Repeal s377A

I’d think of something funny to write about anything, but this isn’t one of the times that warrants any nonsense. I cut and paste for you an open letter to the Prime Minister which I hope you will read, then click on the link to the repeal377a.com site, and then add your name to the list. I also hope you put your real name, occupation and constituency, just to give it a bit more weight.

Why repeal s377A? I reckon, at least, for the same reasons the other provisions of s377 were repealed – such as the provision for ‘marital immunity‘, for when a husband rapes a wife. Repugnant, no?

I urge you, go to the site, sign the letter. Else we risk being citizens of the most irrelevant backwater, and a really small one at that.

Thank you.

The Prime Minister
Mr. Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister’s Office
Orchard Road
Istana
Singapore 238823

Subject: Abolition OF Section 377A, Penal Code

Dear Prime Minister,

As a citizen of Singapore, I write to appeal to your sense of fairness and equality, to take the lead to move Parliament and your party on issues related to s377A, Penal Code. I strongly believe that it should be repealed, not just for the benefit of the gay community, but also for the good of all Singaporeans. I also firmly believe that the time to repeal s377A, Penal Code is now, not later.

The reasons why this repeal is so important are manifold.

1. Singapore’s Founding Principles.
2. Constitutional and Legal Rights.
3. International Social Mores and Trends.
4. Domestic Social Mores and Trends.
5. Damage to the Gay Community.
6. Pragmatism, Leadership and the Future.

1. Singapore’s Founding Principles
Singapore was founded on the basis of justice and equality. This is reflected in our pledge. From the start, Singapore as a nation has staunchly upheld multiculturalism, with diverse groups living together in harmony by respecting each other’s differences. This has been the cornerstone of our country’s success. Since then, these principles have been further strengthened. For example:

– In 1966, a Constitutional Commission was formed to study how the rights of minorities can be safeguarded.
– The implementation of the GRC in our electoral system ensures that racial minorities are adequately represented.
– The Women’s Charter was amended to safeguard women’s rights.

Legislating that certain sexual acts are legal for heterosexuals but illegal for gay men is tantamount to our country taking an active step (for the first time) to discriminate against a minority group. That goes against everything we, as Singaporeans, have been taught to believe in and hold dear.

2. Constitutional and Legal Rights
Section 377A contravenes Singapore’s Constitution which grants equal rights to treatment and protection for everyone. This law is unequivocally discriminatory. We believe a gay man should have exactly the same rights as a straight man or woman.

We understand that there are elements of our society that do not see being gay in a positive light. They are entitled to their opinion. But their opinion should not infringe upon the rights of this – or any – group of Singaporeans. This holds true even if those who disapprove of gay people outnumber those who support them. In fact, it is the responsibility of any democratically elected government to protect minorities from the “tyranny of the majority”.

Section 377A violates an individuals’s right to privacy. Especially since what we are talking about is a choice between consenting adults and hurts no one.

Furthermore, the government’s self-avowed compromise of having s377A on the books but not enforcing it will bring Singapore’s justice system into disrepute. The Council of the Law Society states in its report to the Ministry Of Home Affairs dated March 30, 2007, that the law as it stands “cannot be justified”. The Council goes further to argue that the proper function of criminal law “is to protect others from harm by punishing harmful conduct. Private consensual homosexual conduct between adults does not cause harm recognisable by the criminal law. Thus, regardless of one’s personal view of the morality or otherwise of such conduct, it should not be made a criminal offence”.

Singapore has always taken pride in being a country where the rule of law is transparent, fair and clear cut. This reputation has served us well and contributed in no small way to our country’s success and should not be eroded by this aberration.

3. International Trends
The courts of many major countries have held the equivalent of s377A to be discriminatory, an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional. This is not only in Europe and America. It includes the UN Human Rights Committee, S, Africa and most recently Hong Kong. The legislatures in UK, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and even China have also passed laws decriminalising such acts.

Singapore will be woefully out-of-step with the rest of the world should it move to retain this Victorian legislation only weeks after Newsweek magazine’s cover story proclaimed that “the battle for gay rights is gaining ground across the globe” and hailed the repeal of laws similar to s377A across the globe as “a global civil-rights revolution”.

