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377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-Ann

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 23, 2007

Below is the full transcript of NMP Professor Thio Li-Ann’s speech in Parliament.

Two camps championing two distinct criminal law philosophies are polarised over whether to retain or repeal s377A which criminalizes public or private acts of gross indecency between two men, such as sodomy.

The ‘liberal’ camp wants 377A repealed. They offer an ‘argument from consent’ –government should not police the private sexual behaviour of consenting adults. They opine this violates their liberty or ‘privacy’. They ask, ‘Why criminalize something which does not “harm” anyone; if homosexuals are “born that way”, isn’t it unkind to ‘discriminate’ against their sexual practices?

These flawed arguments are marinated with distracting fallacies which obscure what is at stake – repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties.

The ‘communitarian’ camp argues from ‘community values’ – these social conservatives want 377A retained, to protect public health, morality, decency and order. A Keep 377A online petition attracted over 15,000 signatures after a few days.

Like many, I applaud the government’s wisdom in keeping 377A which conserves what upholds the national interest. ‘Conservative’ here is not a dirty word connoting backwardness; environmental conservation protects our habitat; the moral ecology must be conserved to protect what is precious and sustains a dynamic, free and good society.

The welfare of future generations depends on basing law on sound public philosophy. We should reject the ‘argument from consent’ as its philosophy is intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt.

Sir, the arguments to retain 377A are overwhelmingly compelling and should be fully articulated, to enable legislators to make informed decisions and not be bewitched by the empty rhetoric and emotional sloganeering employed by many radical liberals, which generate more heat than light.

The real question today is not “if” we should repeal 377A now, or wait until people are ready to move. This assumes too much, as though we need an adjustment period before the inevitable. The real question is not “if” but “should” we ever repeal 377A. It is not inevitable; it is not desirable to repeal it in any event. Not only is retaining s377A sound public policy, it is legally and constitutionally beyond reproach. Responsible legislators must grapple with the facts, figures and principles involved; they cannot discount the noxious social consequences repeal will bring.

Debate must be based on substance not sound-bites. Let me red-flag four red herrings.

First, to say a law is archaic is merely chronological snobbery.

Second, you cannot say a law is ‘regressive’ unless you first identify your ultimate goal. If we seek to copy the sexual libertine ethos of the wild wild West, then repealing s377A is progressive. But that is not our final destination. The onus is on those seeking repeal to prove this will not harm society.

Third, to say a law which criminalizes homosexual acts because many find it offensive is merely imposing a “prejudice” or “bias” assumes with justification that no reasonable contrary view exists. This evades debate. The liberal argument which says sodomy is a personal choice, private matter and ‘victimless crime’ merely asserts this. It rests precariously on an idiosyncratic notion of “harm” – but “harm” can be both physical and intangible; victims include both the immediate parties and third parties. What is done in ‘private’ can have public repercussions.

Fourth, some argue that legislators should be ‘open-minded’ and decriminalize sodomy. However, like an open mouth, an open mind must eventually close on something solid. They urge legislators to be ‘objective’ and to leave their personal subjective beliefs at home, especially if they hold religious views which consider homosexuality aberrant.

This demand for objectivity is intellectually disingenuous as there is no neutral ground, no ‘Switzerland of ambivalence’ when we consider the moral issues related to 377A which require moral judgment of what is right and wrong – not to take a stand, is to take a stand! As law has a moral basis, we need to consider which morality to legislate. Neither the majority or minority is always right – but there are fundamental values beyond fashion and politics which serve the common good. Religious views are part of our common morality. We separate ‘religion’ from ‘politics,’ but not ‘religion’ from ‘public policy’. That would be undemocratic. All citizens may propose views in public debate, whether influenced by religious or secular convictions or both; only the government can impose a view by law.

Incidentally, one does not have to be religious to consider homosexuality contrary to biological design and immoral; secular philosopher Immanuel Kant considered homosexuality “immoral acts against our animal nature” which did not preserve the species and dishonoured humanity.

The issues surrounding s377A are about morality, not modernity or being cosmopolitan. What will foreigners think if we retain 377A? Depends on which foreigner you ask. Many would applaud us! Such issues divide other societies as well! The debate is not closed. A group of Canadians1 were grieved enough to issue an online apology to the world “for harm done through Canada‘s legalization of homosexual marriage”, urging us not to repeat their mistakes.

Singapore is an independent state and we can decide the 377A issue ourselves; we have no need of foreign or neo-colonial moral imperialism in matters of fundamental morality.

There are no constitutional objections to s377A

Sir, there are no constitutional objections to retaining 377A while de-criminalising heterosexual oral and anal sex. Three legal points are worth making.

First, there is no constitutional right to homosexual sodomy. It is not a facet of personal liberty under article 9. Nor is there a human right to homosexual sodomy though some like to slip this in under the umbrella of ‘privacy.’ Human rights are universal, like prohibitions against genocide. Demands for ‘homosexual rights’ are the political claims of a narrow interest group masquerading as legal entitlements. Homosexual activists often try to infiltrate and hijack human rights initiatives to serve their political agenda, discrediting an otherwise noble cause to protect the weak and poor. You cannot make a human wrong a human right.

Second, while homosexuals are a numerical minority, there is no such thing as ‘sexual minorities’ at law. Activists have coined this term to draw a beguiling but fallacious association between homosexuals and legally recognized minorities like racial groups. Race is a fixed trait. It remains controversial whether homosexual orientation is genetic or environmental, perhaps both. There are no ex-Blacks but there are ex-gays. The analogy between race and sexual orientation or preferred sexual preferences, is false. Activists repeat the slogan ‘sexual minority’ ad nausem as a deceptive political ploy to get sympathy from people who don’t think through issues carefully. Repetition does not cure fallacy.

Science has become so politicized that the issue of whether gays are ‘born that way’ depends on which scientist you ask. You cannot base sound public philosophy on poor politicized pseudo ‘science’.

Homosexuality is a gender identity disorder; there are numerous examples of former homosexuals successfully dealing with this. Just this year, two high profile US activists left the homosexual lifestyle, the publisher of Venus, a lesbian magazine, and an editor of Young Gay America. Their stories are available on the net. An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.

Singapore law only recognizes racial and religious minorities. Special protection is reserved for the poor and disadvantaged; the average homosexual person in Singapore is both well educated, with higher income – that’s why upscale condo developers target them! Homosexuals do not deserve special rights, just the rights we all have.

‘Sexual minorities’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are vague terms – covering anything from homosexuality, bestiality, incest, paedophilia – do all these minority sexual practices merit protection?

Third, 377A does not breach the article 12 guarantee of equality. While all human persons are of equal worth, not all human behaviour is equally worthy. We separate the actor from the act. In criminalizing acts, we consider the wrongfulness of the act, the harm caused and how it affects the good of society.

Parliament has the power to classify; this involves a choice, like distinguishing murder and manslaughter. Classifications which satisfy the constitutional test of validity are called “differentiation”; only invalid classifications are called “discrimination.” Criminalising same-sex sodomy but not opposite-sex sodomy is valid “differentiation.” S377A does not target any specific actor; it would cover a heterosexual male experimenting with male sodomy.

Valid classifications must have a clear basis and be rationally related to a legitimate purpose. In serving public health and public morality, 377A passes constitutional muster with flying colours.

Public Health Argument

Sir, public health and safety is a legitimate purpose served by the 377A ban on homosexual anal and oral sex. Both these practices are efficient methods of transmitting sexual diseases and AIDs / HIV which are public health problems. These are not victimless crimes as the whole community has to foot the costs of these diseases.

Anal-penetrative sex is inherently damaging to the body and a misuse of organs, like shoving a straw up your nose to drink. The anus is designed to expel waste; when something is forcibly inserted into it, the muscles contract and cause tearing; fecal waste, viruses carried by sperm and blood thus congregate, with adverse health implications like ‘gay bowel syndrome’, anal cancer. ‘Acts of gross indecency’ under 377A also covers unhygienic practices like “rimming” where the mouth comes into contact with the anus. Consent to harmful acts is no defence – otherwise, our strong anti-drug laws must fall as it cannot co-exist with letting in recreational drugs as a matter of personal lifestyle choice.

Opposite-sex sodomy is harmful, but medical studies indicate that same-sex sodomy carries a higher price tag for society because of higher promiscuity and frequency levels. The New York Times reported that even informed homosexuals return to unsafe practices like bare-backing and bug-chasing after a health crisis wanes. A British Study showed that the legalization of homosexual sodomy correlated with an upsurge of STDs among gays. Common sense tells us that with more acceptance, any form of consensual sexual behaviour increases. Sodomy laws have some deterrent effect.

It is rational for the state to target the most acute aspect of a problem. The legal issue is not whether the state should be concerned with heterosexual sodomy but whether it is reasonable to believe same-sex sodomy poses a distinct problem. Medical literature indicates that gays have disproportionately higher STDs rates, which puts them in a different category from the general public, warranting different treatment.

The onus rests on opponents of 377A to negate every conceivable basis for treating homosexual and heterosexual sodomy differently. They cannot, because classifications do not need to be perfect and can be under-inclusive; valid classifications only need to “go some way” to serve the legislative goal, which 377A clearly does.

Public Morality

Sir, the power to legislate morality is not limited to preventing demonstrable harm. The Penal Code now criminalizes the wounding of both religious and racial feelings (s498).

S377A serves public morality; the argument from community reminds us we share a way of life which gives legal expression to the moral repugnancy of homosexuality. Heterosexual sodomy unlike homosexual sodomy does not undermine the understanding of heterosexuality as the preferred social norm. To those who say that 377A penalizes only gays not lesbians, note there have been calls to criminalize lesbianism too.

Public sexual morality must buttress strong families based on faithful union between man and wife, the best model for raising children. The state should not promote promiscuity nor condone sexual exploitation. New section 376D criminalizes the organisation of child sex tours. Bravo.

The ‘argument from consent’ says the state should keep out of the bedroom, to safeguard ‘sexual autonomy’. While we cherish racial and religious diversity, sexual diversity is a different kettle of fish. Diversity is not license for perversity. This radical liberal argument is pernicious, a leftist philosophy based on radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. It is unworkable because every viable moral theory has limits to consent.

Radical individualism would demand decriminalising consensual adult incest; but the Penal Code is not based on consent as s376F reflects. The state has always retained an interest in regulating conduct in the bedroom – the issue is which type?

Radical egalitarianism applied to sexual morality says the state should not morally distinguish between types of consensual sex. It exudes a false neutrality but actually sneaks in a substantive philosophy: Hedonism which breeds narcissism. This extols satisfying desire without restraint as a matter of autonomy. But some desires are undesirable, harming self and society.

The argument from consent ultimately celebrates sexual libertine values, the fruit of which is sexual licentiousness, a culture of lust, which takes, rather than love, which gives. This social decline will provoke more headlines like a 2004 Her World article called: “Gay guy confesses: I slept with 100 men…one of them could be your hubby.” What about the broken-hearts involved?

