abolished by referendum vote, the outcome is 50:50. If only Singaporeans can vote, it should be 60:40. Majority shall reject.
    Please don’t degenerate Singapore into a liberal state where pornography is everywhere to be seen.
    You repeal this law, next you repeal pornography law.

  7. Andrew Loh said

    It is a fallacy to think that the government rules by majority vote. In fact, ministers themselves have said, several times, that the PAP govt does not make policies based on popular votes.

    If they did, unpopular policies like CPF changes, public transport, public housing, etc would not have been implemented.

    Thus, to argue about whether a majority of the people support or accept homosexuality is moot, really.

    As Lee Kuan Yew already said and implied, if gay people can add to the economy – by their talents, creativity and so on – the govt will consider legalising it.

    So, isn’t it already very clear that the govt is only using the “majority of singaporeans are against it” as an excuse. Personally, I suspect it is because of the many christian MPs in Parliament who object to it.

    But in time to come, if the economic imperative or benefits is substantial, the govt will legalise homosexuality.

    Just as they did casinos – despite the majority being against it.

    So there.

    Money talks.

  8. Sophie said

    Yes, money/economy does talk in our sunny island state. It’s unfortunate but it’s been a running theme since independence. I do agree with you that it is probable that the government is using the “majority” as an excuse.

    And just a note about slippery slope arguments. Sometimes they are valid. But other times, they can be fallacious and oh-so-absurd. The one in post 6 fits in the latter category. ‘Nuff said.

    What I would like to know though is whether the reason for this social conservatism is due mostly to religion. If it is, I’m surprised that the issue of abortion hasn’t taken Singapore by storm like it has in the US.

  9. Gerald said

    Sick of All, you said “Your so called conservative stance is based on religious edicts, its imposition of which is an imposition of your religious beliefs on others who do not share your religion.”

    I didn’t say my beliefs should be imposed on others. (They can’t, anyway.) But by insisting that 377A should be abolished because it is “wrong”, aren’t you taking a liberal moral stand and trying to impose your beliefs on others? It’s a double standard really. Conservatives can’t impose their beliefs on others but liberals can.

    I was arguing for the majority, not for conservatives, to decide. “Tyranny of the majority” is a natural counter argument, Sophie. But with regards to slavery, interracial marriages, segregation and Apartheid, I would argue that the (silent) majority view DID prevail. Abe Lincoln, Harry Truman and FW de Klerk would not have made such bold moves if they didn’t think that a majority of their electorate agreed with them.

    Yes, out govt has lots of double standards and money talks for them. I am in no way defending the govt in this case. I’m defending the process of democracy.

  10. shianux said

    “I didn’t say my beliefs should be imposed on others. (They can’t, anyway.) But by insisting that 377A should be abolished because it is “wrong”, aren’t you taking a liberal moral stand and trying to impose your beliefs on others? It’s a double standard really. Conservatives can’t impose their beliefs on others but liberals can.”

    This is a favourite argument of those who wish the status quo be retained, but it clearly demonstrates sloppy thinking.

    First, how would repealing s 377a “impose” on those who see the law retained? Give an example, ANY example. I doubt you’d be able to find one. If s 377a is repealed, NOTHING is imposed on those opposed to homosexuality, apart from the KNOWLEDGE that it is repealed.

    Ask yourself, how does that translate to “impose”? Are there any non-consenting parties that have to bear the cost of the repeal of s 377a? None.

    Conversely, if s 377a is retained, clearly SOMETHING is imposed on homosexuals: they have to bear the cost of being punished for engaging in homosexual sex acts. Regardless of whether the law is enforced or not, the cost IS THERE.

    So please, dispense with the sloppy thinking.

  11. Gerald,

    “I was arguing for the majority, not for conservatives, to decide. ”

    Decisions, such as repealing 337A should not be made just because “the majority says so”. Such a decision should be made soley based on it’s merits, supported by facts and reason. It just happens that alot of the time the majority makes the right decision. But this does not guarantee that the majority makes the right decision ALL the time.

  12. shoestring said

    There is a difference between “imposing one’s beliefs on others” and “imposing on others”. I think Gerald was referring to the former, not the latter in which case, he would be right about double standards if “liberals” impose their beliefs on the “conservatives” by telling them what they should or should not believe. It goes both ways.

    And how liberal can one be if one does not consider the opinions of the so-called “conservatives”?

  13. shianux said

    “There is a difference between “imposing one’s beliefs on others” and “imposing on others”. I think Gerald was referring to the former, not the latter in which case, he would be right about double standards if “liberals” impose their beliefs on the “conservatives” by telling them what they should or should not believe. It goes both ways.”

    Nope, sorry, you are wrong again.

    The issue is not what conservatives think. I couldn’t give a flying **** what conservatives think or SAY. I support the freedom of any person to think or say WHATEVER THEY WANT. I support freedom of speech and thought unconditionally.

    HOWEVER.

    There is a clear distinction between thinking, believing and saying something, and USING THE FORCE OF LAW to impose YOUR thoughts on OTHER people.

    THIS is what I mean by “impose”: hijacking the coercive power of government for your own values.

    One more thing: those who support the repeal are more than just “liberals”. I am a libertarian. We do not consider ourselves liberals OR conservatives.

    *Edited by moderator for language.

  14. Aaron Ng said

    Gerald,

    I respect your conservative views but can I ask you if you agree with the principle of innocent unless proven guilty? If you do, I’m afraid you should support the repeal of 377A on the grounds that harm has not been conclusively proven. Having 377A in place presupposes that homosexuality is a crime and you clearly indicated that it’s not, since you recognise that there’s an ongoing debate between pro and anti homosexuality camps.