4. Domestic Trends
The attitude of Singaporeans have become much more accepting of alternative sexuality. Between 2000 and 2005, the level of acceptance has changed from 10% to more than 30%. The latest figure is taken from Mark Cenite and B. Detenber’s article in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Furthermore, the Straits Times online census in July 2007 indicated a tolerance level of 55%.

Admittedly, different public polls can often illustrate contrasting views and the sum of all these statistics makes it difficult to get a clear view of popular sentiment. However we believe that the law of our land does not exist to be popular, but to be fair and just for all people. This is a belief we know is shared by many.

5. Damage to the Gay Community

If the current amendment bill succeeds, the resulting law will become a bitter symbol to many gay Singaporean men, young and old. It will hinder greater understanding and integration of these people, who are often responsible, invaluable and highly respected contributing members of society. The only thing that makes these people different from the majority of Singaporeans is that they are biologically-pre-disposed to love differently. It will be a slap in the face to their significant contributions and encourage many more to leave our shores for more open-minded societies. Singapore’s most valuable resource is its citizens. We cannot afford to lose them.

S377A will also affect the status and moral citizenship of gay men in society. The government has openly welcomed gays and lesbians into the civil service. But this law will only discourage equal-treatment for gay employees everywhere and diminish the moral standing these men and have rightfully earned. We fear it will be a seed for further acts of discrimination.

Criminalising gay sex also impedes effective safer-sex messages being disseminated effectively to gay men and other men at risk of contracting HIV. There are numerous studies which have concluded that HIV prevention programs in environments where gay sex is criminalised are resoundingly ineffective. The fight against HIV/AIDS is an important issue which affects all Singaporeans. There should be no impediment to getting this life saving information out.

Branding gays as outlaws will be destructive to the self-worth of those individuals and could lead to an increased incidence of self-harm. Thought should also be given to gay youth who struggle deeply with this issue. This law would only add more trauma to what is already a very difficult period in their lives.

6. Pragmatism, Leadership and the Future
You and our government have always shown a willingness to make tough pragmatic decisions for the best interests of our country. Decisions made with conviction, despite opposition from various interest groups, religious organisations and minorities.

In a recent address at NUS, you talked about this issue and said that “we will not reach consensus however much we discuss it. The views are passionately held on both sides. The more you discuss it, the angrier they become. The subject will not go away.” Having admitted that we are at an impasse, it seems only logical that the way to move forward is for the government to take a lead with the same conviction and leadership it has always shown.

We keep hearing that Singapore society is ‘too conservative’ for this law to be repealed. This is not a strong enough reason to deny a group of Singaporeans equal rights. Far more conservative countries have done away with laws like these and are none the worse for it. We are a modern, democratic and secular state. While there will always be a place for conservative mores, we also need to protect and nurture space for tolerance and open-mindedness to flourish.

You have often said that your goal is to create a tolerant and progressive society for all Singaporeans. We urge you to now demonstrate your commitment to achieve this goal. Repealing this biased law will be a symbolic milestone to signal to fellow Singaporeans and the world that this is the vision of Singapore that we all share.

Yours faithfully,

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Bear Force One


“The road ahead isn’t straight”
Photo by Bekah Stargazing

Sometimes, things don’t go to plan, and even when you want to hang out and have a picnic or something, it gets cancelled. Could be the weather, could be anything.

So, for the disappointed fellow citizens out there, here’s a happy music video to put a smile back on your dial.

For those with a more sensitive disposition, I advise that you do not watch the video and then leave comments of a conservative majority nature. For the rest of us, please, enjoy.

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Damn you creative people and your idiosyncrasies!

Tetris

Your, you know, idiosyncrasies, are going to infect the heartland!

“Eventually I cannot put a finger on it. But I would say if this is the way the world is going and Singapore is part of that interconnected world and I think it is, then I see no option for Singapore but to be part of it.

“They tell me and anyway it is probably half-true that homosexuals are creative writers, dancers, etcetera. If we want creative people, then we got to put up with their idiosyncrasies so long as they don’t infect the heartland.”