If you argue from consent, how can you condemn any form of sexual self-expression, no matter how selfish or hurtful? But, no man is an island. Ideas, embodied in laws, have consequences. Don’t send the wrong message.

The issues raised in the Petition fall apart on rigorous analysis.

Rule of Law vs. Rule of Good Law

Sir, government policy is not to pro-actively enforce 377A. Some argue that just keeping this law on the books will erode the rule of law. I disagree. It is not turning a blind eye on the existence of homosexuals here; it is refusing to celebrate homosexuality while allowing gays to live quiet lives. This is prudent, as it is difficult to enforce ‘bedroom’ offences; such intrusive powers should be judiciously used anyway.

We have other hard-to-police laws which embody communal standards of public decency, such as laws against nudity visible to the public eye, even if you are at home. Law is a Moral teacher and makes a moral statement; 6 years ago, Singapore symbolically blocked access to 100 porn sites, as a ‘statement of our values.’ We value our values, while remaining realistic.

A non pro-active policy does not mean 377A will never be enforced – who knows what another season may require? Policies can change.

Sir, citizens are not just concerned with the rule of law but with the rule of good law. Laws which violate core moral values will alienate many and bring the system into disrepute. Indeed, many citizens see keeping 377A as evidence the government is defending the right moral values, which lends legitimacy.

Criminalising Moral Wrongs – which?

Sir, it is true that not all moral wrongs, such as adultery, are criminalized; yet they retain their stigma. But adulterors know they done wrong and do not lobby for toleration of adultery as a sexual orientation right.

Homosexual Agenda and Social Consequences

Conversely, homosexual activists lobby hard for a radical sexual revolution, waging a liberal fundamentalist crusade against traditional morality. They adopt a ‘step by step’ approach to hide how radical the agenda is. Liberals never ask: what happens next if you repeal 377A. Responsible legislators must see the Big Picture.

Pro-gay academics identify 5 main steps in this agenda in their study of foreign jurisdictions.

Step 1: repeal laws criminalizing homosexual sex. They consider this “pivotal” to advancing the homosexual agenda. Why? Without this, they cannot advance in the public sphere or push for government funding and support for special programmes, such as the New York Gay High School. Governments don’t promote criminal activities. You need to change the criminal law before changing civil law.

But decriminalizing sodomy is only the tip of the iceberg which is 1/8 of an ice mass – we must see what lies beneath the water to avoid a Titanic fate.

Step 2 is to equalize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex; in some countries, this is as low as 13. Do we want to expose Sec 1 boys to adult sexual predators? To be sexually creative?

Step 3 is to prohibit discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation’. But would this not include all sexual behaviour? “Sex before 8 or else it’s too late” is the motto of the North American Man Boy Love Association. Should we judge pedophilia or be relativist and promote “anything goes” sexual experimentation?

Sir, to protect homosexuals, some countries have criminalized not sodomy but opposition to sodomy, making it a ‘hate crime’ to criticize homosexuality. This violates freedom of speech and religion; will sacred texts that declare homosexuality morally deviant, like the Bible and Koran, be criminalized? Social unrest beckons. Such assaults on constitutional liberties cannot be tolerated.

Steps 4 and 5 relate to legalizing same-sex marriage or partnerships, child adoption rights. This subverts both marriage and family, which are institutions homosexuals seek to redefine beyond recognition. Will MOE then commission a book copying the US “Heather has 2 mummies” called “Ah Beng has 2 daddies?” What if parents disagree with their kids studying homosexual propaganda?

Is legalizing same-sex marriage progressive? It is if you want a genderless planet where “husband” and “wife” are considered discriminatory terms, to be replaced by “spouse”.

We want to be able to say, Majullah Singapura, not Mundur Singapura!

Repealing 377A will further batter the institution of ‘marriage’ which we must bolster! This is because the arguments raised to challenge a distinction between heterosexual and homosexual sodomy, equally apply to challenge legal distinctions between lawful heterosexual marriage between man and wife and unlawful homosexual unions.

To reinforce the moral foundations of a pro-family policy that permits only heterosexuals to marry, it is permissible to differentiate between heterosexual and homosexual sodomy. To say that 377A discriminates is effectively to say that marriage laws discriminate and are unconstitutional.

Legalising sodomy would set a bad example; by signaling approval, it may change both attitude and conduct; coupled with sexual hedonism, it makes a mockery of strong family values. 377A helps to protect against this harm.

Academic supporters of the homosexual agenda like my colleague Michael Hor argued online that even if 377A was not enforced, discriminatory policies against homosexuals could be built on the logic of its existence. But taking his logic, repealing 377A would mean the government would be less able to resist claims for homosexual marriage or for promoting homosexuality as a desirable lifestyle in schools, as this would be ‘discriminatory’.These foreign developments warn us that the advance of the homosexual agenda here is not remote.

To slouch back to Sodom is to return to the Bad Old Days in ancient Greece or even China where sex was utterly wild and unrestrained, and homosexuality was considered superior to man-women relations. Women’s groups should note that where homosexuality was celebrated, women were relegated to low social roles; when homosexuality was idealized in Greece, women were objects not partners, who ran homes and bore babies. Back then, whether a man had sex with another man, woman or child was a matter of indifference, like one’s eating preferences. The only relevant category was penetrator and penetrated; sex was not seen as interactive intimacy, but a doing of something to someone. How degrading.

It was only when marriage was invented by the Jewish Torah that the genie of sexual impulses was forced into the marital bottle, so that sex no longer dominated society – this discipline provided the social base for the development of western civilization.

Homosexuals as fellow citizens have the right to expect decent treatment from the rest of us; but they have no right to insist we surrender our fundamental moral beliefs so they can feel comfortable about their sexual behaviour. We should not be subject to the tyranny of the undemocratic minority who want to violate our consciences, trample on our cherished moral virtues and threaten our collective welfare by imposing homosexual dogma on right-thinking people. Keep 377A.

Democracy and Debate

Sir, we Singaporeans will continue to debate and disagree over controversial moral issues as they arise. We should make substantive arguments and not think with our feelings; the media should present both sides fairly, without bias.

However, I have noted a disturbing phenomenon over the 377A debate– the argument by insult. Instead of reasoning, some have resorted to name-calling to intimidate and silence their opponents. People with principled moral objections to the homosexual agenda are tarred and feathered ‘homophobes’, ‘bigots’, to shut them up. This strategy is unoriginally imported from foreign gay activists, which stifles creative thinking and intellectual enquiry.

When you shout, full of sound and fury, and call your opponents nasty names, this terminates public debate. No one wants to be called a bigot. But think about it – if I oppose incest, am I an incestophobe? If I oppose alcoholism, am I a winophobe? If having an opinion means you are bigoted, then we are all bigots! What is your phobia?

Where certain liberals accuse their opponents of being intolerant, they demonstrate their own intolerance towards their opponents! They are hoist on their own petard, guilty of everything they accuse their detractors of!

One of my colleagues, a young professor, suffered these vicious tactics when the Straits Times published an article this May where Yvonne Lee argued against repealing 377A. This well-researched, cogent article so incensed homosexual activists that they flooded her with a torrent of abusive, lewd emails and wrote to her head of department calling for her to be removed from her job. This appeared to be a co-ordinated campaign.

We academics are used to disagreement, but why write to her employer and threaten her livelihood? Why vilify someone and seek to assassinate their personal and professional reputation? I hope the House joins me in deploring these malicious attacks which also assault academic freedom. She is owed an apology. I would be ashamed to belong to any academic institution that cravenly bowed down to such disgraceful bully-boy tactics.

This August, I had my own experience with this sort of hysterical attack. I received an email from someone I never met, full of vile and obscene invective which I shall not repeat, accusing me of hatemongering. It cursed me and expressed the wish to defile my grave on the day 377A was repealed.

I believe in free debate but this oversteps the line. I was distressed, disgusted, upset enough to file a police report. Does a normal person go up to a stranger to express such irrational hatred?

Smear tactics indicate the poor quality of debate and also, of character. Let us have rational debate, not diatribe, free from abusive rhetoric and tantrum-throwing. As Singapore approaches her Jubilee, My hope for the post-65 generation is that we will not become an uncivil civil society borne from an immature culture of vulgarity which celebrates the base, not the noble.

I speak, at the risk of being burned at the stake by militant activists. But if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. I was raised to believe in speaking out for what is right, good and true, no matter the cost. It is important in life not only to have a Brain, but a Spine.

One of my favourite speeches by PM Lee, which I force my students to read, is his Harvard Club speech 2 years ago where he urged citizens not to be “passive bystanders” in their own fate but to debate issues with reason and conviction. I took this to heart. To forge good policy, we need to do our homework and engage in honest debate on the issues. Let us also speak with civility, which cannot be legislated, but draws deep from our character and upbringing. Before government can govern man, man must be able to govern himself.

Sir, let speaking in the public square with reason, passion, honesty, civility, even grace, be the mark of a Citizen of Singapore.

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108 Responses to “377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-Ann”

  1. On the other side of the coin, we have those supporting the retention of Section 377A making normative statements clouded with religious influence that has clearly no space in the secular sphere of legislation.

    The problem with some of these academics is that they would like to think that they are making a neutral stand, but one cannot deny one’s own upbringing and religious beliefs.

    Nothing wrong with being religious, but there’s a lot of room for error when your religious convictions are enshrined through legal masquerade.

    Let’s not go down that slippery slope.

    I don’t find sex between homosexual men something appealing, but I would not criminalise it. It is their right to do so.

  2. shoestring said

    So true, what she said about democracy and debate.

    She has covered a broad spectrum of perspectives on the issue instead of using a tunnel vision approach like harping on rights all the time which is detached from other aspects of life.

    Critics should stop calling names, hurling insults and bickering behind her back on protected territory. Otherwise, it will simply reflect on the hidden malice that is so well camourflaged in the name of intellectual power.

  3. WeiHan said

    It is a very long winded article but what is the gist? In short, she is just defending her values (a judeo-christian one) that at present are partially enshrined in the law from being redefined if 377a is repealed. The “harm” that she talks about is just that.

  4. family man said

    what Indranee said make no sense too – in a situation where you have a split decision – keep 377A, repeal 377A – you keep to the status quo – she said. I wonder if she is up for promotion or something to minister of state – she forgot about the casino debate and the minister salary debate – we definitely DID NOT stick to status quo altho there was a great affective divide.

  5. Sophie said

    “Homosexuality is a gender identity disorder; there are numerous examples of former homosexuals successfully dealing with this. Just this year, two high profile US activists left the homosexual lifestyle, the publisher of Venus, a lesbian magazine, and an editor of Young Gay America. Their stories are available on the net. An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.”

    That’s odd. I wonder why she didn’t state the cases of ex-gays who have been caught soliciting sex or those who have suffered as a result of these therapies.