  15. […] follow comment was left by Gerald in a comment on The Online Citizen in response to an article by Michael Hor: The learned professor has gone into great depths to explain that acts prohibited under S377A are […]

  16. KeeN said

    Thank you, Gerald, for speaking up for the silent majority.

    Like Gerald, I want S377A to remain and I will lend my voice to the conservative camp which I believe still forms the majority and our voices will prevail. I hope more will stand up and be counted at this crucial time of debate that has ramifications on Singapore’s future, despite some arguing there is no harm involved.

    I don’t need a law degree to see where this will potentially lead us. Repeal S377A, what next? Gay marriages? Why can’t we seriously take note of the experiences of many countries which have legalised homosexuality? There is a slope we’re pushing ourselves towards, and I’ll call a spade, a spade, it is darn slippery.

    Talking about conservatives, liberals, libertarians and what not, we have absolutely ignored a camp that will reap what we sow: our future generations (to say it plainly, our children or those yet unborn). Who’s going to speak on their behalf when self-absorbed individuals squabble over equality and freedom of speech and don’t seem to give a hoot about others that come after them? How do they factor in the equation? What kind of S’pore do we want to leave them with? Is it a society where divorces, adultery, abortions, gay marriages become the norm?

    I support Gerald’s view that the law is an indicator of society’s values and an important sign post. Why should it be seen otherwise? How else will the outside world know what we truly value and hold dear as a nation? Deep down, I know its more than money.

    Consider the impact (or harm) this will have on families in the long run. Just for a moment. Consider.

  17. MG said

    Keen,

    I took a moment to consider.

    The future looks so bright without 377A.

  18. Gerald said

    Hi all,

    Thank you for all your comments. I expected to be ‘lynched’ for my comments, but I’m grateful that the response so far has been very civil.

    Before I go further, I’d like to state that I do NOT hate or dislike gays. I am not homophobic and I do not wish any harm on fellow human beings who are gay. My uni roommate in the US was gay and we got along great. (And no, I did not leave the room when I had to change clothes.) I don’t have many other gay friends, though I wish I did, so that I could better understand where homosexuals are coming from.

    —-

    I agree with Aaron and others that the way questions are framed in surveys will determine the responses. But if a national referendum were to be held in Singapore with the question:

    “Should the law banning any male person from committing, abetting the commission of, procuring or attempting to procure the commission of acts of gross indecency with another male person be repealed?” (I’m using the terminology from S377A itself.)

    …what do you think the majority vote of those 21 and above would be?

    I believe more than 50% will vote to retain the law. I agree that the crowd is not always wise. But why choose this issue to disregard the will of the crowd? Is it because the liberal stand in this situation is morally superior?

  19. Gerald,

    “I agree that the crowd is not always wise. But why choose this issue to disregard the will of the crowd?”

    The reason why the will of the crowd (assuming that there is indeed a majority who wants S377A to remain) should be disregarded in this instance is that the crowd is acting stupidly.

    If the “conservative majority” wants 377A to remain, the burden of proof lies with them to show that the benefits of retaining S377A outweighs the costs of abolishing it. So far I have not seen any evidence that abolishing S377A has any detrimental effects on society or even anyone. In other words, there’s no tangible benefit for keeping S337A whatsoever. Conversely, retaining S337A takes away many of the rights heterosexual people have from the homosexuals. There might even be an economic cost to it like driving away talented homosexuals from Singapore.

    “Is it because the liberal stand in this situation is morally superior?”

    No. It’s got nothing to do with morality at all. Morals are lousy reasons to base laws upon. Just think about the “moral” laws that condone honour killings of women who are raped in certain societies. The liberal stand (if that’s what you call supportors of gay rights) is based only on reason. We simply see no benefit in keeping S377A.

  20. LifesLikeThat said

    KeeN,

    Your arguments can also be applied to adultery, abortion and what not.

    But we don’t see them being legislated against, do we?

    You are using the infamous “slippery slope” argument. If that were so, society would never progress or move forward – as there will be and can be any number of reasons for not doing anything about any particular issue.

    The best example i recent years would be the bar top dancing one. Our great Vivian Balakrishnan painted a whole scenario on how “blood will be shed for liberalising this policy”.

    But the reality is that what he envisioned (or warned about) has not taken place.

    I would argue the same for section 377A. It is all speculation – that this will happen and that will happen – if we repeal it.

    I think sometimes we take the slippery slope argument too seriously and too far.

  21. WeiHan said

    We can easily see victims for adultery and yet there is no law in the book prohibiting it. Yet, as Michael Hor wrote, the acts 377A is prohibiting has no victims at all but people saying nothing about adultery are arguing for retaining it.

  22. shoestring said

    No victims?

    And yes, libertarians believe that people should have the freedom to DO and think as they like (according to my lousy Oxford dictionary). But why is it that people can DO and think as they like but only on condition that you cannot “impose YOUR thoughts on OTHER people”? Must be some made up law.

    I don’t buy the crap about using the force of law. No one is demanding. They are exercising their right, just like libertarians, gays and what not, to speak up and lobby for what they believe in.

    But I guess those who practice double standards see only one standard – theirs. Otherwise, its always wrong, and wrong again.

    By the way, I came across a comment by a gay at Mr Wang’s site that mentioned activists who run gay baths and conflict of interest. Fresh angle that may throw some light as to why this law needs to be repealed of urgently. No slippery slope? I am not so sure.

