25 October 2007

More About S377A and Gays

Sorry folks, I thought I want to stop ranting about this issue but the last parliament session made me want to cow peh some more. When I read the parliament speeches, it become obvious where the "poles" build their foundation.

Repeal 377A approaches it from "Clarity in Law Making".
Retain 377A approaches the topic from "Moral"

For sometime now, I have been looking at this issue on one side of the fence-the Repeal 377A side. I stand on the Repeal 377A side to listen to what BOTH sides have to say. The information I obtained from Repeal is loud and clear - Strength 5! The information I received from Retain 377A was like unreadable and noisy - Strength 1. There were too much clutter and interference for me to make out any sound reasonings.

So for the past few days, I move myself into the Retain 377A camp with the hope that the clutter and noise can be reduced so that I can obtained a less attenuated information from the Retain 377A camp.. True enough, I managed to filter out all the noise and found something intelligible there. Allow me to share my understanding here.

It is obvious to me that NMP Thio does not discriminate gays - she is merely objecting to the act of MSM (male to male sex). To put it simply in the way I understood (and I hope you understand too) is that it is fine if you acknowledge that you (male) are sexually attracted to another male. You can run around shouting "I am a gay! I am sexually attracted to another male!" and the police will not arrest you for that under S377A, although I think the police can arrest you for committing public nuisance under S268.

However, according to S377A, it is a crime if you (male) engage in sexual activity with another man. This means that gays are not criminals as long as they do not have sex with another male. To put it another way, a very direct and blunt way is this - if you (male) cannot have sex with a woman, don't have sex. :( Gays are not criminals as long as they remain celibate.

Still standing in the camp of Retain 377A, I turn my receiver back to the Repeal 377A side and I pick out this message "I do not choose to be a gay! I am like that! I was not influenced or made like that in any way!" I believe and acknowledge that these guys do not have a choice on their sexual preference. However I do believe that they have a choice on whether they want to have sex.

Another piece of intelligible information I obtained from NMP Thio is that S377A covers a heterosexual male experimenting with male sodomy. How I understood her reasoning is this. If a guy, a young teenage guy perhaps, probably still unsure about himself and his sexual preference, believe that the best way to proof his sexual preference it is to try it :O, probably S377A is the only defence he has before he says "Damn! Tak shiok and hurts like hell! I think I still prefer woman"

If I were to draw a two column table and place Retain 377A on one side and Repeal 377A on the other and list down the reasons for each column, "to deter males from experimenting with male sodomy" will be the only reason I can think of under Retain 377A.

So where do I stand now? Sidetrack abit first :P

Through my working life, I have been given opportunities to draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Technical Orders or processes and procedures. To me, all such "guides" have to be clear, concise and easily understood. For every single statement, I always ask myself "can this be done?" and "does this serve any purpose?". When it comes to more serious "guides" such as Technical Orders, I take extra effort to eliminate ambiguities. Technical Orders are technical procedures that MUST be followed. Non-conformance to such orders would invite some form of reprisal. In other words, someone will get into trouble if he misunderstood what I wrote.

I look at the Penal Code and still feel that S377A has to be changed. It clearly include consensual sex between 2 male in private and yet gahmen says law enforcers will not bother them. Hello! People up there? If you want to keep it, do it and tell all gays to remain celibate. If you do not intend to arrest 2 males engaging in consensual sex in private, change the damn S377A such that a very specific case is excluded. Take a stand, a firm and clear stand because we are talking about the Penal Code. It is not just about making the Repeal 377A or Retain 377A camp happy, it is also about making the law enforcers happy, happy to know that exactly what has to and need not be enforced.

Please take sometime to read the parliament speeches by NCMP Sylvia Lim, NMP Siew Kum Hong, NMP Thio Li-Ann and MP Hri Kumar. I read their speeches from The Online Citizen but I'm sure you can find it elsewhere including Singapore Parliament Webiste.

For the sake of protecting the integrity of the Penal Code - Singapore's law, please amend S377A instead of simply retaining or repealing it.


Gecko said...

Ahem, many laws throughout da world are broadly drafted for a simple reason dat it gives da law enforcers da discretion on whether to prosecute or not. Hard to explain in thoroughly here but ya have to understand dat in practice, there are many grey areas in laws.

Take for example da common one like where 4 or more are gathered together outdoors can be considered an illegal gathering. Now this would be a classic case where we all understand it dat it is for da police to enforce on those whom they feel are a threat to public security, else they'd leave ya alone, rite? Can ya imagine all of us getting arrested after coming out of a restaurant after a makan gathering, cos technically speaking, we'd be in a group of more dan 4, rite?

So likewise, understand dat sometimes.. and little gecko says again sometimes, there's practicality in maintaining shades of grey in da law of da land :)

khirsah said...

In the case of unlawful assembly, it is clearly defined as to what constitute an unlawful assembly in Offenses Against The Public Tranquility Act Section 141.

I do agree that there are cases where the action or definition is unclear. Under such cases, there is at least a clear indication in writing that the law enforcer are given the discretion. One example is this
"Prohibition and dispersal of assemblies.
5. —(1) In any proclaimed area —

(a) the officer in charge of a division may by order prohibit absolutely or subject to such conditions as he may think fit any procession, meeting or assembly of 5 or more persons in any public place..." In other words, it is not a crime if a group of friends gather together for chit chat. However, the (police) officer can order the group to disperse. I don't see any ambiguity. Mata say "Don't gather here!" We lan lan, say bye bye, go somewhere else to meet other friends lor Do we have anything like that in S377A?

Hmmm, I just wonder, if two gays are humping at each other in the privacy of their own room and somehow some neighbour not happy and report to police, will the gays get arrested immediately or will the police oder them to keep it quiet and let it go if they comply :p