Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Every Which Way But...

This letter was an eye-opener for me. I didn't realise the discrepancy within the Penal Code that discriminates between male & female homosexual acts (i.e. sexual expression).

May 15, 2007, ST Forum
Why is male homosexuality a crime but not lesbianism?

IN RESPONSE to Assistant Professor Yvonne Lee's reply to my letter, 'Professor's view on gay's prejudiced' (Online forum May 8), I would like to follow up in the interest of clarity and fair comment on the points raised.

First, Prof Lee feels that I have questioned her professional qualifications and engaged in a personal attack in asking questions about her essay. I intended no such attack and apologise unreservedly for any offence.

Second, it seems that Prof Lee's article has generated a substantial amount of debate, both reasoned and otherwise. I view this as a welcome effect as I firmly believe that only though public discussion will Singapore become a better civil society on such an important topic as equality under the law.

Therefore, contrary to Prof Lee's assertion, I am delighted to see the muddle scrum of public debate - informed or not, for or against - as it usually produces a consensus that current society can live with until the next evolution in local values dictates further review.

Finally, returning to the substance of Prof Lee's essay, the writer continues to be vague in answering the questions raised in my original letter asking for evidence supporting her generalised statements on the linkage between homosexuality and public health concerns; the existence of a broader slippery slope homosexual agenda in Singapore; and how 'free speech' as construed within Singapore's legal history would be curtailed by decriminalising homosexuality in Singapore.

To the questions above, I would appreciate Prof Tan explaining why only male and not female homosexuality should be a crime under Singapore law; if homosexuality is against Singapore's public interest why criminalise sexual expression and not the person; and how can homosexuals in Singapore follow her advice to live their lives peacefully when Section 377A (whether enforced or not) is explicit in making their private activity a crime.

Brian Selby

According to the Penal Code:

"377A. Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years."

In all likelihood, the penile code, oops...sorry, I mean penal code (couldn't resist *GRIN* heeheehee) was written by lawmaker/s of the male gender. Was it because of insecurity in their manhood? Did their machismo feel threatened? What was their take on the lesbian sexual act? So is it OK to be homosexual as long as you don't have sex with each other?

I wonder how the law professor will respond to this?

Addendum (May 17, 2007):

The law professor has spoken. And honestly, I am still not convinced by her arguments despite her use of big words & long sentences & quotations from a medical doctor in Massachusetts. And she still hasn't explained the reasoning for the gender discrepancy in S377A.


angry doc said...

According to Mr Wang, it's a 130 year-old law.


And the legend is that when the anti-homosexuality law was first formulated Queen Victoria vetoed a law criminalising lesbianism because "women don't do such things". Probably false, but nevertheless interesting. :)

And yes, the law isn't about gay people, but about men performing sexual acts on/with each other. If you are gay at heart but don't have sex, that's fine. But if a hetero male engages in mutual, er, sexual acts with another hetero male because they couldn't get a date and weren't willing to pay for some, they are guilty.

aliendoc said...

Thanks for the interesting vignette abt Queen Victoria. I'd be interested to know the real reason behind the discrepancy though...

Dr Oz bloke said...


Of course! Women protect women *wink*

No wonder lah.

And no surprises.....Prof Lee is also a woman!