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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

377A will be repealed one day, just not today

More and more, it seems that Singapore is ruled by a split personality government. On one hand, it's willing to take the bull by the horns and make 180-degree decisions, like building not one but two casinos or increasing the GST rate. Those take one year at most to be implemented.

On the other hand, you have things like the Penal Code that take more than a generation to be updated. This week, Parliament repealed several sections of the Code, including allowing non-vaginal intercourse (and possibly engage in bestiality too) and allowing wives to cry "rape" (though under certain circumstances).

Penal Code Section 377A is one of the laws that will take a longer time to be updated. Section 377A, which criminalises the procurement of an act of gross indecency by one male from another male, supposedly makes it illegal to be gay (though lesbians may have a free pass). But it needn't be so. I believe that 377A won't be repealed in this generation, but with the next, at the earliest.

Civil liberty laws tend to take a long time to be updated here because the government likes to tread cautiously. And it should be no surprise. This is "Politics in a Democracy 101". The party that wants to stay in power needs to garner the support of the majority. And in Singapore, especially with a greying population, the older people, who tend to be more conservative (at least publicly), form the majority.

Therefore, the government cannot afford to ruffle their feathers for now. If it repeals 377A, there's the potential that it may alienate its power base, which may cause it to lose support in the next election (as unlikely as that will ever be, but hey, why take the chance?).

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for 377A opponents, and it's shining brighter and brighter. Based on my observation, those who support repealing 377A strongly tend to be younger and more exposed to non-Asian influences, so they are more open-minded. And you know the saying: "youths are the leaders of tomorrow".

In the end, politics, at least in this case, is all about statistics. For now, the majority is formed by older people who are not willing to change the status quo. But there will come a time when the more liberal youths will grow up and form the majority, while the older, conservative ones become a minority.

And then Penal Code Section 377A will be repealed. Be patient, that day is coming. Just not today.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well said

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