  23. shianux said

    “Must be some made up law.”

    No, the reason why libertarians believe that you cannot impose your thoughts on other people through coercion is not because of some made-up law, but simply because it is morally unjust. The foundation of libertarianism (or classical liberal thought if you like) is that individual autonomy and free will is the fundamental reason for the existence of government: government power exists only to protect individual free will.

    This is why we have criminal laws prohibiting homicide, rape and theft and variations of those three. We punish people because they subvert the free will of others. Murder takes away the life of another without their consent, sexual offences invades a person’s body without their consent, theft takes away a person’s property without their consent. Deceptive and fraudulent behaviour is criminalised because fraud invalidates consent.

    The question is, is it morally just when you prohibit consensual acts between adults in private? What is the reason for prohibiting those acts? There can be no moral reason to do so, apart from giving force to the repugnant desires of some to intrude on other people’s business.

    “I don’t buy the crap about using the force of law.”

    Perhaps you did not understand what I meant. When I say using the force of law, I was referring to the existence of s 377a itself. Its very existence IS using the force of law to penalise some people without any logical or morally coherent basis. Of course people have a right to lobby, that is perfectly within their right. If they wish to express or think whatever they feel, I support that unconditionally.

    The difference lies in using the power of government to FORCE OTHER people to live according to how they think people should live. There is a word for this: Fascism.

    “Fresh angle that may throw some light as to why this law needs to be repealed of urgently.”

    I apologise if I sound rude, but I think that you have provided an extremely stupid argument. If we follow your line of reasoning, then it is also a conflict of interest for humans to demand for human rights, because human beings have a vested interest in being treated like humans.

    Whether there are commercial interests involved is irrelevant. We again return to the central argument: it is morally unjust to use the force of law to coerce and punish people on the basis of consensual acts between adults in private, simply because some people disagree.

  24. sarek_home said

    Taipei Times – archives
    THE LAW: Taiwan is one of the few countries where adultery can land you in jail.

    Those raised the adultery point in contrast to 377A have raised a good point.

    Over time, laws advance in terms of domestic violence and martial rape. It has come to a point where the public realize certain acts should not be ignored because they are “domestic” affairs.

    The 377A issue is a case where the certain public still think acts should not be ignored.

    While repealing the law may be seen as endorsing the act, it is more likely repealing the law shows that the society has better understanding and respect of where the public rights and individual rights draw and showing more respect of individual rights.

    There is always this saying:

    I disagree everything you say but I will defend your rights to say it.

  25. Gerald:

    A few months ago I would’ve written long arguments to contradict you. Fast forward a few months, I completely understand where you’re coming at. There is no reason why liberalism should be chosen over conservatism, and of course vice versa. I have come to realise that all moral stands and systems are arbitrary. As Nietzsche famously puts it: God is dead.

    So to your question of why we should ignore the will of the majority, I should think that it is because it is the morality of our times. In today’s world, we have to respect the rights of everyone else regardless of religion/belief, race, sexuality… you name it. Why should it be so? Ultimately, I can argue that it all comes down to fairness, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, to “己所不欲,勿施于人”, but why should this be so? There is not really a reason to justify it. Morality (internationally) has evolved to this. This is something we have to impose upon the conservatives as unreasonably and unjustified as how, centuries ago, conservatives prosecuted liberal thinkers.

    In short, we should ignore the will of the majority not because the liberal stand in this situation is morally superior. It is because that’s how the world is like today.

  26. shoestring said

    Shianux,

    “The difference lies in using the power of government to FORCE OTHER people to live according to how they think people should live.”

    In itself, this statement seems to make sense. But why do laws exist? Can any vocal Tom Dick or Harry actually use the power of the government to force other people to live according to how they think they should live simply by voicing out their concerns and points of view and expressing their wishes? Is the government any use then?

    Alright, let’s say it makes perfect sense, then shouldn’t people be allowed to act to prevent the possibility of the same happening to them? As in what has happened in the US California where “mom” and “dad” are now considered taboo because they are offensive to gays? When the rest of society has to reorder their lives to the whims and fancies of the gays?

    “‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ banished by California
    Schwarzenegger signs law banning anything perceived as negative to ‘gays’

    October 13, 2007

    “Mom and Dad” as well as “husband and wife” have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose.”

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammyboymod/messages?msg=155431.1

    Face it. It’s a battle of rights. That’s the world in practice. There can be no absolute libertarianism nor can libertarians, be they rights theorists of consequentialists etc., force others to stop doing what they feel is right.

    As for morals, you and I would be going around in circles because we all have different sets of moral standards. Again, it is a battle of beliefs, values and moral standards.

    Lastly, the fact that gay activists run gay baths and provide facilities for gay sex is extremely relevant. Why is it so urgent a matter to repeal the act? Is it really because gays are so oppressed and persecuted that it is a matter of life and death, that they can’t function as human beings? No. There are gays out there who aren’t as vocal who feel perfectly safe and accepted here, who have other priorities in life than pressing for gay rights incessantly. So why does this group of activists feel so compelled? They have special extraordinary needs? Or is it because the law is an obstacle that prevents them from operating their businesses the way they want?

    That’s manipulation of the gullible, to say the least.

  27. Sophie said

    Umm.. No. Read the senate bill properly.

    http://www.eqca.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=9oINKWMCF&b=2292609&ct=3622857
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800/sb_777_bill_20070223_introduced.html

    There is no prohibition of the words “mom and dad” or “husband and wife”. The legislation merely revises discrimination in schools to include sexual orientation. I guess it’s no surprise then that the conservatives are up in arms over the bill and have basically exaggerated the consequences of the bill.