    Some statements are half-truths or distortions(too many to list down) and some are debatable. While I object to the half-truths, I don’t approve of personal attacks against her.

  6. WeiHan said

    Now wonder they will receive personal attacks. They just bring out their own crack-pot argument against their own academia conscience. Academiahs are not suppose to be opportunists who hope to convince people using dishonest half-truth they know in their conscience that it is false. that is why they have invited personal attacks because how else to communicate with them?

  7. Linus said

    Excellent, all rounded speech with various perspectives. She has countered very well Siew’s argument about the unconstitutionality of Sec 377A.

  8. sam said

    Homosexuals will CONTINUE to have sex, cause they are humans too. Its a given and with this given fact of life, what will the government or the people who oppose the repeal of 377a do, given that it makes all homosexuals, who have sex, a criminal? Are homosexuals to remain celibate in order to exist lawfully in our society? Should they continue to contribute to society as a criminal or as a celibate gay person?

  9. If they are not valued, they will leave (for those who can). The gist here is we need to weigh this process against the larger strategic picture here.

    Singapore wants to be relevant to the world. She has to walk that path sooner or later.

  10. llucii said

    This woman so did not do any research at all! Her observations of Ancient Greece is totally false and contrary to what is known to all academics and students of the subject. I’m appalled that she even had the audacity to make such a baseless speech full of false representations that has totally shamed and made a mockery of the Parliament and Singaporean politicians.

    [F.Y.I. Ancient Greece certainly did not condone homosexuality in the way that she suggests and was in no way ‘superior’ to hetereosexual sex as she claims. Also, women had fewer political rights for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the practice of homosexuality. Paedophilia was also criminal in the day as was non-consensual sex. Seriously man, even a freshman in archaeology would be able to tell her what a whole lot of baseless bull-cock she just spouted!]

    Furiously yours.

  11. WeiHan said

    That is why that is academic dishonesty. Opportunist who seek to gain follower only through deceit. Why do you think they are so nice to call for fair debate? It is because they have lose the debate long ago.

  12. […] that not unexpectedly, 377a is going to stay. I am appalled (and that really is too mild a word) at NMP Thio Li-Ann’s speech. Molly has already picked out the more “interesting” […]

  13. Alan Wong said

    Said simply, she’s just unprofessional & dishonest to use unproven assertions to achieve her hidden agenda because of her own religions beliefs.

    She should have declared that she is speaking on behalf of the Christian fundamentalists.

  14. family man said

    I too disagree to vicious personal attacks, But if her academic research is flawed with regards to ancient greece etc, then she should be challenged openly by the academia, and if proven to be speaking out of line, her dean should be made aware of it. Yes, the NUS dean should be aware of the fame / flame she is attracting to the institution.

  15. The Dean has stood up to resist calls for the cancellation of the Burma memorial service. I believe he’s not blind to what’s going on at the moment.

  16. WeiHan said

    She is also totally misguided by her deeply ingrained religious connection.

    Why do I say that? She demonised gays to the most devilish you can imagine. To her, gays are all out to vandalise the very fabric of society. That is why she said, gays should keep their private sexual behaviour in their bedroom and should not seek to gain approval from the society so that they feel better. If this is true, then repealing 377a will be sufficient. Then all effort for other rights to form family units cannot be explained.

    What is the actual picture? Gays are not demons that Thio has been misguided to understand. Gays are normal people that also seek love and life-long companion. Who in this world wish to live in loneliness?They yearn that their relationship will be recognised so that they don’t have to live two lifes, one secret and one puiblic. They seek recognistion so that they bring their companion along to participate in social events and share joy together just as heterosexual couples have been doing. They want to share with their families members, parents and friends just like heterosexual couples. It is that simple. They are not out to vandalise what has been established based on hatred, revenge and ill-will. It is that simple. If Thio does not get this point, she will not stop using trickeries and flase arguments to stop her anti-gay campaign.

    I just want to say that all she has done is totally based on misguided beliefs.

  17. twasher said

    She fails to mention that the ancient Greece that tolerated (not embraced) homosexuality also happened to be the ancient Greece to which we owe much of what we call ‘civilization’ today. There is a very strong case to be made that modern science and many modern socio-political institutions owe their origins to the philosophers in Greece who were buggering young boys. You have to be fair: if you want to blame the oppression of women in ancient Greece on the concurrent prevalence of homosexual sex, then why should you not credit the prevalance of homosexual sex for the most important intellectual bloom in human history, especially since said homosexual sex played such a big role in the personal and social lives of the intellectuals involved?

  18. Hi all,

    A point by point rebuttal of her speech can be found here.

    http://singaporepeasants.blogspot.com/2007/10/nmp-thio-li-ann-and-her-intellectually.html

    Her arguments are totally flawed.

  19. macabresg said

    I wanna puke. half truths and more half truths!

  20. WeiHan said

    Her arguments are not flawed because she has no arguments.

  21. Tolerant said

    Finally, the homosexual agenda exported from the West is exposed for what it is. It is out to make a deviant lifestyle appear normal. I’m glad that Prof Thio is allowed to make her speech although we can see that the homosexual activists are not tolerant of her views.

  22. Sooty said

    The ‘liberal’ camp wants 377A repealed. They offer an ‘argument from consent’ –government should not police the private sexual behaviour of consenting adults. They opine this violates their liberty or ‘privacy’. They ask, ‘Why criminalize something which does not “harm” anyone; if homosexuals are “born that way”, isn’t it unkind to ‘discriminate’ against their sexual practices?

    These flawed arguments are marinated with distracting fallacies which obscure what is at stake – repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties.

    She is shifting the goalpost. “Repealing 377A is the first step of a radical, political agenda which will subvert social morality, the common good and undermine our liberties”, if proven to be a true conclusion, is merely one of the factors that will help us decide whether to the repeal should occur. It is not the conclusion.

    Also, she has constructed a straw man for arguments for repealment. The ‘liberal’ camp does not offer merely an ‘argument from consent’. Pro-repeal arguments have addressed ‘social morality’, ‘common good’ and ‘liberties’. By not addressing them and claiming that they are being subverted is paying the pro-repeal camp lip service.

    Furthermore, she is arguing ad hominem. She attacks the liberal camp by labelling what their arguing for ‘a radical, political agenda’. A severely connotative label.

    Like many, I applaud the government’s wisdom in keeping 377A which conserves what upholds the national interest. ‘Conservative’ here is not a dirty word connoting backwardness; environmental conservation protects our habitat; the moral ecology must be conserved to protect what is precious and sustains a dynamic, free and good society.

    She is clearly being subjective when she says that 377a “conserves what upholds the national interest”. The fact that many voices want 377a repealed puts into doubt exactly what our ‘national interest’ is. Armchair speculation.

    “environmental conservation protects our habitat” is a false analogy.
    “Conservatism is a relativistic term used to describe political philosophies that favor traditional values, where ‘tradition’ refers to religious, cultural, or nationally defined beliefs and customs.” (Quoted from wikipedia. Question its authority if you must.) Environmental conservation has nothing to do with favouring ‘religious, cultural or nationally defined beliefs and customs’ of the natural world.

    The welfare of future generations depends on basing law on sound public philosophy. We should reject the ‘argument from consent’ as its philosophy is intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt.

    Sir, the arguments to retain 377A are overwhelmingly compelling and should be fully articulated, to enable legislators to make informed decisions and not be bewitched by the empty rhetoric and emotional sloganeering employed by many radical liberals, which generate more heat than light.

    She is once against arguing ad hominem and paying lip service by calling liberals ‘radical’ and their arguments ‘intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt’, ’empty rhetoric’ and ’emotional sloganeering’.

    The real question today is not “if” we should repeal 377A now, or wait until people are ready to move. This assumes too much, as though we need an adjustment period before the inevitable. The real question is not “if” but “should” we ever repeal 377A. It is not inevitable; it is not desirable to repeal it in any event. Not only is retaining s377A sound public policy, it is legally and constitutionally beyond reproach. Responsible legislators must grapple with the facts, figures and principles involved; they cannot discount the noxious social consequences repeal will bring.

    Debate must be based on substance not sound-bites. Let me red-flag four red herrings.

    She is making an armchair speculation that “debate must be based on substance (and) not sound-bites” – What is substance? Can debate be carried out merely rationally without hearing the voices of people? Also, she is again arguing ad hominem. She is saying that pro-repeal arguments have no substance and are merely sound-bites. She contradicts herself on multiple levels when she says that the debate must not be based on ‘sound-bites’, notably at the end when she refers to her colleagues and her experiences (are her own experience not sound-bites?) of being insulted (are these insults not sound-bites?).

    In the second sentence of this short line, she asserts her change of goalposts earlier by declaring the four pro-repeal arguments she will address to be red herring – that they have no bearing on the ‘actual’ conclusion. Interestingly, she goes on not to prove that they are red herrings (probably because she still acknowledges the actual conclusion – repeal 377a or not) but instead counterargues.

    First, to say a law is archaic is merely chronological snobbery.

    A straw man argument on her part. To say a law is archaic connotes that the law is backwarded. She has created a caricature of the argument from backwardedness by saying that it ‘is merely chronological snobbery’. Such an argument obviously do not argue from mere chronologicality. She has made it sound as if that argument is just this – “X is a law of yesterday. Therefore it is backward.”

    Second, you cannot say a law is ‘regressive’ unless you first identify your ultimate goal. If we seek to copy the sexual libertine ethos of the wild wild West, then repealing s377A is progressive. But that is not our final destination. The onus is on those seeking repeal to prove this will not harm society.

    Once again, she has created a straw man on behalf of her opponents. I doubt her opponents ever argue that repealing 377a is seeking ‘to copy the sexual libertine ethos of the wild wild West’. She then creates a false burden of proof – she is not taking a neutral stand and is herself arguing that repealment causes harm. There is just as much burden of proof on her to prove that this is the case.

    Third, to say a law which criminalizes homosexual acts because many find it offensive is merely imposing a “prejudice” or “bias” assumes with justification that no reasonable contrary view exists. This evades debate. The liberal argument which says sodomy is a personal choice, private matter and ‘victimless crime’ merely asserts this. It rests precariously on an idiosyncratic notion of “harm” – but “harm” can be both physical and intangible; victims include both the immediate parties and third parties. What is done in ‘private’ can have public repercussions.

    The first half of this paragraph is a red herring. The government has repeatedly touted majority conservatism (synonymous to “many find it offensive”) as one of the main reasons for keeping 377a. The question is whether this reason is acceptable, not about whether there are contrary views. Her conclusion – “this evades debate” – is thus false.

    She attempts to ‘define’ “harm” in her own terms in the second half of the paragraph, calling her opponents’ idea of harm “idiosyncratic”, herself committing several fallacies at once here. Calling her opponents’ notion of ‘harm’ idiosyncratic is rhetoric. Note that her opponents’ argument on “harm” is that which is based on law – perfectly relevant since the discussion is whether or not to abolish 377a which is a law. A recent article by Professor Michael Hor, who teaches criminal law at the NUS Law Faculty, explain that criminal activity must entail harm to others that is recognizable and tangible.

