Secular Arguments to Retain Section 377A

This is my open letter sent on 14 October 2018 to the Prime Minister (which was also sent to various Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament) on whether Section 377A should be retained or repealed. Click here to download the letter.

Notwithstanding that I am a Catholic, this letter was written purely from the secular perspective. I urge you to read it with an open mind and heart.

TLDR Summary

Key Arguments for Repeal and Counterarguments: There are several key arguments for the repeal of Section 377A. They include: (1) the non-inclusion of heterosexuals and lesbians; (2) a law which is not proactively enforced potentially risks bringing the law into disrepute; (3) it is not the business of the state to enforce religious dogmas; (4) sexual orientation is immutable (i.e. one is born with it, it is unchangeable, and is not a choice). Counterarguments for the above are considered. Personally, I have no desire for anyone to be jailed for private, consensual, homosexual acts between adults. See paragraphs 7 to 20.

Sexual Orientation Immutability: Arguments based on the immutability of sexual orientation (which is a foundational issue) are unscientific. The “born that way” hypothesis simply is not supported by science. Moving forward, the “malleability of sexual orientation” should be “prominently acknowledged” (or at the very least debated, instead of immutability being presumed or imposed) by everyone engaging in public discourse, political advocacy or legal challenge pertaining to s377A and related issues. See paragraphs 21 to 37. In particular, we will consider the following 3 scientific articles:

Floodgate or Fearmongering – Cautionary Tales from Other Countries: Does the repeal of s377A inevitably lead tosame-sex marriage and all other LGBT “rights”? Or is this mere fearmongering? The answer is closely connected to the degree to which sexual orientation immutability is unthinkingly assumed or uncritically accepted, although other arguments, post-decriminalization of sodomy laws, have also played substantial roles in the expansion of LGBT “rights” in the West (in particular, an aggressive version of the “right” to privacy and personal autonomy or the so-called “freedom to choose”). We will consider the stories of Canada, US, UK, India, Hong Kong and Hungary. See paragraphs 38 to 64.

Singapore Government’s Vision: The Singapore Government’s vision of marriage and families in Singapore, which is similar to Hong Kong’s vision, is that marriage means heterosexual marriage. See paragraphs 65 to 67.

Likelihood in Singapore: If Singapore repeals s377A, will it go the way of America, Canada and the United Kingdom? In my view, studying the stories of other countries, there is a high likelihood of Singapore going the same way of the West in terms of the proliferation of LGBT “rights”. The floodgate (or “slippery-slope”) argument is not mere fearmongering conjured up by irrational religionists or conservatives to impose their religious or conservative views on others. Rather, it is founded on cogent, rational and compelling grounds, built upon a close study of those who have gone before us, and the various routes they took to arrive at where they are. See paragraphs 68 to 82.

The City, its Walls and the Outer Fence: Traditional heterosexual marriage and family values is our “city”, and it is without doubt the declared vision of the Government, as well as the desire of the majority of Singaporeans (including free-thinkers, agnostics and atheists). S377A is the “outer fence”. However, as it stands, there are virtually no walls built around the “city”. If the outer fence is removed without building up those “city walls”, the “city” will in all likelihood be destroyed. We will then consider recommendations on how build up a constitutional, statutory and policy framework which protects and promotes traditional heterosexual marriages and family values as the Singapore norm. If indeed the Government still believes in its vision of traditional heterosexual marriages and family values as the bedrock of Singapore’s society, and that Singapore remains a straight society, it must act courageously and decisively. It cannot be emphasized enough that “the Government cannot abdicate its responsibility to lead from the front”. See paragraphs 83 to 85.

Conclusion: As it stands, s377A is an ineloquent defender of traditional heterosexual marriage and family values. But it remains a necessary defender against the highly likely subsequent proliferation of LGBT “rights”. The floodgate argument is not fearmongering – the legitimate concerns about what will likely happen next are grounded in real-life examples of those who have gone before us who were ill-prepared for the floods which swept through their societies. As a matter of the common good, including future generations, much more is lost (as compared to any gains) by removing s377A. See paragraphs 86 to 88.

To LGBT People and Supporters of Repeal: Those with same-sex attractions must be accepted with sensitivity, compassion and respect. “While there is much controversy surrounding how our society treats its LGBT members, no political or cultural views should discourage us from understanding the related clinical and public health issues and helping people suffering from mental health problems that may be connected to their sexuality” (Mayer & McHugh). As Mayer & McHugh aptly appeal, “We must find ways to relieve their suffering.” There is much research, understanding and work to be done by Singapore as a society in this regard. See paragraphs 89 to 92.

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