    In any case, the bill is intended to protect against discrimination or bullying by teachers/students based on religion, race, sexual orientation etc. Maybe it’s just me, but its so intuitively necessary for this bill to exist in any society to protect against discrimination that is hurtful, emotionally and physically. I’d personally be elated if such a bill existed in Singapore.

  28. Sophie said

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_777&sess=CUR&house=B&author=kuehl

    Forgot to add the main link. I didn’t have the time to go through the whole legislation but do feel free to go through it and pick out the parts you think will endanger the heterosexual community in California.

  29. WeiHan said

    Shoestring credibility is doubted as he didn’t even read the bill correctly when he wanted to use it. He simply didn’t even get the fact correctly.

  30. shianux said

    Shoestring:

    “But why do laws exist?”

    I have tried to answer this question as concisely as I could in the previous comment, perhaps you did not notice. The purpose of law is to protect the will of individuals from being subverted by others. I have provided the examples to illustrate what I mean.

    “Alright, let’s say it makes perfect sense, then shouldn’t people be allowed to act to prevent the possibility of the same happening to them?”

    Ok, to be fair to you, let us ignore the fact that you did not read the actual legislation properly. Let us assume that reality IS as you have described.

    Then it is clear, you have conflated 2 separate issues. I am arguing for the repeal of s 377a. I am not arguing for social conservatives to stop being conservative. I’m NOT arguing for social conservatives to accept gays or like gays or love gays. I’m not arguing for social conservatives to stop using words like “marriage” or “mom” and “dad”. Most importantly, I am not arguing for any laws that would FORCE social conservatives to do any of the above. AND FURTHERMORE, if there were any movements that advocate the implementations of such laws, I would strenuously argue AGAINST the implementation of such coercive laws.

    You are assuming that just because I support the repeal of s 377a I would also support laws that would coerce conservatives into doing things they do not want to. Nothing can be further from the truth. They are two separate issues. Do not try to confuse the issue by conflating them.

    The fact is simple: my arguments are fair and equal and cuts both ways. No one should be forced by law to live their lives according to the dictates of others, nor bear the costs of other people’s thoughts, as long as there is no harm or lack of consent.

    “Again, it is a battle of beliefs, values and moral standards.”

    I’m sorry but I do not ascribe to the notion of moral relativity. Morals are objective, humanistic and universal. The only reason that there is a “battle”, is because some people are RIGHT, and some people are WRONG. In this case, those who believe it is correct to use the law to oppress others simply because they disagree are clearly WRONG. As I have said before, there is a word to describe this: Fascism.

    “Why is it so urgent a matter to repeal the act?”

    It is very easy to call someone gullible just because you disagree, but like I have said already, so what if there are commercial interests involved? Ok, let us give you the benefit of doubt, assume that there are those who do have a commercial interest in the repeal. What about then all those who do not? What about straight people like me who support the repeal?

    I support the repeal on moral grounds. I don’t care about the commercial interests: I only want to see the right thing done. By using the word “gullible”, are you implying that I am too stupid to understand what I am supporting?

    I think you should see that it is clear, through all that I have written, not only have I thought long and hard about what I believe in: I have also formulated a comprehensive framework for understanding and arguing for my beliefs on this issue.

    The question in return is: do you know what you are arguing for? do you have logically and morally coherent arguments for believing what you believe in? Or is it all just purely emotional reflex?

  31. I think this link would indicate what shoestring is referring to.

  32. Antidisestablishmentarianism said

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55413

  33. shianux said

    unfortunately WND is the least credible of sources to interpret legislation. Lawyers are taught to interpret the law by reading the text of the legislation itself, not alarmist religious fundamentalists who know nothing about the law, legal interpretation and have every incentive to spread fear uncertainty and doubt about the truth.

  34. Shianux,

    Just wondering what’s your libertarian view on whether incest should be illegal, especially if the couple decides not to have any children so that the arugment that in-breeding increases the risk of genetic disorders of the child born does not apply.

  35. shianux said

    I Must Be Stupid:

    In a nutshell, I have not formed a clear opinion regarding this issue.

    The usual prohibitions apply: it is rape if it is non-consensual or if there is duress involved, statutory rape if any party is below the age of consent, and assault if there is any violence involved.

    Firstly, let us examine what is “law”. Human society functions by rules. There are formal rules (law), and informal rules (norms). Generally, most laws evolved out of social norms. That is the reason why we prohibit things like rape, murder and theft.

    We find it unacceptable to let someone kill another because we would not want the same done to us. We find it unacceptable to let someone invade the body of another by force because we would not want the same done to us. We find it unacceptable to let someone take the property of another by force because we would not want the same done to us.

    Acts like “incest” fall into a special category, what I would call “norms” that evolved out of collective human wisdom. Societies prohibit incest because human wisdom tells us that incest results in offspring that suffer more genetic disorders than other pairings. People in the past might have no knowledge of genetic science, but they certainly can interpret the results to mean that god (or gods) have shown their displeasure at such couplings by inflicting such disorders on their offspring. As such, the social norm against incest has come about.

    Should people continue expressing and feeling the way they do about incest? Yes they have every right to think and feel the way they do, and to express it as well. Those social norms exist for a reason. But I am not sure if those feelings should translate into formal rules (law) punishing consenting adults who enter into incestuous relationships.

