I fail to see how Education Minister Ong Ye Kung can state barefaced that there is no discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in Singapore when section 377A remains on the statute books.
While he asserts that the LGBTQ community “live in Singapore peacefully, no discrimination at work, housing (and) education”, the fact that gay sex remains illegal is in itself an act of discrimination. Despite the government’s repeated assurances that “the Government does not, and will not proactively enforce the law”, there is always a chance that it could be used against someone as long as it remains in the statute books. If so, how can a gay person really “go about their lives” with the same peace of mind a normal Singapore citizen would have? Isn’t peace of mind and a right to feel safe part of the rights of being a Singaporean living in Singapore?
There comes a point in time when the government has to stop hiding behind policies and take a stand based on logic. Section 377A’s retention serves no real purpose. The conservatives’ aims are to dissuade gay behaviours. Section 377A however does not achieve that aim because the government has already said that it will not seek to utilise it. Section 377A will also not outlaw lesbian sex. In short, section 377A does nothing to further the aims of the conservatives. Why then are we even arguing about this?
The logical view is this. Section 377A affects the rights to safety on the part of the gay community while doing nothing to really further the aims of the conservative band – why keep it in the statute books?
The issue with gay rights provokes a very emotional response from both sides of the fence. In the case of the gay community, it is their right to lawfully exist while from the view of the conservatives, it is simply a right to be considered “morally right”. Which is more important? The right to lawfully exist or the right to be “morally right”?
The government being logical by necessity should really be able to see this. I have already established that the retention of section 377A serves little or no purpose in the furtherance of the conservative agenda. Perhaps the government can put this issue to bed by holding a referendum like Ireland. That way, we will know the true will of the people once and for all.