    That “harm” can be both physical and intangible is trivial and irrelevant to her opponents’ arguments. She goes on to assert that there are victims which “include both the immediate parties and third parties” despite her opponents’ argument that there is no harm to the immediate party, paying them lip service. When she mentions ‘public repercussions’ again, she is likely referring to the harm to society in terms of “social morality, the common good and… …liberties”, which is as discussed above, subjective. She appears to be wildly speculative here.

    Fourth, some argue that legislators should be ‘open-minded’ and decriminalize sodomy. However, like an open mouth, an open mind must eventually close on something solid. They urge legislators to be ‘objective’ and to leave their personal subjective beliefs at home, especially if they hold religious views which consider homosexuality aberrant.

    She creates a false analogy here. An open mind does not eventually close on itself. It is false to assume that it is impossible to keep one’s mind open as long as one lives.

    This demand for objectivity is intellectually disingenuous as there is no neutral ground, no ‘Switzerland of ambivalence’ when we consider the moral issues related to 377A which require moral judgment of what is right and wrong – not to take a stand, is to take a stand! As law has a moral basis, we need to consider which morality to legislate.

    Her argument here is incomprehensible and fraught with rhetoric. Here’s a simpler take that probably simplifies too much:
    The demand for objectivity only appears to be intellectually frank (it is unclear what she is trying to say, but it is probably that being ‘objective’ is impossible), since people must take a stand when they are faced with moral issues. Law deals with moral issues, therefore law must take a stand.

    First, she asserts that people must take a stand when faced with moral issues, then asserts that law should do the same because people must do so as well. The first assertion is false – someone who catches his father stealing may choose to turn away from the moral issue of having to choose between upholding justice and being filial. The second assertion is dubious, just because people believe that adultery is wrong doesn’t mean law should criminalize it (a line of thought that comes up frequently in this debate).

    It may be a leap to say so, but it appears that she herself favours subjectivity over objectivity, regardless whether it is personal morality or law. Her fourth point is more opinion than argument.

    Neither the majority or minority is always right – but there are fundamental values beyond fashion and politics which serve the common good. Religious views are part of our common morality. We separate ‘religion’ from ‘politics,’ but not ‘religion’ from ‘public policy’. That would be undemocratic. All citizens may propose views in public debate, whether influenced by religious or secular convictions or both; only the government can impose a view by law.

    She makes many assertions here without elaborating further. For example – what fundamental values? What common morality? What does separating religion from politics and public policy entail respectively? How would doing so for the latter be undemocratic? She also states that “only the government can impose a view by law”, where she once again demonstrates that she believes that law should be subjective.

    Incidentally, one does not have to be religious to consider homosexuality contrary to biological design and immoral; secular philosopher Immanuel Kant considered homosexuality “immoral acts against our animal nature” which did not preserve the species and dishonoured humanity.

    She is appealing to false authority. Immanuel Kant was not a specialist in sexuality. His statement is based on his view of what ‘nature’ is. Had he a better understanding of why homosexuality occurs, he might have said otherwise.

    The issues surrounding s377A are about morality, not modernity or being cosmopolitan. What will foreigners think if we retain 377A? Depends on which foreigner you ask. Many would applaud us! Such issues divide other societies as well! The debate is not closed. A group of Canadians were grieved enough to issue an online apology to the world “for harm done through Canada’s legalization of homosexual marriage”, urging us not to repeat their mistakes.

    Singapore is an independent state and we can decide the 377A issue ourselves; we have no need of foreign or neo-colonial moral imperialism in matters of fundamental morality.

    No arguments are made here.

  23. […] Members of the House (thumping) their seats in approval,” Prof Thio spoke for 30 minutes{video}{text} – the maximum time […]

  24. shianux said

    I have come to realise that there is no point in debating at all. I have pondered the responses of those who are against repeal, and I realise that no matter how I try my best to put my arguments in a simple to understand, logical and sequential format, they still are either unable to or refuse to see logic.

    I had all along thought that it would always be possible to convince people by reason and logic and it seems that I had put too much faith in humanity. Perhaps this is why some people turn to God after all, because some people find it all to easy to be cruel and oppressive of others, without turning a critical eye to their thoughts and feelings. And use whatever justification they can find to support their actions.

  25. WeiHan said

    Shianux,

    Don’t be disappointed. Continue to reason. The fact that more and more people are accepting homosexuality is because true reasoning has worked. Keep up the good work!

  26. shoestring said

    By chronological snobbery, I think she meant that “what is chronologically later need not necessarily be better and to insist that it is always so is chronological snobbery.” I agree.

    At least, she doesn’t curse and swear or call people stupid.

  27. […] Thio, I am sure you know this section very well… in fact, you dedicated an entire speech to the impassioned defence of it, not even touching on things like marital rape immunity. I am surprised… I thought an […]

  28. […] Thio, I am sure you know this section very well… in fact, you dedicated an entire speech to the impassioned defence of it, not even touching on things like marital rape immunity. I am surprised… I thought an […]

  29. Sooty said

    The welfare of future generations depends on basing law on sound public philosophy. We should reject the ‘argument from consent’ as its philosophy is intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt.

    She certainly didn’t call people stupid 😉

  30. […] 2007 – The Online Citizen: Section 377A is inconsistent : PAP MP Hri Kumar – The Online Citizen: 377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-Ann – ST: Indranee Rajah’s remarks during the debate on amendments to the Penal Code. [PDF] – ST: […]

  31. forest said

    Reading through her speech and the comments made, I come away with the impression that Thio has made a very cogent speech, but most of the responses reflect a lack of ground to counter what she has said. Kind of “disagree with what she said, but … not clear as to what is exactly wrong with what she said” ….. no solid counter reasoning given.

  32. shoestring said

    Sooty, there is a difference between calling people “stupid” and arguments “intellectually deficient.”

    Your observations are spot on, Forest. But what you have observed is supposedly intellectually more superior and logical.

  33. shoestring said

    Another case of undesirable consequences here:

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammyboymod/messages?msg=121090.1

    I won’t be surprise if I am accused of scaremongering.

  34. Sooty said

    Sooty, there is a difference between calling people “stupid” and arguments “intellectually deficient.”

    How true. That difference is truly unfortunate.

  35. shianux said

    Shoestring, Sooty, Forest:

    In all that I have written, I have never called anyone names. And yet all of you only selectively pick those comments that do.

    I have also presented comprehensive arguments for repeal. And no one has addressed any of my arguments. And again, you selectively state that nobody has presented counter arguments against Thio’s speech.

    And lastly, Shoestring, you have previously stated something which is false, and yet you now claim that people will accuse you of scaremongering. If you state something which is false, how can you expect people to believe what you say?

  36. Rimmer said

    sensationalism and bigotry are currency to some politicians… particularly those who have nothing to offer.

  37. Its time to leave

    I started this post intending to demolish that rubbish of a speech made by Thio Li Ann (one wonders how it is possible to become a professor with that quality of thought) but I think there are plenty of others who have done so far more effectively.
    I s…

  38. loupgarou said

    I have only one thing to say to her..

    C U Next Tuesday.

  39. anom said

    I too am disappointed like Shianux. I am straight and certainly no gay activist. Still, the repeal faction made very logical and sound arguments. The anti-repeal faction I have to confess I don’t see anything logical in what they say other than a lot of fearmongering, and how society will collapse or go the way of the decadent West, while conveniently avoiding to see how other Asian societies disprove this social “nightmare”. Maybe I don’t get it because I am a free thinker? LOL

    PM Lee’s reasoning is just lame. He endorses ambiguity! And to me this is a signal of his and his government’s weakness and lack of courage.

  40. Anders said

    It is interesting how she says we must keep away from “empty rhetoric and emotional sloganeering”, and just a few paragraphs later she talks about “the wild wild West”.

    Pathetic!

  41. LH said

    Science has become so politicized that the issue of whether gays are ‘born that way’ depends on which scientist you ask. You cannot base sound public philosophy on poor politicized pseudo ‘science’.

    Did she wonder about the underlying reason why science has become politicized regarding this issue?

    So if scientific conclusions do not align with religious views, are we to dismiss them as “poor politicized pseudo science”?

  42. la nausee said

    “To slouch back to Sodom is to return to the Bad Old Days in ancient Greece or even China where sex was utterly wild and unrestrained, and homosexuality was considered superior to man-women relations.”

    Can anyone say… chronological snobbery?

    The nub of her argument was the claim that s. 377A is a valid “differentiation”, and thus, not unconstitutional. She invokes ‘public health’ and ‘public morality’, to justify the legislative purpose behind s. 377A.

    I am at a loss, trying to understand how s. 377A can ever reduce STD rates, if you at the same time acknowledge that it will not be proactively enforced. If the state is indeed concerned about disproportionately high rates of HIV / Aids in the homosexual population, then the only logical response is to clampdown on gay sex with a vengeance. Invade people’s bedrooms, set up entrapment operations, and so on. Send in ‘gay inspectors’, like we have NEA inspectors to combat the spread of dengue. This is what the ‘public health’ argument entails, and the only reason why Prof Thio does not pursue the argument to its conclusion, is that it would reveal a pretty warped view of public policy.

    Her argument from ‘public morality, deconstructed, consists of just one positive claim: “Public sexual morality must buttress strong families based on faithful union between man and wife, the best model for raising children.” ‘Man and wife’, indeed! Perhaps we’re not really past the days when, to quote Ms. Indranee Rajah, “women were regarded as chattels”. And of course, sex is uttered in the same breath as raising children… how wholesome. What about sex as an expression of intimacy between 2 persons? Yuck! that’s ‘licentious’, ‘hedonistic’, ‘perverse’, ‘narcissistic’, ‘libertine’, ‘pernicious’…

    Alas, repetition does not cure fallacy.

  43. Sooty said

    Shianux, I didn’t say that you called people names 😉

    I’m just saying that someone else did.

  44. shianux said

    Sooty:

    I know, and I did not say that you did. What I said was that you focused on those comments from other people that did.

    There are irrational and rude people from BOTH sides of the debate. Ignore them. That is what I do. Focus on the ones who are not rude, and who are making substantive arguments.

  45. Easthawk said

    Well….Why am I GAY?…Hmm…Then I will ask, Why does a River Flow?

    Generally, the popular belief is that homosexuality is caused by a domineering mother. My mother and father both gave me a great deal of love and attention: by no means was my mother emotionally
    domineering, And at 165 cm, my mother is certainly not physically domineering either.

    Another theory is that a sexual assault by an older man leads boys to become homosexual. I was never sexually assualted during my childhood. Except when I was 10, my neighbour, she did held my hands, and squeezed.I don’t see how this could have made me switch sexual preferences.

