Thursday, May 10, 2007

Decriminalizng Gay Sex: A Sign Of Eroding Social Values?

Gay Pride: A Symbol of Emancipation for the Gay Community

In many countries (including many US states), sodomy involving consensual homosexual adults are outlawed, and it is quite astonishing to note that even in supposed secular countries such as Singapore, gay sex is being stigmatized as a criminal act. It seems that the law itself has placed upon the state the patriarchal right to dictate what goes on behind closed doors, and that sex outside the pro-life format is deemed as a perceived threat to members of the public.

Recently, in one of Singapore's major newspaper, The Straits Times, a rather homophobic professor (the straight laced types, no doubt), wrote about the dangers of legalizing gay sex (Gasp! How unholy!).

The whole issue, it seems, centres around a little-known legislation, otherwise known as Section 377A of the Penal Code ("Penal" here does not refer to the penis, even if this whole issue is exactly about that - the penis). According to the Code, it "prohibits the commission of gross indecency by one male person with another male person."

Below is the summary of points made by Yvonne, along with my rebuttal:

Excerpts from the Straits Time article, dated May 4 2007:

Decriminalizing homosexual acts would be an error

1. Firstly, the legal meaning of equality must be understood within its social context. Equality is not an absolute value. Extreme applications of equality impair community interests and violate the rights of others. Furthermore, the Constitution does not prohibit all forms of discrimination.

Rebuttal:
What Yvonne is implying here is that the Constitution of Singapore does allow for some forms of discrimination against......who? Besides gays (supposedly), are other minority groups supposed to be the target of discrimination by the Constitution? Are atheists, agnostics, gays, vegetarians and other minorities at risk of being targeted by the Constitution?
If equality is not extended to everyone regardless of race, religion or creed, then what kind of equality are we talking about?

To even suggest that the Constitution promotes certain forms of bigotry, well, pardon me for saying this, is really tantamount to defecating and eating gourmet food in the restaurant both at the same time. Yes, it is disgusting and totally abhorrent, but that is exactly the point.


2. Like cases must be treated alike, but Parliament may enact measures which differentiate between different groups. The courts hold that such measures must satisfy two tests to be constitutionally valid. Firstly, the classification must have a rational basis. Secondly, the law must serve a legitimate purpose which is reasonably related to the basis for the classification.

Rebuttal:
Ah, rationale. I love rationality, so let us use this as a yardstick for her homophobic support for this "Penal" (Again, no deference to penis) code.
Let's see: Two homosexuals contend that they would spending a wild night buggering each other, and basically have hot monkey sex. Are their actions bothering anyone? Hmm...... hell no.

Are they subjecting anyone to any grievous bodily harm? No again. Well ok, maybe some busybodies with nothing better to do will arm themselves with a pair of binoculars and spy these "obnoxious" buggers having a whale of a time, and just maybe they would be offended. Sure they would, but wouldn't the simple solution be to simply look away?


Since rationality can only be served to debunk such bigotry, wouldn't Yvonne require another form of yardstick to justify her convoluted opinions against the gay community? Something archaic.........something religious.......now you get the drift.


3. In constitutional terms, equality claims operate within a broader social context. Homosexuality is offensive to the majority of citizens. Allowing an aggressive homosexual rights agenda to dictate law reform ignores the nature of Singapore's multi-religious, multiracial community. Such an agenda would be divisive.

Rebuttal:
Oh, yes, this one's a better yardstick. So the majority of us are religious (albeit worshipping different deities, but hell, then we'd be all offensive to each other, right?), multi racial (What has race got to do with it???), and........yes, different.
By virtue of this argument, Yvonne seems to argue that the majority of Singaporeans of every race and religion find homosexuality "offensive", but surely wouldn't that hatred unite Singaporeans, instead of being divisive? Clearly, our professor isn't as clear headed as one would expect from someone who "professes" to be a professor, but let's not get into ad hominems first.


4. Any argument to decriminalise homosexual sex must consider the harmful social consequences. For example, would affirming homosexual sexual practices serve the common good? It is a known medical fact that homosexual intercourse or sodomy is an inherently unhealthy act that carries higher risks of a number of sexually transmitted infections.

Ok, we all know that butt sex constitutes a risk factor when AIDS is concerned, but really, has Yvonne ever heard of this rather ingenious device known as condoms? Oh sure, condoms aren't 100% effective, but used correctly, condoms have been known and tested to be an extremely potent form of STD prevention.


Maybe she knows about condoms, it is just that her religious creed are aligned with those of the Vatican: Contraceptives are evil! No condoms, no birth controls, period. Damn, to think that we live in the 21st century!
So, gay sex is a threat to public health, so we must ban them, right? Ok, let's see. Cigarettes cost billions of dollars worth of medical bills and is responsible for the highest numbers of deaths, so why aren't cigarettes banned? Hmm, maybe its just me, but countries, including Singapore, may find the tax money incurred from cigarettes too enticing a buck to pass up.