    The reason is because the context of the relationship involved makes a huge difference. Within a family context, it is very easy for an older relative to have undue influence on the decisions of a younger person, such that it is highly possible that one party may not have meaningfully consented to a relationship, but could have been manipulated into one. Without meaningful consent, harm is clearly present. The question is how do we formulate a law that takes such contexts into account, or is an outright ban the only way to prevent older family members from taking advantage of younger family members?

  36. WhatIsRight said

    After reading all the posts, this is what I’m reading…

    Pro Repeal 377A
    -it’s wrong to criminalize homosexual activities in within the privacy of consensual adults. They have their human rights to their desires.
    -it’s wrong for religious institutions to retain this legal section because it uses legal means to impose their moral standards on others.
    -repealing 377A only has benefits (the homosexuals) and no effects on those who disagree
    -when it comes on restricting human rights, majority cannot be considered a legislative factor (this doesn’t sound accurately stated…correct this if desired.)
    -This is not about homosexual agenda; this is plain human rights issue. Gays must have their rights to be legally free in living their lifestyle in Singapore.

    Anti Repeal 377A
    -Repealing 377A forces acceptance of homosexuality that is against group’s moral standards
    -Majority do not accept homosexuality, so remain status quo, especially since law not enforced on private consensual adult acts.
    -Singaporean homosexuals do have the same rights as any citizens and not lacking.
    -Repealing 377A would mean the homosexuals will have a louder voice to achieve what they want (more rights than normal citizens)
    -This is not about human rights; this is plain homosexual agenda. Repealing 377A will give a platform for gays to push for legal gay marriage and others. Not willing to repeal 377A because there is no guarantee that gays will not pursue further, to the point where religions lose their own rights.

    On a personal note, I would repeal 377A based upon equality of human rights. But I, being more conservative, believe this could be a beginning to somewhere I don’t want to go or be in and am not confident enough to venture to find out if this is really their (homosexual) only objective. I don’t have a solution, or at least one accepted unanimously.

  37. shianux said

    WhatIsRight:

    The arguments of those who are against the repeal hinge on one single factor: that they fear it to be the beginning of a slippery slope towards something “worse”.

    They have no reason to worry for this simple reason: those of us who support repeal do so on the narrow grounds that this law is unjust. IF should there be an agenda to push for special rights FOR homosexuals, I will come out to argue against it. And I believe that those heterosexuals who currently support the repeal would do the same as well.

    If only those who fear the repeal can have the same clarity of thought and conscience to see what the real issues are.

  38. Shianux,

    “The reason is because the context of the relationship involved makes a huge difference. Within a family context, it is very easy for an older relative to have undue influence on the decisions of a younger person, such that it is highly possible that one party may not have meaningfully consented to a relationship, but could have been manipulated into one. Without meaningful consent, harm is clearly present. The question is how do we formulate a law that takes such contexts into account, or is an outright ban the only way to prevent older family members from taking advantage of younger family members?”

    I suppose there are other laws in place to protect the young ones such as laws against child abuse or paedophiles. As for meaningful consent, there are also laws already in place that also apply to heterosexual couples ie. minimum age to get married and minimum age to have sex.

    How about the specific case of an incesteous couple both above 21 years of age who decided not to have children?

    They would very much be in the same position as homosexuals are in today as their rights are infringed and the law would basically be unjust towards them going by your logic.

  39. Gerald said

    I Must Be Stupid – You said, “The reason why the will of the crowd…should be disregarded in this instance is that the crowd is acting stupidly.”

    “Stupidly” by whose standards? Yours? Gays’? Other social liberals’?

    Shianux – You said it is “morally unjust to use the force of law to coerce and punish people on the basis of consensual acts between adults in private, simply because some people disagree.”. You also said, “I support the repeal on moral grounds.”

    I Must Be Stupid said earlier that “It’s got nothing to do with morality at all.”

    Is this or is this not a moral call?

    You also said, “I’m NOT arguing for social conservatives to accept gays or like gays or love gays.”

    I would strongly argue that social conservatives should accept gays, like gays and even love gays. The “God hates f**s” slogan is to be utterly condemned. A clear distinction needs to be drawn between accepting gays and accepting their lifestyle. Conflating the two is just a convenient way to deride conservatives as hate-mongerers.

    For all those calling for “equal rights” for gays (Shianux excluded), does this mean gay couples should be allowed to marry, adopt children, buy HDB flats together, demand spousal medical benefits, and insist that children be taught in schools that relationships like theirs are perfectly acceptable in our society?

    This is the logical conclusion to the call for equal rights for gays. Repealing 377A would just be the start.

    Shianux – you have argued that you just want 377A repealed, but not all the rights I mentioned above. Well and good. I can take your word for it. But will other gay rights supporters stop at that? I see no reason why they should. Evidence in Western Europe and North America all indicates that they will fight their battle all the way. And if I were gay, I would too.

  40. Sophie said

    Gerald,

    You said – “And if I were gay, I would too”.

    Thank you for acknowledging that. Personally, I would fight for equal rights to the extent that you have mentioned (with minor caveats, such as civil unions instead of marriage etc). However, that is a very big bridge to cross in Singapore. I think it would be unlikely, even if 377a was repealed, for gay marriage to be that big a contentious issue within the next 50 years (or even longer).

    I guess the issue is whether such predictions (valid or otherwise) should figure into the debate. I am inclined to view and interpret the issue in a much narrower vein than the broad scale you have mentioned.