    So I did not have domineering mother, my parents love me, and I was never sexually assaulted by an older person. Furthermore, my mother was not doing drugs at the time of conception, I was never
    exposed to high level radiation. Why then am I gay?

    I think we are on the wrong track to spend too much time on this question. A more important question is: Why do so many people fear anyone who is different from them and thus label them sick or evil? But people never ask that. Instead, they ask: ” Then why did you choose homosexuality? ” I didn’t choose homosexuality: Homosexuality chose me. People do not wake up in the morning and say,”Gee, I think I will be a homosexual!” The only choice I had was whether to nurture or stifle my homosexual feelings. I merely chose not to be forced into “acceptable” social conduct.

    Often people tell me homosexuality is wrong because it does not occur in nature. ” It is not normal!” In fact, homosexuality has been observed in many animals in the wild. ( Nemo can be Nina too!)But even so, human beings do many things that are unique to our species. Does that make these traits unnatural? Only human play tennis; does this make those of us who have this desire to play tennis “unnatural”?

    People also ask,”What is it that you hate about yourself that made you become a homosexual?” What a ridiculous qestion! I never had a low self-esteem that would make me gay. At one point, though, the reverse happened. Being homosexual led me to have a low self-esteem when I first became aware of society’s attitudes about homosexuality.

    In short, it is as impossible to explain why homosexuality exists as to explain why heterosexuality exists. Natural events rarely have one identifiable cause. How do you answer a question like “Why does a river flow?” There are so many possible answers. A poet, a scientist, a nurse would each give a different reason. And maybe none would be correct. We must accept the simple fact that streams DO flow. Homosexuality does exist.

    So at the end, I am still gay, and I am still me. 🙂

  46. Easthawk said

    So I thank all who do not think I am sick and unnatural, and recognise my yearly contribution to the tax system, my many donations to charity organisations, my hours spent on volunteer works, my contribution to my company by bringing in sales, me taking care of my mother whenever she is sick, me giving up my seats to that pregnant woman last week when the rest of the straight men and women pretended to sleep on the MRT….

    Of course I would also like to apologize to those who felt that my existence as a gay man makes them uncomfortable, that I should be classified in the same group as theives, robbers, rapists, conmen, muderers since we ALL commit a crime in this country.

    But then again…for my “crime” for liking men, I may be thrown into the jail with..MORE MEN (?)…hmm….Oh! Ok. I get it now…..:P

  47. […] from homosexuality, bestiality, incest, paedophilia.” Maybe she should have practised her lines in front of the mirror at home before embarassing herself in parliament “with distracting […]

  48. […] posts that were written in response to NMP Thio’s speech, and in fact, I read her speech at The Online Citizen. I found it amusing that members of parliament actually applauded this speech, which I feel is a […]

  49. Eve said

    Extract on Research by Dennis Prager, one of America’s best radio hosts in his review ~

    “One of the most remarkable aspects of contemporary societies’ acceptance of homosexuality is the lack of outcry from and on behalf of women. I say “outcry” because there is certainly much quiet crying by women over this issue, as heard in the frequent lament from single women that so many single men are gay. But the major reason for anyone concerned with women’s equality to be concerned with homosexuality is the direct correlation between the prevalence of male homosexuality and the relegation of women to a low social role.

    In societies where men sought out men for love and sex, women were relegated to society’s periphery. Thus, for example, ancient Greece, which elevated homosexuality to an ideal, was characterized by “a misogynistic attitude,” in Norman Sussman’s words. Homosexuality in ancient Greece, he writes, “was closely linked to an idealized concept of the man as the focus of intellectual and physical activities…The woman was seen as serving but two roles. As a wife, she ran the home. As a courtesan, she satisfied male sexual desires.” Classicist Eva Keuls describes Athens at its height of philosophical and artistic greatness as “a society dominated by men who sequester their wives and daughters, denigrate the female role in reproduction, erect monuments to the male genitalia, have sex with the sons of their peers…”

    Professor Thio is correct in this. There are lots of write-ups on this issue, by the way, if you want to read up on the web.

  50. WeiHan said

    How come a radio host is taken to have greater credibility in her research over a real expert in this area?

    Is like telling me, a geologist has an argument to prove Einstein’s relativity theory is wrong after going some amateur research during his weekend holiday.

  51. shoestring said

    I wish people wouldn’t be so sensitive. Did I point any fingers at you Shianux? Please, it’s almost a pastime for some bloggers to call anybody who disagrees with them stupid.

    My main point, again, is about what Ms Thio mentioned under “Democracy and Debate”. Bully tactics such as intimidation and personal attacks to silence opposing voices is not debate. Nor will they solve any problems or come to any agreement.

    Again, calling somebody stupid is different from saying an argument is intellectually deficient. How can anyone who cannot even differentiate between a human being and an argument be taken seriously? He is too sensitive and worked up to think sensibly. How often do angry people regret what they say?

    Chill man.

  52. f man said

    I know we will quickly evolve and accept 337A soon – when the IOC says that Youth olympic is not coming to Singapore because the country’s laws are regressive towards the world homosexual atheletes and officials (reminds me of Greg Louganis), when other MICE organisers say they prefer Dubai / Taiwan / Hongkong etc because they have a better contitutional law which respects the right of gays, lesbians, gamblers. Then overnight PAP will embrace 377A. That is how our rules are constituted, based on the caSINo experience. F**k the majority – it was not about them in the first place…..remember the salary debate? only 80 people agreed to it and voted it in – all PAP employees.

  53. Sane Man said

    Eve:

    This argument is mistaken: clearly the Greeks practised homosexuality BECAUSE they were chauvinistic, not that they were chauvinistic because they were homosexual.

    This seems clear to me. I hope it will be to you after, like, one second’s reflection.

  54. DespererryTan said

    I can see where all this is leading too. But I believe there are many write ups abt this topic and what cannot be denied is there are many viewpoints, some clear others which say very much the same thing.

    Maybe it is best to check up on what the brotherhood press is saying. After all they manage to get all the hits and it doesnt even matter whether they are linked or not linked. All I know is in my office every morning, everyone seems to regularly tuned into what they have to say.

    I am not saying, I like their lead writer very much, but the others seem to do a decent job.

    I dont know where they are, but finding them in either the intelligent singaporean (comments section) or the Singapore Daily is a good bet.

    Have a fab day!

  55. Tolerant said

    Being homosexual is as natural as the flow of a river? I find that hard to believe. I wouldn’t find a river natural if it turns pink one day. If we can no longer determine what is normal and what is not normal, then our society is in real trouble. The fact that something abnormal exists doesn’t make it normal. It may be hard to determine why homosexuality exists but we must not simply accept it as normal. Just as the pink river may kill everyone in the community one day if its cause is not identified, accepting homosexuality as normal will also affect our whole society adversely.

  56. WeiHan said

    homsexuality may be rarer but it is a normal traits in something called spectrum of sexuality. Conservatives failed to understand this. There is the ENTIRE spectrum of sexuality (natural and what narure gives) in which homsexuality occupies one small section of it

  57. Eve said

    There are a lot more people like Dennis Prager who took the efforts to research in the area of homosexuality and he has published several books since and was well-known in America to be an expert in this area. Also, he is not the only one who mentioned this if you would spend time to surf the worldwide web. It is quite an established truth.

    I agree it may be true that the Greeks practised homosexuality because they were chauvinistic. But could it be that one of the reasons why today’s homosexuals are homesexuals because they are chauvinistic? That’s why most homosexuals are males (I didn’t say ‘all’). And maybe is that why section 377A is criminalising men having sex with another and leaving women out?

  58. This speech is why I wish people were more rational when making arguments. I’ll examine the whole speech, point by point, to illustrate this. Thio Li-Ann essentially argues that the pro-repeal camp has posited fallacious arguments, that the pro-retention camp has meritous arguments, and that the law should be retained. She proceeds along four thrusts: there is no reason to repeal a law just because you say that it is archaic; that the law serves public health; that the law serves public morality; that the debate has been tainted; and that the objectivity argument is disingenous. But before I do that, I shall first tackle her preliminary arguments on objectivity — as she described it.

    First, she argues that one cannot separate law from religion. She argues that religion is part of our common morality, and that it would be undemocratic to separate ‘religion’ from ‘public policy’. This is not true. Religion may be part of a person’s morality, but it does not extend to the public sphere. That is because there is no common religion in society. Similarly, there is no ‘common morality’, because people do not have the same moral codes. There are people who believe in Christian ethics, there are people who believe in moral absolutism, and there are others who are relativist. Saying that there is a common morality is therefore false. The only ‘common’ morality is when all these moral grounds intersect, which she must prove has happened in the case of homosexuality in order to make this claim. But she does not. Because of plurality of religion, we have to separate religion from politics ro prevent believers of one religion from imposing their views on others. The by-product of politics is, in fact, public policy, because the former is the act of determining the latter. It is logically inconsistent to expect to find religion melded into policy, when it has been removed in the process of creation, if it has, in fact, been removed. Further, it is undemocratic to include religion in public policy, even if it were separate from politics, because doing so would violate the rights of others to conscience, thought, and religion. Therefore, this argument is false.

    Second, she claims that one does not have to be religious in order to consider homosexuality is immoral, and backs it up by quoting Kant. This is not a point. Kant’s claim to secularism was his proposition that there is no way of determining whether or not God exists, but qualifies it by saying that it is perfectly reasonable to believe in God. Kant’s comment on homosexuality must be examined in context. To him, something is moral if and only if it were performed for duty’s sake. To him, sexual intercourse has the end goal of reproduction; any sex act not geared towards reproduction is therefore immoral, as it does not fulfil its duty. So, heterosexual sex, just for the fun of it, is also immoral by Kantian ethics. In fact, by Kantian ethics, sex is moral only when it is done out of a sense of duty — which is best measured by the couple having sex and not enjoying it. She has not made that distinction, and has therefore perpetuated an injustice by not explaining it. Even if she could quote Kant, I can still disprove it. Dr. Alfred Kinsley, researcher into human sexual behaviour, said that ‘The only unnatural sex act is that whcih you cannot perform.’ Ergo, any kind of sexual activity is permitted. There is no point bandying about quotes from philosophers and scientists, because invariably he would be contradicted by someone else’s opinion. In the end, she is just perverting Kant for her own ends — which violates Kantian ethics, as it states that man must be treated as an end, not just a means to an end.

    Thirdly, she argues that the issue about morality, and that we can decide it ourselves, without listening to other nations. The whole issue is about tolerance, non-discrimination and equality. Morality is not an issue, because there are so many interpretations of morality that it has become subjective, and it is undemocratic to impose your moral values on someone else. Tolerance, non-discrimination and equality have objective standards. They apply to everybody; that is why they hold a higher status than ‘morality’ in public policy. Where foreigners are concerned, they have their personal opinions. Some would applaud us, some would be revolted. If she insists on being so nationalist, why should she bring up the Canadians’ apology, since they mean nothing to Singapore? She is being hypocritical here, by using this apology to buttress her decidedly moralistic stance.

