The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that it is, in fact, constitutional that 377A resides in law and they will leave it at that. Which is perfectly normal.
The articles that give power to overturn something like 377A in other (more liberal) countries, are the lines enforcing rights to family life, private life and freedom of marriage. This could be found in the form of a Human Rights Act, or a regional treaty such as the European Commission of Human Rights.
The Singapore Constitution have no such article and that is why the courts found it legit for 377A to exist.
Neither do the courts have power to overturn such legalisation because of the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy. Appointed judges have no business changing statutory laws that have been passed by an elected Parliament. Their job is merely to interpret and judge by means of that interpretation, or to build on binding precedence. There is nothing in our Constitution to provide for such an interpretation for 377A to be repealed.
But while we’re on this topic, let’s think a little bit about 377A – the section of the Penal Code that activists are seeking to repeal.
The exact wording says thus:
“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.”
Realise that it says “any male person”? Why so specific?
What about women?
To understand this, we have to recall what the original Section 377 was seeking to enforce. Section 377 of the Penal Code was a law on sex against the “order of nature”. This covered: anal sex, beastiality, oral sex and man-man woman-woman sex. This was repealed in October 2007 by – yes – a conservative PAP government in 2007. (Section 377 now is rephrased to criminalise “sexual penetration of a corpse”…which is still unacceptable by society… for now).
The law is now silent on lesbian sex between women.
The topic of homosexuality is divided straight down the middle. Whilst the voices are growing stronger arguing “for”, there is still a good, strong majority who will be deeply upset by any overnight changes. This is observed by the idealogical fights seen of late – penguin books, Pink v Red Dot v Wear White.
I dare say even if Party whips were lifted and elected representatives are asked to take a vote, it would be equally split down the middle. No elected opposition politician has taken a public stance against/for 377A, so we don’t know what the Workers Party direction is.
The original 377 had been removed. I’m pretty sure 377A would be removed in time to come.
I’d like to quote one of my friends (who’s a girl who loves girls), “…I don’t know what they’re so uptight about…it’s not as if when I walk along the streets i’m going to be stoned to death. I don’t face discrimination and 100% of my friends, colleagues, bosses and family don’t bother about my private life. Relax lah.”
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