Singapore: repeal377a.com Singapore Campaign
We are deeply disappointed by the decision of our country’s leaders to leave Penal Code Section 377A intact, despite the cogent and convincing arguments to support its repeal. However, we come away from this experience with great optimism, that this is but the start of a process of public education, understanding, acceptance and respect for the gay community. The beginning of the end of the discrimination of one group of Singaporeans has begun and there is no turning back. We say this, because, for the very first time, the voice of the gay community was heard and acknowledged by the leaders of our country. Where once, the only audience we could find for our voice was on websites and in theatres, we have made history by bringing that voice to parliament in a dignified, rational and positive way. As such, our leaders heard us when we said:
1. We want to be treated equally before the law, as that is guaranteed to us by our Constitution.
2. We want this discrimination to end, for we are no lesser beings and must be accorded the same rights as any other Singaporean.
3. We do not want our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends to think of us as criminals. Much as it hurts us to know that the law considers us criminals, it hurts them even more.
4. We must not make criminals the hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men who have made invaluable contributions to the success of Singapore. They include, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, media professionals, actors, teachers, civil servants – in all professions and in every industry.
5. We want to be able to pursue a more effective strategy for the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among gay and bisexual men without fear of inadvertently promoting a criminal activity. Human lives are at stake here. We are also overwhelmed and deeply moved by the heartfelt support we received by many, from diverse backgrounds – gay, straight, male, female, across all religions and races, who showed courage and compassion when they spoke up for us and signed the Open Letter and the Parliamentary Petition. Though the numbers were impressive – 8,120 signatures for the Open Letter and 2,519 for the Parliamentary Petition, it was the heartfelt comments left behind on this website by many, that moved us the most and reinforced our belief that this was not just a gay issue, but one of deep concern for many individuals and families in Singapore. As a result of this seminal campaign, many who would otherwise have kept silent, spoke up. We know how difficult it must have been for you to put yourself and perhaps, even your careers, on the line. We would like to applaud your courage and conviction and ask that you continue to speak up, within the stipulated parameters of engagement. We’d also like to thank the artists who made the repeal377A rap video. You put it so simply and eloquently: It’s not just a gay thing. It’s about equality. Throughout this process, we have strived to work within the legal mechanisms; with a healthy respect for opposing viewpoints. We respectfully disagree with those who have tried to paint our efforts as being polarising to society. It is only through civilized debate and discussion that society can gain better knowledge and understanding of differing opinions. Our efforts were a reaction to what we saw as discriminatory the repeal of Section 377 of the Penal Code but not the repeal of Section 377A. Throughout history those who have fought discrimination have never stood idly by to wait for society to evolve and become more accepting, as silence achieves little and inaction breeds a lack of understanding. The intolerance and ill-will demonstrated by a few of our opponents clearly attest to the fact that we cannot be silent. Such fundamentally extreme views against homosexuality splits families apart and causes much harm to us as individuals, professionals and as a community. In fact, these are the very actions that cause divisiveness and polarise our society, for if we discount such views, most Singaporeans are indeed neutral on the issue, and consider consensual sex between adults a private matter. As such, we cannot ignore these radical views and we must respond (as we have) with rational rebuttals. Arguments that we know most of the modern civilised world shares. We honestly believe that history will judge this law to be unfair, and that the repeal of Section 377A needs to happen sooner than later. The ‘Wild Wild West’ of Europe and the United States are not the only countries that have non-discriminatory laws, for the conservative East – Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and China, among others, too do not have laws that discriminate against homosexuals. We are citizens of Singapore and take pride in being so. As such, the law should not treat us as second class citizens. The criminalisation of gay sex cannot be the yardstick for a conservative society. The gay community in Singapore is here to stay. We are not going away, and long after Section 377A is repealed, we will still be here, loving and caring for each other and contributing to the success of Singapore – like we have always been