    Now, her arguments proper. Her first argument is that no legal protection for homosexuals and there is no need for it. First, she says that there is no reason for that under the law; second, she says that homosexuality is not a sexual minority; third, she says that there is no reason to have special rights for gays.

    On her first point, she insists that homosexuality is not a human right. She argues that homosexual activists have infiltrated human rights organisations and have made homosexuality is human right, when it is a ‘human wrong’. Why is it a human wrong? For that matter, where is her proof that that has indeed happened? Human rights organisation insist that there is no reason to discriminate against anybody, just because he or she happens to be different in some way, be it race, religion, political ideology, or sexual practices. Homosexuality falls into this category, because too few people are hoosexuals to constitute the majority, automatically making them a minority. It is therefore in the cause of human rights to decrminalise homosexuality, if she were so concerned about it.

    ON her second point, she states that the law does not recognise sexual minorities. Obviously, the law does not recognise sexual minorities: that is why Section 377A has persisted for so long. The question is not whether or not the law says so, but whether or not there is reason to recognise it. I’ve already stated above that homosexuality is a minority because it is different, and because it is a minority, it is undemocratic to suppress it: democracy is about the protection of minority rights, no matter what the minority may be. She may claim that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder, but that is not true. It is a disorder only in certain cases, like when the person becomes homosexual because of previous traumatic experience which subverts their conscience. In most cases, this does not apply, as the gay community is by and large composed of people who freely recognise that they are homosexual. She refuses to see this qualification.

    Third, she says that homosexuals do not deserve special rights. For all the rhetoric she has said, she does not accept that it is about equal rights. Section 377A essentially criminalises the act of male homosexuals or bisexuals having sex. There is no law that prevents people from having heterosexual sex. Therefore, the male homosexual and bisexual community do not enjoy equal rights. She even argues that S377A makes heterosexual men experimenting with male sodomy criminals. That is not true. A true heterosexual is one who exclusively has heterosexual sex of his or her own free will. Male sodomy suggests that that man is having sex with other man freely. In such a context, that man is not heterosexual; he is either bisexual or homosexual. As argued earlier, he is still oppressed under the law.

    Now, let me deal with the public health argument. She argues that section 377A serves public health, by discouraging same-sex sex acts, as it is the most acute aspect of the problem. For all the rhetoric she has espoused, she fails to understand that the AIDS/HIV problem is spread in Singapore, and the world, by heterosexual sex. According to the Ministry of Health, in 2006, 2/3 of all sexually-transmitted HIV cases were through heterosexual sex. Just because AIDS was first diagnosed in gay men, and because the most attention is on the gay community, does not detract from this fact: that is the fallacy of the spotlight. By her argument, the State should outlaw heterosexual sex in the interests of public health. Evidently, the government has not done so, so that argument is inconsistent with government policy.

    Next, her public morality argument. She says that the law serves public morality by preventing sexual perversion and sexual promiscuity, and by upholding values.

    On the first count: Homosexuality is not a sexual perversion, just because it is same-sex. To prove that something is a perversion, one must prove that it is deviant and harmful. The second criteria has not been met, no matter how hard Thio tries: homosexual sex has contributed less to the HIV/ADS situation in Singapore than heterosexual sex. Her argument on promiscuity is flawed, because there is a massive leap in her logic. She has not connected the decriminalisation of a single sex act to promiscuity, or to lust. She has failed to see that homosexuality is just a term to describe how a particular person would exercise his or her sexuality. A person may be homosexual, but he may be chaste, faithful or promiscuous. In that same manner, a man may love a woman dearly, but he does not need to have sex with her to demonstrate that love; or a man may have sex with many women without being tied to one. She implicitly assumes that all gays are promiscuous, which is clearly false. Her morality argument is tied to her believe that there is just one version of morality. That, again, is false. So-called ‘public morality’ is simply the intersection of the moral values of every single person in the country — assuming that there is, in fact, such an incidence. The ‘public morality’ she speaks of her is nonexistent: people believe that homosexuality is either wrong or not wrong in today’s society; whereas in a society with a ‘public morality’ that covers homosexuality, everybody would see homosexuality in the same light. As the latter case is not true, there is no such thing called ‘public morality’ that can be applied in Thio’s argument.

    On the second argument: the law upholds values. But, as stated earlier, ‘values’ is not objective. That the government’s values happen to intersect with the values of many citizens is a happy coincidence, but nothing more than that. The subjectivity of morality renders moral arguments useless. Further, since the government would not enforce the law, it does not need to exist. The government has stated that it would not enforce the law. Therefore, the law would not be used. So there is no reason to keep something that would never be used. Therefore, it should go, as it is useless. Everything else is a red herring, especially the bandwagon fallacy she invokes, because it is irrelevant to this issue. By keeping the law, one is opening the way for another government to use the law against the homosexual community: this means that keeping the law leaves the door open to discrimination on the simple basis that one does not have sex the same way as everybody else.

    I have dealt with the rest of her argument on the homosexual agenda in my article; there is no need to repeat myself. Likewise, her false information and substantiation has already been addressed by other readers, and I see no need to echo their sentiments in this regard.

    Now, the last argument: about the poor quality of debate. I only need to say this: what is the point? I agree that she has been insulted. I agree that plenty of people have received the brunt of personal attacks. But this does not detract from the fact that there is still a debate. Furthermore, even if I call you intolerant, it does not mean that I am intolerant. It merely means that I think that you are intolerant. It does not mean that I am not willing to listen to you, rather that you are not willing to listen to others. Thio, in fact, is guilty of intolerance by dismissing the pro-repeal camp’s arguments at a stroke, instead of addressing them. Even if all these are somehow right, she is still wrong here. There are three logical fallacies here. The first is the fallacy of poisoning the well, by first linking the insults to the pro-repeal camp, then by saying that their arguments are not worth listening to. The second is the ad hominem, as she is calling the pro-repeal camp ‘libertines’ and ‘intolerant’ to discredit their case. The third is the red herring fallacy, because the poor quality of debate she perceives has no bearing on the issue at hand.

    In conclusion, her speech is riddled with the flaws she accused the pro-repeal side of having. All she is saying, is that the law currently agrees with her moral codes, and should therefore be upheld; that it would impose those moral codes on others is a moot point, because she believes that her morality is the best for the country. Everything else, as shown above, is irrelevant. She insists that debate should have reason, passion, honesty, civility and grace. But her argument lacks reason, commits intellectual dishonesty, and is decidedly uncivil. All Thio has is passion, and that passion is not enough.

  59. […] Benjamin Cheah wrote an interesting post today on Comment on 377A serves public morality : NMP Thio Li-Ann by …Here’s a quick excerptJust because AIDS was first diagnosed in gay men, and because the most attention is on the gay community, does not detract from this fact: that is the fallacy of the spotlight. By her argument, the State should outlaw heterosexual sex … […]

  60. Jiekai said

    Eve:

    If homosexual men were chauvinistic in general, most of them would call laws which actually give women a lower social status.Yet time and again we see that the same people who call for the lower status of women in countries like Saudi Arabia tend not to be homosexuals, but homophobes. Everyone who has spoken out in favour of keeping marital rape as an exception to our laws is clearly a straight man.And far from shunning women, and being unpopular with them, gay men seem to be favourite shopping buddies with straight women all the time.

    Common sense should inform you that homosexuality as a cause of male chauvinism is utterly inexplicable, especially in the context of the modern world. But your comments reveal that you are more willing to follow the authority of some middle-american conservative talk show host than your real life experience- if you’ve met any gay people, that is.

  61. Sane Man said

    Re: the Kant point.

    I didn’t know that Kant thought homosexuality is immoral, but I suppose that is consistent with some of his ethical theory in general.

    But two points:

    a) In Kant’s time, homosexuality wasn’t properly understood: i.e. there was no recognition that it was dispositional, rather than merely discretely intentional.

    b) Kant also, notoriously, considered masturbation to be immoral. Incidentally, so does the Catholic church. Why does Thio not therefore argue for the criminalisation of masturbation? INDEED, Kant clearly thouht that heterosexual sodomy, oral sex AND sex with contraception were all immoral.

  62. Andrew Loh said

    The real effect on the ground is that people like Otto Fong are regarded as “criminals”. It doesn’t matter that by ALL accounts, including from the PM himself, Mr Fong is an excellent teacher.

    I fail to understand, indeed I am flabbergasted, that the govt could retain the law without the slightest sense of hypocrisy and empathy and understanding.

    Now, since Mr Fong is legally and lawfully regarded as a criminal, is he allowed to teach our kids?

    This is just one example of how the law brings things into disrepute. Have you guys noticed something? That the MOS for Law and Home Affairs did not address the legal questions posed to him during the debate. I guess it’s easier to sidestep the whole legal mess.

    So, can we ask the MOE: Why are they allowing a “criminal” to teach our kids?

    It appalls me that someone who is as sincere, open, honest, and an excellent teacher is, by law, regarded a “criminal”. Can anyone with a clear conscience say he is? Yet here we are.

    I also fail to see how those who use the moral argument against the repeal of 377A could possibly support the hypocrisy in the law. The only way they could do that is to subscribe to the view that hypocrisy stands above conscience.

  63. I’m disgusted. Simply disgusted.

    Never have I been so shameful to say to others that this bunch of people are Singaporeans.

    Suffice to say, we are Singaporeans. In my heart, those that claim to lead the country, because they lack the will to right a wrong, have forfeited their right to call themselves our fellow citizens.

  64. LifesLikeThat said

    If Singapore ever goes to war, will our government expect our gay Singaporean ‘criminals’ to take up arms and defend the country and the government which has pronounced them criminals in the first place?

    Another legal question which Mr Ho would avoid answering.

  65. etrepoursoi said

    Benjamin:

    1. That one cannot exclude religion from law.
    I agree with Prof Thio’s point, which she has made several times before, that strict secularism is indefensible. You do not arbitrarily exclude secular ideologies such as utilitarianism, libertarianism, free-market economics etc., from public debate and public policy. Similarly, you cannot arbitrarily exclude religious ideologies, a priori.

    The acid test for exclusion is not some “belief in a higher being” (some religions are not even founded on such a belief). The acid test is whether the ideology is one which other citizens can reasonably accept. Religion is excluded only to the extent that some of its claims are ones which large parts of the society cannot reasonably accept.

    2. Public Health
    Prof Thio’s point that the gay population has disproportionately high STD rates (the statistics are ambivalent) might still justify targeting them. The more pertinent issue is whether ‘targeting’ the gay population necessarily implies criminalizing gay sex.

    Obviously not. A whole range of policy responses is available. A more sensible and effective way to ‘target’ the gay community is through public awareness campaigns, counselling, and so on.