    “Accepting gays vs Accepting their lifestyle”

    What is of utmost concern to me is to stop the bullying, teasing and emotional scarring that teenagers suffer in schools because of their sexual orientation, confused or otherwise. I’m not saying that repealing 377a would immediately stop the discrimination, but at least it would remove one of the basis for the bullying and coercion in school. And maybe it will prevent incidents where pastors from ‘Focus on the Family’ come into schools and lecture students about how ‘gay men wait in void decks’ and that gay people can and should be converted to heterosexuality. Or have alumni come and tell students “I used to be a lesbian Buddhist. Now I’m a straight Christian. You can do it if you try.”

    Perhaps I’m getting too emotionally invested in this issue. But I think I have a right to be so.

    Ok. Rant over. I must say though that I’m impressed by the general level of civility and respect, even among differing camps. Some of the other places on the net are quite frightening to step into.

  41. Gerald,

    ““Stupidly” by whose standards? Yours? Gays’? Other social liberals’?”

    There is an objective way to quantify stupidity. A more accurate way to describe stupidity would be doing something that yields little benefit and yet has a high cost to it. Keeping S377A would certainly fits in that category. Game theorists can probably define such sub-optimal actions in an objective manner.It’s not my standard, gays’ or another others’ standard of stupidity.

    Can you name me the benefits of keeping S377A?

  42. JC said

    For the liberals who would like section 377A removed, please don’t use arguments like bullying in schools or homosexuals being kicked out of families.
    Section 377A does not cause such events.

  43. Sophie said

    JC,

    I am not saying that there is a direct cause-linkage to the events. I am saying that it can be used a basis to bully, discriminate and coerce students in schools. If 377a is repealed, my hope is that schools will think twice before resorting to such measures with their students. It is not the sole basis but as long as it’s there, people can use it to justify their discriminatory actions.

  44. shianux said

    Gerald:

    Whether social conservatives should like or accept or love gays or not is something they have to decide for themselves. If that’s what you argue for, I support you and I think you have every right to exercise your right to free speech, to try and convince them.

    The reason why I say that is not what I am arguing for, is because I am making the point that social conservatives should not be forced to accept something they don’t agree with. Trying to convince them through speech, as you propose to do, is completely different from passing laws to force them to accept gays.

    You have raised an example of such: passing laws or regulations such that schools will teach that homosexual relationships are normal and acceptable in society. This is something I opppose, because I don’t believe schools should be in the business of teaching morality. Morality and social norms are something which should remain solely in the domain of parents. If parents wish to teach their children to hate gays, or that homosexuality is wrong or sinful, so be it, it is the parent’s right to do so.

    Marriage is a different issue. The concept of marriage has a religious background, and as such I would not support legalising gay “marriage”. I do not believe in forcing religions into accepting something which is against their teachings. However I do advocate civil unions, which is full equal legal rights for homosexual unions. Keep in mind, what I am advocating is a strict separation of religion and law: just as religions should not be forced to accept homosexuality, non-religious people should not be forced to accept religious rules. It would only be fair and just if gays are allowed to form civil unions that have equal legal rights as heterosexual marriages. This of course includes other rights such as the right to adopt, buy HDB flats and medical benefits.

    Your comment implies that you find the above objectionable. The question is, why do you find it objectionable? Please provide reasons.

    Let me state again, my position is one of equal rights. I do not support “special rights” for any particular group. The simple fact is, the existence of s 377a IS providing a special right to social conservatives. Why should the thoughts and feelings of social conservatives and religious fundamentalists be privileged against those who are either not of the same religion, or atheists?

    Whether or not gays try to push for more rights is not really the issue. Keep in mind that they are the minority. Heterosexuals like me will not support any push for “special rights”, and without our support, they will not succeed. It is as simple as that.

  45. shianux said

    One more thing, to all.

    The one thing I cannot accept, which I find morally reprehensible and is a clear indication of hypocrisy, is the willingness of religious fundamentalists to resort to deception and fraud, to spread fear uncertainty and doubt amongst people, to stoke up paranoia and hysteria, in support of their arguments.

    If you wish to argue for or against, let us do so on the facts, on the merits of the arguments, on the strength of evidence and logic. The fact that the religious fundamentalists have to resort to trickery and deceit means that their position is morally bankrupt.

  46. MC said

    morals, rights, oppression, logic.

    i always wondered why law can’t be based on “love”

    if you had a son/daughter who was gay, would you like to see him/her in jail?

  47. Ignorance said

    Repealing Sec 377A, can a man who “rape” a man be charged and punished by the law then?

  48. shoestring said

    Shianux,

    You are obviously too emotional. Please read all my comments on this thread again. Have I argued against or for the repeal? I have only argued to the right of those who disagree with you to speak up.

    Yes, I know what I am arguing for. EQUAL RIGHTS TO SPEAK UP. Be it considered RIGHT or WRONG by you.

    Rest assured you are not the only one in the whole of Singapore who has thought deeply over it. I am sure those who have argued against the repeal have done so too. And they have valid concerns. I do agree with them that slippery slopes are a possiblity here, whether you think that is stupid or ridiculous, it is your opinion.

    In the words of Mr Wang – learn people learn. In this case, learn from precedents overseas.

    And please, don’t take things too personally. Read the word “gullible” in the context of situations where people are manipulated by those with vested interest. If you think you are not, then you are not.

  49. shoestring said

    WeiHan,

    Do I have to read any bill to argue for the right to speak up? And use what?

    Whether people like you doubt my credibility or not doesn’t bother me simply because you have not even read my comments carefully before jumping into gleeful conclusion that “Shoestring is not credible”. Yippee to that.

  50. shoestring said

    sophie,

    Is taboo the same as prohibition?