I dunno. There’s probably an easy solution to this dilemma, isn’t there? You know, come up with a couple of useful campaign slogans – like the really scary one for dengue – “If they breed, you will bleed”?

Oh wait, they don’t breed. Well, at least most of them don’t. Hmmm… Oh, it’s just too hard. Thank goodness I’m not a public servant and have to think up measures to deal with these things. Good thing they’re so well paid.

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A matter of time

 Bio21 Images CfsemLast week I read about Singapore thinking about legislating biomedical research. I suppose you can think all you want but don’t expect the rest of the world to wait while they find new and interesting ways for the latest biomedical advances.
Yes, in Japan, they’ve come up with stem-cell enhanced breast implants! Now you can grow breasts for other people!

Via Elia Diodati, and the BBC.

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(Straight) Anal and oral sex to be decriminalised



Justice & Strength
Originally uploaded by Mr Hyde

The review of this fine nation’s Penal Code is almost complete, and one of the proposed changes is the decriminalisation of consensual anal and oral sex between heterosexual adults.

However, if you object to this proposed change, amongst the other changes which include 19 new offences, you can and should voice your objections at a special page on reach.gov.sg, which will be open to feedback until 9 Dec 2006, after which it will close, and the proposed changes to the Penal Code will come into effect.

I can’t think of a reason why that particular proposed change to the law should be objected to, except that with decriminalisation, the excitement of doing something illicit and outside the law might be taken away from such activity, you know?

Just as gum-chewing was once an exciting pastime up until it was made available in pharmacies – you went from outlaw to sick person in need of medicine. Not cool.

More interestingly, what I did not know, and only found out today, was that there is such a thing as marital immunity for the offence of sexual assault committed by a husband on his wife.

It is, um, encouraging to note that legislators are considering the big, big leap of repealing that immunity in conditions where the wife is legally separated from the husband or has taken out a Personal Protection Order against her husband.

I don’t know if I can be arsed though, to find out if they are repealing or amending the offence of ‘outraging’ someone’s ‘modesty’, which, to my mind, is probably the uniquely Singapore law. I still haven’t the foggiest what it means.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of One Love/People Get Ready from the album “Legend” by Bob Marley & The Wailers of which I have the original CD.

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Lesbian footage and other disturbing scenes

I read with consternation that Starhub Cable Vision was fined $10,000.00 by the MDA for screening lesbian footage when the ‘reality‘ show ‘Cheaters‘ was screened.

How could I have missed that episode?

For those not familiar with Cheaters, it’s a program that is so bad, it’s good. The last time I watched it, they featured a cheating boyfriend, caught on camera f***ing another woman in his girlfriend’s living room. The footage was then shown to the victim (the girlfriend who engaged the Cheaters crew) outside the restaurant the cheating boyfriend was dining at with the other woman.

This was so that the victim would be riled up enough to put on a good show of confronting the cheater and his ho.

Compelling exploitative television, and disturbing only because of its exploitative nature.

And so the cable company was fined $10,000 for showing lesbian footage, even when the offending bits were pixelated the same way as the offending bits of the heterosexual cheating acts like the one I watched.

From Yawning Bread, I found that there was such a thing as the Programme Code for Subscription Television, Para. 4.2 of which reads:

Information, themes and subplots on lifestyles such as homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transvestism, paedophilia and incest should be treated with utmost caution. Their treatment should not in anyway promote, justify or glamorise such lifestyles. Explicit depictions of the above should not be broadcast.

Wait.

Homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, transvestism are lifestyles?

Wait some more.

Paedophilia and incest are lifestyles?

Though I’m not sure if ‘Cheaters’ has been pulled from the channel completely (where it was slated under the ‘Family Tier’ of SCV’s offerings), I must say that there is something incongruent with the fine and the fact that Channel 5 recently aired the movie ‘The Salton Sea‘ without so much as a complaint letter to the Forum – there were enough drug references and drug usage in the first half hour of the movie alone to put down a horse.

