337A is, without doubt, one of the most easily recognisable and most talked about mix of numbers and alphabets in Singapore. Whether you’re for the abolishment or continued existence of section 337A of the Singapore Penal Code, you’ve definitely heard of it at least once.
Sure, it might not matter to the everyday Singaporean. After all, majority of the population is heterosexual. It doesn’t matter to them if a bill legalising homosexual relationship passes or not. Some even say it’s a relief that such an aberration is still in place.
It matters because it is a basic human right. Parallels have been drawn around the world in regards to legalisation of gay marriage to legalisation of interracial relationships back in the 1960s. These days, we cringe when we see overt racism about, turning our noses up at how narrow-minded these racists are. In the same way, decades down the road, the same can be said for those opposing tolerance (if not acceptance and legalisation) of homosexual relationships. Is it really alright for us to judge others based on something as inconsequential as their sexual orientation?
“Legalising gay marriage is just one step ahead of legalising bestiality or paedophilia” is another common sentence bantered about. The key difference however, is that 337A gives two informed, consenting adults the right to have a legal sexual relationship, whereas in the case of the latter two, at least one party is not capable of consenting.
A common misconception that homophobic people have towards gay people is that these gay people will immediately start flirting and making advances towards them, just because they happen to be of the same gender. Going by the same logic, in theory, every man and woman will be interested in every person of the same gender regardless of their looks, personality and character.
People protest that it disrupts family values. It’s against many major religions. Well, divorce and birth control are also very much against the values that such religions teach, but it’s still a common aspect of modern life.
Another common argument that homosexuality is against Asian values. What people are forgetting that one large part of the Asian culture revolves around tolerance and forgiveness.
Singapore prides itself on being a first world country, but what does it say about our country when our laws are so draconian? Even Uganda, one of the worst places on earth to be homosexual, has recently overturned its anti-gay law this year. While this move is far from promotion of gay marriage, it is a step in the right direction towards tolerance and acceptance.
Many of my gay friends have told me that people believe that being gay is something that they chose. Why would they choose such a lifestyle? To risk disappointing your parents in such a largely conservative society, to risk the insults and downright physical abuse that remains a large threat to them even today? To know that many people think them an anomaly and to limit their love lives to such a smaller pool of viable candidates?
While the abolishment or existence of 337A does not have any impact in my life, the same cannot be said for members of the LGBTQ circle in Singapore. For every day that this law is in place, it is an extra day of being indirectly told that their love is illegal and immoral. That they should feel ashamed and penalised for something they have no control over.
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