  51. shoestring said

    One last comment. I am more surprised Sophie, that speaking up for the right to speak up can land one in a sea of emotional piranhas eagerly waiting to slam the “conservative” label on anyone who disagree with them. Liberals (if you label others conservative, chances are, you are liberal) shouldn’t be doing that (they are supposed to be liberal). Lawyers (to be) too. Hope you aren’t one.

  52. Death Cab said

    “A clear distinction needs to be drawn between accepting gays and accepting their lifestyle”

    I really don’t see how there can be a distinction drawn between a homosexual and his/her “lifestyle”. Do you mean members of which sex one sleeps with? Or do you mean something like a promiscuous lifestyle? If it’s the former, then you are not accepting gays, because one’s sexuality is not separate from one. And if it is the latter, then it would be tarring a entire demographic with the same brush obviously. There is no unilateral gay “lifestyle”, just as there isn’t a singular heterosexual “lifestyle”.

  53. Sophie said

    Shoestring,

    When you post an article that seeks to demonize, exaggerate and seeks to say that “mom” and “dad” are now taboo (now it’s implying that somehow, heterosexual relationships are now subservient to homosexual relationships which is absurd in the face of legislation, what now “mom and mom” should be used instead? – then again, how in the world is a law that prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation make “mom and dad” taboo? You give us the premises and the conclusion and we’ll see whether there’s any logical follow-through of the argument).

    Any by the way, I do believe that everyone has the right to an opinion. But that should not prevent me from disagreeing with opinions when I feel that those opinions are wrong. If there is a law that seeks to diminish heterosexuality, to make it subservient to homosexuality (which is not the same thing as preventing discrimination against homosexuality), then I would be against that as well.

    As a social liberal, I question my beliefs every single day when I take in opinions from others. I’ve only just recently agonised over the issue of abortion. And the labeling part? Look up social liberalism for me. I have no qualms of labeling people. You seem to have no qualms either.

    And finally, I don’t think governments should have a say in private morality. So when you argue about morals and standards, I believe that issues such as abortion, homosexual acts, suicide should be legalized. I think abortion is abominable but that right of a woman should not be taken away from her.

  54. WeiHan said

    Shoestrings,

    You said: “As in what has happened in the US California where “mom” and “dad” are now considered taboo because they are offensive to gays? When the rest of society has to reorder their lives to the whims and fancies of the gays?”

    Immediately after that, you quoted the following article which is not even factually true.

    “‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ banished by California
    Schwarzenegger signs law banning anything perceived as negative to ‘gays’

    Don’t you think you have to at least verify the credibility of this article article before even you quote it to support your view. What view? Now, I have to ask to shed more light of what is your intention even though I think it is clear enough. Why do you asked the above questions followed by quoting of the above-mentioned article? You mean, this is for asking for the right to speak up? How so?

  55. WeiHan said

    Shoestring said:”Lastly, the fact that gay activists run gay baths and provide facilities for gay sex is extremely relevant. Why is it so urgent a matter to repeal the act? Is it really because gays are so oppressed and persecuted that it is a matter of life and death, that they can’t function as human beings? No. There are gays out there who aren’t as vocal who feel perfectly safe and accepted here, who have other priorities in life than pressing for gay rights incessantly. So why does this group of activists feel so compelled? They have special extraordinary needs? Or is it because the law is an obstacle that prevents them from operating their businesses the way they want?”

    So you are admitting that you like gays that aren’t vocal and quietly accepting all prejudices thrust onto them? That is just simply injustice. Period.

  56. shoestring said

    WeiHan,

    First, I am straight. So, I don’t like gays. I like the opposite sex.

    Secondly, the article is not a fake. The it is the reporting that gives it a slant. Nothing wrong with that. If you accept what bloggers write, you should accept the reporter’s perspective to.

    All articles have their own angles, all writers have their opinions that influence their writings. My purpose of quoting the article is as an illustration of what might be the concern of many – slippery slopes. Sooner or later, it will come to pass unless stopped.

    Sophie,

    So, is taboo the same as a prohibition? The rest is, I am afraid, your own interpretation based on your own bias against “conservatives” etc. You are entitled to it. I don’t like labels because they limits reason by stereotyping and defining people and their behaviour with clear cut lines, which is seldom the case.

    And we will all do well to differentiate between main arguments, examples and illustrations. Focus on the main argument. Being anal only leads to tunnel vision and uncalled for bickering.

  57. Ivan said

    Biologically speaking, homosexuality is not wrong. It happens in other species.

    The crux of the issue here is religion. Mainstream religions condemn (it’s a strong word but that’s what they do) homosexuality. Logic is not involved. So, if you’re even halfway religious, your stand is chosen for you. You can’t pick and choose which part of the Bible/ Quran/ etc you want to accept. That would be hypocritical.

  58. ET said

    Ivan, other species are known as other species for a reason. Is gay sex a “natural” way to procreate? Hamsters eat their children. Does that make it right for humans?

    I would like to ask what are the views regarding bestiality and incest between consenting adults. Seems like the views used to support homosexuality can be applied here too.

  59. WeiHan said

    For bestiality, since animals can’t give consent, it may amount to raping and harming of the animals. Therefore, it is possible to argue in this line of thought.

  60. WeiHan said

    Shoestrings,

    It is still not a valid argument to support injustice. Even if what is worried in the slippery slop argument stands, it is still always wrong to use injustice as a pre-emptive measure.

  61. ET said

    How about cases of dogs having sex with a woman? The dog is not being raped.