Almost as shocking as the time when I was thirteen, and the whole family sat down after dinner one night to enjoy a pirated tape copy of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman‘. Nothing prepared us for the quite explicit, though quite stylised sex scene between Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

Those were the longest three minutes of our young lives, as my parents, brother, sister and myself sat, transfixed because we didn’t want to look at each other, mortified because we were wondering how much more explicit the scene would get.

Thankfully, the scene ended, and my sister broke the silence, saying ‘wah, never censor one ah?’

We couldn’t muster anything to add to that comment, so traumatised we were. It was only a few years later that I borrowed the movie again to really follow the story.

My family never sat down to watch another video together again. If I remember correctly, we went from watching E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial to An Officer and a Gentleman to nothing.

Um, so… don’t complain about censorship ok? It saves you from embarrassing family moments like that.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Marjorine from the album “The Very Best of Joe Cocker” by Joe Cocker of which I have the original CD.

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As regards mr brown

There is a conspicuous void in your friendly TODAY newspaper this morning.

I was asked several times this week what I feel about mr brown’s TODAY column being suspended, and what I feel about MICA’s letter to TODAY.

While I’ve declined almost all interview requests, I think it’s only fair that I say something here.

When I first heard about the matter on Sunday night, I was shocked, scared and then when I went to work on Monday morning, puzzled as to why anyone in the government would react so strongly to his column last Friday, which I found to be pretty-run-of-the-mill as far as his writing was concerned.

Later in the week, we received news that Kin Mun’s column would be suspended indefinitely. There was no reason given, but I kinda expected that by this time.

I was heartened by the deluge of comments on Kin Mun’s blog, and disappointed by the lack of response in the newspaper’s Voices section, where columns and letters from the public are usually published.

However, there was work to keep us busy still, (and for those who aren’t in the know yet, Kin Mun and I are colleagues in our little business venture), and our “I am Singaporean” podcast series meme to do for the lead-up to National Day.

But I was a little scared, that our fragile little business might be affected by the fallout from this issue, and that sponsors might pull out from our show, which is just beginning to chug along at a nice little pace.

I’ve often said that we’re in the business of entertainment – podcasting and writing to entertain. But it wouldn’t be true to profess that we don’t have an opinion on serious matters. We do, and sometimes, we let our opinions be heard. And If our opinions are skewed one angle or another, that’s just because they are opinions.

At first, I felt for Kin Mun, that he had been labeled a partisan player. Then I asked him, ‘Nabeh, how come play partisan never call me?’.

We discussed this further, over lunch and dinner, and I convinced him that MICA and the powers that be were really after me, seeing as I am often mistaken for mr brown.

So he, and our other business partners decided that it’d be a good thing if I carried on writing for TODAY for as long as our editors deemed my contributions good enough for their readers to enjoy.

That way, if MICA were to send another letter addressed to TODAY, referring to the anonymous mr brown, then we’d really know that the powers that be were really after me right from the beginning.

Besides, we need the money now more than ever.

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The ingterneck is essploding!

In light of Ms K Bhavani’s letter to the Voices section in TODAY yesterday, which saw a slew of trackbacks and comments on Tomorrow (whoa, brain pain… in TODAY yesterday on Tomorrow), Cloudywind uses up his spare time (he seems to have a lot of it) to compose a video tribute to my friend and colleague, mrbrown, who has just used up the office’s supply of Kleenex mopping up his tears. So moved he was by the video.

Nabeh. Later have to go supermarket buy some more.

Link

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Podcast: Tempted to break the law

Ever been persuaded not to put a valid parking coupon when parking in one of our nation’s fine car parks?

The moral of the story is, don’t give in to anyone who tempts you to break the law, no matter how well you think you know them, and no matter how silly you think the law is, because when someone tempts you to break the law, they can never be well-meaning. I mean, egging you on to break the law? And you listen to them? Are you nuts? Watch out for yourselves first! This is no first-world gracious society! Who are you kidding?!

This mrbrown show is sponsored by yearbook.com.sg, Singapore’s very own “School Reunions” site.

Podcast: the mrbrown show 12 June 2006: Tempted to break the law

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