    3. Public Morality
    If ‘public morality’ is the intersection of the moral values of every single person in the country, then it is public morality all the same.

    The crucial question is, what kind of positive moral claim is Prof Thio advancing, what kind of public morality is she advancing? In gist, it is that sex is bad, unless it occurs in the context of marriage, procreation and child-raising. Fine, but if indeed you aim to combat sexual promiscuity, then target those who are sexually promiscuous, and not those who are homosexual. Sexual promiscuity is independent of sexual orientation, surely. Moreover, if heterosexuals form the bulk of the population, then surely it is heterosexual sexual promiscuity that poses a greater threat to the institutions of marriage and family. Section 377A targets the completely wrong group of individuals, even accepting Prof Thio’s moral claims.

  66. Compassion said

    I’m a straight liberal here. Thought it best to state my ground.

    I don’t have all the answers, but I think the whole question of whether to repeal 377a is not important. If at all, it is but a symbolic step – what is more important is that the “homosexual condition” is now recognised and not a taboo discourse. I neither mean that in the pejorative nor as some medical / psychiatric condition. Instead, I mean the social challenges that our gay kin endure growing up. How ironical is it to be referred to as “gay”?

    Perhaps many in the anti-repeal camp may now benefit from better understanding of that. It is especially troubling when views demonstrating a flippant disregard of the “homosexual condition” are given such high profile airing and becoming the basis of legislation.

    Even more insidious is the insinuation that being gay is an indulgence of the bored upper-middle classes.

  67. WeiHan said

    I reserve my doubt that such conservative sexual attitude don’t do any harm to the society.

    As we know, family unit nowaday tend to be small. Often, the only child is a daughter. As the population age, there will be many old people that are handicapped and require care including hygienic care. I wonder how many man with extremely conservative attitude towards sex can handle the idea that their daughter have to do the body hygiene maintenance for them? This includes looking at them in full nidity and holding for genital organs, folding back the foreskinto clean and to maintain hygiene? Will these men or their daughters rather chose to die to having to live in this inevitable situation?

  68. Etrepoursoi,

    I believe that there’s been a misunderstanding somewhere, so I’ll have to clarify it. I’ll proceed along the way you have described matters: separation of religion and law, public health, and public morality.

    I argued that the exclusion of religion from law is necessary, to prevent believers of one religion from imposing their views on society. You said that the test for exclusion is whether the people can reasonably accept a proposition. The key word here is ‘imposed’, that is, forced upon other people. If the people do accept it, then whether or not it has religious origins is irrelevant, because it is a non-issue to the people. But in this case, because the law is imposing an essentially conservative, Judeo-Christian (British law in the 19th century was based on the Bible), view on the people, and that a significant portion of the population reject its view, there is a case for separation of religion and law in this context.

    And, for the record, religion is defined as “The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power or powers regarded as creating or governing the universe.” (Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary) Therefore, religions are founded in a belief in a higher being or beings of some kind.

    Now, for the public health argument. What I meant to say was that her argument is logically inconsistent with public health strategy. I will further add that what she is doing is advocating overly-harsh measures in the name of public health. There may indeed be a disproportionate number of gays with STDs, but the main source of STD transmission is still heterosexual sex, according to the figures I have cited above. One cannot cure an outbreak by attacking an anomaly with more gusto than the source, because the latter is still around to continue harming others, no matter how diminished it may be. If she were to advocate Section 377A for this purpose, then it is illogical, because she is leaving the source relatively untouched. Other policies, as you have mentioned, are surely more effective than outlawing it altogether.

    Next, the public morality argument. The dispute here is not be about the existence of whether or not there is a public morality. My definition of public morality was to argue that there was a possibility of a ‘public morality’ to exist in spite of all the different interpretations of morality. But in that intersection of moral codes, the people would naturally feel roughly the same way on a particular subject. The onus is on her to prove that this incidence is true in the case of homosexuality before she can bring up that argument before Parliament and expect the public to agree. In this case, it is not true, because the public clearly do not have a common attitude towards homosexuality. Therefore, her argument based on public morality cannot possibly stand.

    I do not dispute the rest of your argument. In fact, I support it, for the same reasons you have cited.

  69. […] more distressing than the final result of the debate was the retrogressive speech by the high-flying legal scholar Thio Li-Ann. Her convoluted, caricatured rendering of political […]

  70. familyman said

    A Nobel Laureate has resigned cos he questioned the blacks intelligence. Let us see what the academia in NUS do to their peers who call the gay group a ‘human wrong’, who ‘pushed straws up their noses.’ and who does not see any need to apologise cos she’s got a brain and a spine as well.

  71. retro said

    Familyman,

    I don’t think your comparison of blacks and gays is appropriate. One is a race, and the other is choice of lifestyle.

  72. WeiHan said

    Nevermind…just ignore what the body of evidences that science has to say for your own purpose…..

  73. Sane Man said

    People seem to have great difficulty understanding the meaning of academic freedom. Academic freedom is not the same as freedom of speech: it is the freedom to espouse whatever views and opinions and findings you find convincing — but WITHIN the boundaries of academic rigour. That is why we have admissions standards: if we were really so free in academia, Harvard should open wide its doors to anyone and everyone who wishes to enrol. It doesn’t: and I have yet to read the howls of protest about how that violates academic freedom.

    The objection of many to Thio Li Ann’s and Yvonne C L Lee’s writings is not for the views expressed therein. Well, we do object to them — and indeed we are justified in subjecting them to public vilification. But we would not be right in pointing to them as a reason for Thio and Lee to be removed from their teaching posts. HOWEVER, their writings also betray a shocking lack of clear thought and argument, a willingness to suppress relevant evidence, and an obvious unfamiliarity with the wider literature on the subject. This is either intellectual dishonesty or academic sloppiness, both of which are reasons to remove an academic from his/her post.

    I hope that is clear.

  74. familyman said

    To be fair, I applaud her for speaking her mind and do not wish her to lose her job for it. But I really wish that if she is aware that she has insulted some mother, sister, sister in christ, brother in christ, father, who has a family member who is gay, she will quickly come ‘out’ and apologise for it. If not, I will continue to love her as a person, but just abhor her actions and her words, as a God fearing Christian myself. Ms Thio, may God bless you.

  75. […] by Thio Li-Ann on how 377a serves public morality. The video can be found here and the transcript here at […]

  76. Repeal377A said

    Oh do shut up Ms Thio…you talk too much and discriminate a lot!

  77. belletrist said

    Disgustingly flawed, ungrounded and biased speech. Her points are weak and far from enough to make an entirely well-rounded argument to properly convince me.

    In any case, we should not be arguing about whether homosexuality is “normal” or whether it goes against the forces of nature. The fact remains that homosexuality existed, exists and will continue to exist as long as the world still spins. So instead of debating over the normality of this lifestyle choice or identity that homosexuals have chosen, why don’t we find a way to deal with it FAIRLY and JUSTLY so that we as a society can live peacefully knowing that we are accepted for who we are? S377A has been in place for the past 40 years in Singapore and yet I don’t see STD rates decreasing or stagnating. Homosexuals are among us and they will continue to live their lives the way that they want to, because they have every right to. So instead of criminalizing their activities (which obviously is not making all of us into martyrs anyway), why not give them some peace of mind? They are as part of our Singaporean society as the person next to you. Don’t push them into a corner and label them like they’re a degenerate species of human life because their lifestyles differ from ours.

    Thio’s speech just saddens me. For someone who has a doctorate and has attended Harvard, Oxford AND Cambridge, her thought patterns don’t reflect the level of development that I expected of her. And if this is the kind of weak argument that the government is going to choose to stand by as a benchmark for what is our ‘national interest’, then I fear for Singapore’s future.

    Repealing S377A would be a major step in gaining support from the majority. Support that the PAP desperately needs if they even hope to retain their citizens in the years to come. But I suppose that’s just too treacherous a move because a repeal WILL result in a depraved, exploding pool of festering immorality, corruption and degradation, RIGHT?

  78. Andrew Loh said

    Belletrist,

    Something else which concerns me is the reported “thumping of chairs” in approval by the MPs in Parliament at the end of Thio Li Ann’s speech.

    I am quite amazed (and sad) that MPs would find her speech deserving of such overwhelming approval. Even if one were to be against repeal, would one be “thumping” one’s seat in approval of her speech – with its foul and vile description of the sex act, not to mention her penchant for over-exaggeration and alarmist diatribe?

    For me, the debate in Parliament over S377A showed to me the kind of people we have in Parliament and the calibre of their thinking.

    As you, I too am concerned for the future of our country – if we keep sending such people, with their doctorates from Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford but devoid of empathy and EQ, to Parliament.

    This episode has revealed the depth and character of our MPs, or lack thereof.

  79. Compassion said

    re: thumping of support – the religious lobby does have widespread support on this issue. it is unfortunate that superficial associations with religion has the effect of engendering an “us” and “them” mindset. by emphasising differences, people identify more strongly with their belief system, which perhaps may compensate for other aspects in which they feel lacking. not unlike the irony of the closet homophobe.

    the difficulty of maintaining a doctrinal distinction between fornication and sodomy is the achilles heel of the religious argument. i may be venturing into controversy here, but surely the doctrinal charges are directed against promiscuity and licentiousness, which though deserving of rebuke does not disqualify from compassion.

  80. Kris Lee said

    Yes, Andrew – Like you, I was much perturbed by the reported thumping of chairs. If a large majority of the MPs in Parliament were indeed doing that in support and recognition of that speech, then it is a major cause for concern over the future governance of this country.

    If it were true, I really hope it was because they were carried away by the emotions and the sound and fury of the speech, rather than being in total agreement with the arguments made and the logic (or lack thereof) exhibited.

    In the newspaper report, it was stated explicitly that PM did not thump his seat. I am curious whether he was the only one, or were there others like him?

    Then, I read somewhere (sorry, forgot where) that the newspaper report was not accurate. Rather, it was her lobbyists and supporters who were thumping their seats in the public gallery.

    Wonder if there is any actual video footage of the supposed chair thumping by the majority in the House? Or are there people who were present during that Parliament session to clarify the situation one way or the other?

  81. […] On the Singapore blogosphere, it seems to me that plenty of bloggers have taken issue with Dr. Thio Li Ann’s speech in Parliament on the merits of retaining the said act. This is her speech in full.   […]

  82. […] has NMP Thio Li-Ann making her police report over her speech over the debate of 377A. The speech is here. And in any case, by now you should have read about her infamous speech, unless you have been […]

  83. Load of crap said

    If she could flag 4 red herrings from MP Siew Kum Hong’s speech, we could easily pick out 3 times more from her speech. Half-truths and whole lies. The point about how anus is not designed for sexual pleasure is totally ridiculous. Should we ban oral sex next since technically, it’s not designed to receive the male (or female for the matter) sex organ either? Also, AIDS does discriminate. Only people do. The fact that it is perhaps prevalent amongst the male gay community has more to do with bad sexual practices than sexual inclinations per se.