  62. shoestring said

    WeiHan,

    You the right to your opinion. I beg to differ.

    Btw, my nick is singular, not plural.

  63. shoestring said

    By the way, it’s good to find out who you are trying to convince and what they think:

    http://www.keep377a.com/Signatures.aspx

  64. WeiHan said

    Of course, we already know all these arguments in the petition which don’t make sense and will not prevail with time.

  65. Linus said

    Mr Michael Hor,

    You wrote that the govt does not enforce Sec 377A because of no harm or insufficient harm by offenders. On what basis do you say that? I believe there is no enforcement because of the Govt’s wish to appear less conservative and less authoritarian to the West, so that, among other things, S’pore still attracts expatriates.

  66. hugewhaleshark said

    Shianux,

    Thank you for your arguments.

    I have few gay friends, none of them close friends. And to tell the truth, I am not 100% comfortable with them even though I will be civil and friendly.

    But the views of the conservatives strike fear in me. Why? I just think – what if one of my children were gay? They will suffer so much discrimination. The law will tell them that they side the majority against them. The same law which is supposed to protect them. That I cannot accept.

  67. macabresg said

    the “what if my children were gay” mentality is absurd. Look at the tv programmes and movies these days. So much emphasis on sex. Are these parents going to protest saying that their children might grow up and become sex maniacs?

  68. […] Commentary on this Singaporean Political blog about the proposed amendments, written by Michael Hor. Excerpt: “Curiously, the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of 2007, proclaimed as the result of only the second comprehensive review of Singapore’s 136 year old criminal code, is likely to be remembered more for what it did not do than for what it did.” [Read the full article] […]

  69. Say it like it is said

    Repealing s377A does not equate to championing gay rights. The reason why this issue continues to create endless controversy is precisely because those who fight to retain it equate it as such and start trotting out “we are fighting for the souls of our children” arguments. Let’s step back and look at this issue objectively. If i recall correctly, Gerald and a few others mentioned the effect of “signposting”. But how effective is a signpost when the people who put it up make it common knowledge that they have no intention of enforcing it?

  70. […] Observe the level of homophobic content and the scarcity of rebuttals. Thus it is unsurprising that Prof Michael Hor decided to publish his article on TOC instead; this would keep his content free from adulteration. […]

  71. Funnyhor said

    I am very surprised that many of the pro377A people have taken to the moral high ground when there was hardly a whimper on the moral and ethical implications of allowing not one but two casinos to appear.

    So there’s nothing wrong with the evil of gambling (which by the way,I believe Jesus took personal action to upturn some of them which were operating close to the temple.) as opposed to the act of expressing your love for someone.

  72. […] -377A – To prevent what harm? by Michael Hor […]

  73. […] on to harm. Indeed I do not dispute that harm can be intangible or tangible. The question is what harm? If A and B engage in homosexual intercourse in the bed room, what harm can there be? Maybe they […]

  74. psylence said

    Hmmmmm why is everyone ignoring me? I thought this is supposed to be an open forum?

    Can someone please give me a positive reply pls.

    *Psylence, this blog site is not for you to solicit information or recommendations on incest. If that is what you are interested in, please go somewhere else. An open forum is not a free for all. You will be under moderation from now on and your posts may never appear here.

  75. macktheknife said

    My views are similar to KeeN. Thank you for voicing out.

    Man-woman is the only combination that I perceive as PREFECT match.

  76. […] of the best answers is probably the concept of harm. Michael Hor, a professor of law at NUS, wrote an excellent piece on the concept of harm in relation to s377A which was published at The Online […]

  77. Brian said

    Gerald,

    May I ask if you are straight ? Are you attacj=hed to a girl or married with children ?
    Thanks.

  78. […] Related read: To Prevent What Harm? […]

  79. Azmodeus said

    A very nice read after been away from the country for awhile.

    Very interesting perspective to look at, the government’s position to retain 377A and the questions that it raises from the aspect of law and its integrity, placed in the context of harm and culpability.

    I guess there are many ways to look at this issue, whether you are a social conservatist, liberal, libertarian, moralist, humanist, heterosexual or even a homosexual yourself, the issue will not just go away simply because it wasn’t repealed in the parliament, whenever or wherever there are homosexuals within our borders, this penal code would still apply to them, and penalising them whether from a social or legal context in Singapore (Even if our law enforcement agency would not uphold them).

    From the legal aspect, should a law which would not be upheld be retained in the first place? That is the very question that Prof Michael Hor is trying to ask in the first place. Consider this, given that 377A is not upheld, what gives the future government, considering a particularly vile one is being elected, would stop them from not upholding other laws that might possibly grant them private economic gains? Such as not upholding our Anti-Corruption Law?

    By not upholding a written criminal code brings our law into disrepute, bordering upon travesty under such circumstances without proper legal writings that would provide law enforcement agencies the ambit to act under the right situation. And from that perspective, does that mean that conservative citizens of Singapore upon reporting their homosexual neighbours of an act of gross indecency in private, and our police would not act simply because our government says so? Or would the homosexual couple not be charged under 377A? What are the consequences given such circumstances, could the police, public prosecutors, or even our attorney general have the authority to say that they would not bring charges against them?

    That I believe is what we should consider under the sphere of discussion as proposed by the author of this article.

    Best Regards,
    Azmodeus

  80. […] 11, 2008 at 12:21 pm · Filed under Uncategorized NUS Professor Michael Hor wrote an excellent piece on the issue in The Online Citizen. I was filled with great respect, not just for what he wrote, […]

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