Shellfish and seafood have the nasty habit of passing to us incurable forms of hepatitis, so why are we not banning them?


More importantly, there are more heterosexuals with AIDS than homosexuals. Are we suggesting a ban on heterosexual sex as well?


The list goes on, but the point is this: Human liberty cannot be dispensed away with some frivolous health claims and some disillusioned forms of morality based solely on cultural and religious convictions.


5. Moreover, any reform to the Penal Code must preserve fundamental values which serve the public good, instead of abstract notions of equality or fashion.

Rebuttal:
Fundamentalist values indeed! Yvonne may have given us a glimpse of the kind of religious upbringing that she has been subjected to.
For all the merry-go-rounds she has subjected to readers, this may be the most valid reason for he abject disapproval of gays: Religion.

Homophobia: A Case of Prejudice and Religious Bigotry

Like most hatreds directed against certain communities, such as Jews, gays, atheists and other minorities, homophobia has a lot to do with religious indoctrinated and perceived evils.

As minorities who practice behaviors that run smack against the grain of the common heterosexual varieties, their practices have long been branded as deviant and ungodly. The bible, in all its wisdom, has even decreed that gays are to be put to death.

In recent years, many theists and fundamentalists have also insisted that there is a high percentage of gays amongst those found guilty of paedophilia, even though there is no conclusive evidence to justify such an erroneous claim.

Personally, I am a heterosexual, but I really don't give a damn with regards to what people are doing in the privacy of their own homes, as long as you do not harm anyone with your actions.

As an atheist and a minority myself, I emphatize with what gays have to go through, because intolerance of this sort can act as a sort of catalyst to invite all kinds of hate groups in the name of religion that is similar to the culture backlash by Christian fundamentalists against atheists and other so-called "infidelic" creeds.

Fortunately, the Singapore government takes a neutral stance with regards to the gay community. As far as I am concerned, I haven't seen any lynchings, nor have I really read any news with regards to the mass convictions of gays for the mere act of committing gay sex.

Nonetheless, such discrimination are based on archaic and dogmatic reasons that do not adhere to any form of reason and logic. Homosexuals are not criminals, and to criminalize them with some stupid, irrelevant code of law is something that should be a thing of the past.

6 Comments:

At 1:17 AM, May 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just FYI, no US state now outlaws sodomy or any private homosexual activities. Any such laws were overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Lawrence v. Texas) and as such are no longer in legal force.

 
At 3:46 AM, May 12, 2007, Blogger BEAST said...

Well, according to the Penn and Teller show and the Michael Moore documentaries, some states still have laws prohibiting gay sex, its a question of whether the law enforcers do execute it.

 
At 12:10 PM, May 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that some states' legislatures never formally repealed their sodomy laws, but these laws were all overturned by the Supreme Court. They cannot be enforced, because courts would not convict. This is completely different from the situation in Singapore. In the US, the police have no power to even arrest for sodomy (the state laws are invalid, and any arrest could be considered false arrest) and lower courts must follow the Supreme Court precedent so there could be no convictions. The law enforcers have absolutely no choice in the matter in the US, whereas in Singapore they have a choice and are now choosing not to enforce. Please see the wikipedia article on Lawrence v. Texas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_v._Texas). In the US, actions by federal courts trump state laws.

"The [court] majority held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Lawrence has the effect of invalidating similar laws throughout the United States that purport to criminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults acting in private."

 
At 12:14 PM, May 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, Lawrence v. Texas was a 2003 case, so the formal overturning of these laws was relatively recent. Perhaps the documentary you saw was produced prior to the ruling, or perhaps the ruling was referring to backwards states that continue to leave invalid laws on their books. (Some southern states left similar laws banning interracial marriage on their books until recently, though these had been invalidated decades ago. Repealing invalidated laws is symbolic only, as they already had no teeth.)

 
At 4:46 PM, May 12, 2007, Blogger Beast said...

I get what you mean.

However, the fact that these laws are still in written laws at state level, still leaves room for abuse.

 
At 7:49 PM, May 17, 2007, Anonymous YCK said...

Well, we cannot ascertain if Yvonne Lee had a religious upbringing, but it does show that eduaction is not a full-proof defence against bigotory, At least what I percieved to be...

Few years back ID held a talk at an NUS LT. That does not relflect well of our institute of higher learning.

I have always thought that people are capable introspection and empathy. It is simple, just start by saying if I were him/her/them...

I wonder if she wrote a draft, read it aloud to herself before submitting the piece. If she did it does not bode well for her empathy or introspection.

 

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