  84. Atheist said

    This speech is another clear example of how harmful religion is, and how it turns smart people into blathering idiots.

  85. Sane Man said

    Compassion:

    With regard to the doctrinal issues here, it’s complicated. Thio doesn’t seem to have a coherent stance on this. She follows some kind of bizarre natural law tradition, going by her repeated use of the Perverse Use argument (which, by the way, has been abandoned by even the most hardcore natural lawyers, since it is clearly flawed). But presumably then she has to fall back on a more instrumental teleological perspective: sex and family life are goods which relate to procreation and the bringing up of children, etc.

    But in that case, clearly she ought to be in favour of laws restricting oral and anal sex for straights, in addition to prohibitions on birth control. But she isn’t.

    Indeed, I think her tortured attempts to justify prohibiting gay anal and oral sex BUT NOT straight anal and oral sex reveal the truth about her: for all her ostensibly intellectual arguments against homosexuality, at heart her opposition is not grounded in some kind of philosophical or even religious conviction about the evil of homosexuality, but rather in a visceral fear and loathing of gays.

  86. retro said

    Kris Lee: “Yes, Andrew – Like you, I was much perturbed by the reported thumping of chairs. If a large majority of the MPs in Parliament were indeed doing that in support and recognition of that speech, then it is a major cause for concern over the future governance of this country.”

    Isn’t it clear that the majority of the MP’s support 377A. You may be perturbed, but these are the elected representatives of the people. You have your opinion, and the MP’s have theirs. To each his own.

  87. sick of all this shit said

    More of the irrational and pathological hatred of gays exhibited by evangelical christians who blame everything that goes wrong in the world on gays- from Katrina to war dead to 9/11
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12071434/

  88. WeiHan said

    When she is not based on anything philosophical or religious conviction as evident in the incoherence of all her stance on various issues, but all is based on loathe and fear of gay: there is one word to describe her. Bigot!

    This not name-calling. By definition, it is just as it is.

  89. […] Parliament and on the blogospheree, and this debate only got livelier when a NMP Thio Li-Ann made a speech in Parliament some have compared to being a […]

  90. S. H. Lew said

    Aginst repealling 377a says:
    I have been reading about gays and homosexual people and I’m very confused really. Can somebody please enlighten me on what do they do sexually.
    Correct me if I am wrong on these assumptions:
    1. Homosexuals and gays are male people who who carry out
    sexual intercourse using the penis and anus.
    2. In a homosexual or gay relationship, one male person acts as the female and the other male as the male.
    3. Is there any record of homosexual four legged animals?

    To the last question, if it is a “no”, are not human beings worse than animals?

  91. James Chia said

    S.H.Lew,
    In a gay relationship, usually one guy would be the ‘top’ who will penetrate into his ‘bottom’ partner’s anus. There has been proofs that animals do engage in homosexual activities i.e. they are gay and lesbian animals.

  92. […] http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/10/23/377a-serves-public-morality-nmp-thio-li-ann/ […]

  93. scientist said

    Actually, in many species in the animal kingdom, only one dominant male in the community has “breeding” rights. of course, other males will constantly seek to challenge the dominance of the dominant one and seek to perpetuate its own offspring. until one actually succeeds, it is anybody’s guess what the rest do to satisfy themselves.

    the dominant male in some species may also bugger submissive males as a display of dominance.

    it’s on NatGeo – nature documentaries don’t lie.

    of course, this begs the question whether similar behaviour in humans may be justified on grounds that the animals do it too. not insinuating one way or the other. moral, ethical question – don’t have all the answers here………

  94. Paul said

    Let me attempt to clarify some of the mis-perceptions about Christianity that may arise on the recent debate about homosexuality, and the appropriate stand Christians may adopt on this issue.

    As Christians, we love all sinners, but not their sins. Be it gays, or terrorists, they are welcome to go to church/God as they are- to seek the Truth, and be transformed into Christ-likeness. We would first of all preach the Gospel (Good News), then focus on the issue of sins later.

    Majority of Singaporeans still do not share the Christian values, principles. Hence, it may not serve God’s kingdom very well by putting the cart before the horse. In fact, by attacking homosexuals harshly, we may cause them to alienate God permanently.

    We should take care not to add more stumbling blocks to the non-believing world.

  95. sarek_home said

    Hi Paul,

    Very sensible view. The problems are:

    Few people have the chance to explore / build this kind of personal relationship and understanding before the recent debate. When the debate came, they felt they had to act.

    This “first of all preach the Gospel (Good News), then focus on the issue of sins later” approach only works at individual level. When the debate came, it became a group vs group issue. There was a time factor to press the views before the Parliament debate. There was no luxury of time to work out that “first of all preach the Gospel (Good News), then focus on the issue of sins later” approach.

    To not “add more stumbling blocks to the non-believing world” will require the pro-377A group to keep quite, knowing full well that the gov will not move on this issue. But not everyone has the temper to “hold your fire”. When someone fire the first shoot, all hell broke loose.

    Regards.

  96. Caesar said

    Sarek

    Is the non-repeal of S.377A a pre-requisite to spreading the Good News? Does it mean that if it is repealed, Christians would or must somehow stop doing so?

    More fundamentally, should Church not be separate from State?

  97. sarek_home said

    Hi Caesar,

    The answer to both questions is “No” and my post never suggest anything like that.

    You should say “religions should be separated from the State”. In this regard, PAP is using “conservative values” to cover a broad groups of people as one of its excuse to side step the repeal request.

    Regards.

  98. WeiHan said

    Why is this bigoted woman receiving threatening letters?

  99. Caesar said

    There is nothing wrong with abiding by “conservative values” of the majority. If the “conservative” majority in Singapore wants to criminalise it, they have the prerogative of the vote without having to justify their moral or religious standpoint to anyone – that is their democratic right.

    It is quite different to harness this majority “conservatism” to criminalise the activity, where it is probable that such “conservatism” does not go to those extremes. Could it be the “conservatives” merely disapprove but do not wish to see anyone being physically punished? As the ST review journalist so aptly put it, do not ask, do not encourage.

    Let’s create a very simple parallel, where the essence of what is being debated can become clearer:

    Imagine a young child drinks too much pop soda. Most would approve of a parent taking the child aside and sternly explaining that too much of that gives you tooth decay and obesity. How many would approve the parent grabbing the bottle, smashing it on the floor, hollering at the child and finally taking one big slap?

    Both reactions evince disapproval, but express it in vastly different ways.

  100. Paul said

    My main objective is to bring in focus the right approach to be adopted by Christians, and hopefully to correct some possible mis-perceptions among the Singapore public on Christianity’s stand toward homosexuals, though my focus may not necessarily be in direct reference to the recent repeal-S377A saga.

    Christians’ foremost mission in this Earthly life is to present their lives as good testimonies, and/or to preach the Good News, putting God’s kingdom in upmost prority (i.e. getting souls saved into God’s Kingdom).

    All others’ concerns, be it public morality, ethics issue or as such, however noble they are, should perhaps be regarded as of secondary importance, particularly if in the process of pursuing so, may indirectly/directly obstruct the process/aim of preaching the Good News/expanding God’s Kingdom. (Though I must say God is not exactly after numbers primarily.)

    God’s heart is toward all sinners, be it great or small; He only hates sins. The Good News must be preached first, then the issue of sins to be dwelt thereupon.

    Essentially, no man needs to clean himself up before taking a shower/bath.

    And yes, Church and (secular) State should always be separate.

    Regards.

  101. Gilbertng said

    Paul says “And yes, Church and (secular) State should always be separate.”

    It’s interesting that most religious people will agree with this. But all over the world there’s this pattern of interference by Christians in particular to interfere. From the objections towards teaching of Evolution in American schools to the Pope condemning the distribution of condoms in Africa. Christians seem to fundamentally like to interfere.

    Besides if religion is so good and moral why seperate from state? Is this an implicit admittance of the fact that religion ain’t such a “good news” perhaps.

  102. sarek_home said

    Regarding this Besides if religion is so good and moral why seperate from state? Is this an implicit admittance of the fact that religion ain’t such a “good news” perhaps., one need to understand the original intent of Church and (secular) State should always be separate. Please read:

    http://www.expertlaw.com/library/misc/first_amendment.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state

    Stated in the first link:

    Originating back to 1791 when the United States Constitution was officially ratified, the drafters granted freedom of and from religion to those who wished to be part of America. However, as time passed, this freedom of and from religion began to take on new interpretations that the original drafters of the Constitution may not have foreseen.

    The original intent was to protect the people’s rights to follow a religion or their rights not to be part of a religion from state interference. Today, this intent of preventing the state from interfering with people’s religious freedom, is being used to block religion related activities from the state, for example morning prayer in state funded school. The table is turned to interpret the intent as denying religious influence to the state.

    The issue here is when should we deny individuals from exercising their political rights to influence the state? Can we identify and say that since that particular personal values are rooted from religious belief, the individuals can’t exercise their political rights?

  103. Gilbertng said

    That is a good point. Well argued! There is indeed no way to tear the religious impulse from an individual’s actions. Singapore has not yet had religious institutions per se trying to force the issue. Lets hope it stays that way =)

  104. Sane Man said

    Democracy is the right to elect one’s government, NOT the right to impose majority views on contentious moral issues on others, ESPECIALLY when a fundamental interest is at stake.

    By this logic, if 90% of the population were anti-semitic, then the government would be justified in forcing Jews to wear yellow stars, forcing them into concentration camps, etc.

  105. sarek_home said

    This impose majority views argument is called majority tyranny. The constitution need to safeguard the minority rights against majority tyranny. For example, in USA, someone can challenge certain law as unconstitutional and it eventually settled by the supreme court.

    The topic is well debated, if only people take time to read through arguments from both sides. I really doubt if there is any argument not being covered.

  106. Paul said

    Hi Gilbertng,

    I believe most major religions are good and moral. The problem is they hold strongly divergent views on certain fundamentals/doctrines, such that despite sharing some similarities in basic moral principles, the diversity of it all tend to create potentially divisive forces (if it is not already so) in societies.

    Also, primarily because of man’s imperfections, it may be better to continue separation of church and state, even for societies that are overwhelmingly Christian.

    There is essentially nothing wrong in the ‘Good News’ as found in the Bible, but yet again due to man’s weaknesses, things can go terribly ‘off-track’ even in the midst of well-intended practices/behavior found among christian organizations/schools.

    There is a huge difference in being religious, and being true to the spirit/true to God.

    By the way, the ‘Good News’ found in the Bible is: God forgives all our sins through His Son’s death on the Cross for Man, and one has to willingly accept this Gift.

    Problem is some of us find this silly (esp. for those who think they are wise/righteous by themselves); too good to be true; or keep insisting on more miracles or ‘scientific’ proofs needed before they would believe.

    Essentially, Christianity (or any other religion) is a matter of faith.

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