“Hi Sean, I’m doing a story on Section 377A. How does it stop people from living their life?”
This was a question posed to me by a journalist from a popular online publisher looking for a sound-bite.
As a publicly ‘out’ millennial with very supportive friends and colleagues, my honest answer to that question would have been ‘It doesn’t‘. Not on the surface at least. The same applies to many of my peers.
Granted, my parents aren’t exactly the most accepting. But they don’t stop me from hitting the gay clubs or swiping through men on Tinder. We’ve since slipped into a ‘don’t ask don’t tell‘ policy which frankly, works for me, since I’m not one who would confide in them even if they were to be all ears.
Yes, as long as Section 377A stands, I would never be able to get married and have kids. But heck, I can barely hold down a relationship so settling down is not exactly a concern for me right now.
I don’t have the statistics to prove it. But I can safely say that a lot of people reading this would be able to relate to my situation. That is, Section 377A doesn’t affect us. Literally nobody in Singapore lives in fear of being arrested for engaging in butt sex.
It’s a peculiar situation really. One that not many activists or homophobes seem to be aware of – a significant portion of the gay populace don’t give a hoot about Section 377A.
You’ll be surprised at the number of times a gay person tells me that they don’t care for the repeal of Section 377A. I’m not just referring to a few isolated incidents. There are a lot of gay men out there who are truly indifferent towards Section 377A.
Their reasons are many and varied. For some, their disdain for gay culture has somehow affected their opinion on human rights. A link I never understood because Section 377A or not, the gay community, like any social group, is always going to have its fair share of politics and drama. For others, they believe we shouldn’t rock the boat. After all, since the law is not enforceable, we should just live and let live.
The most common argument however, is that Section 377A has never affected them or the people around them. So why care for a cause that has had no bearing on their lives?
It’s a valid argument really. One that’s hard to counter… if it was actually true.
The funny thing is that so many gay men have grown so accustomed to the implicit homophobia prevalent in Singapore that they don’t even recognise the ramifications this antiquated law has on their lives.
‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ policy at home? Can’t be helped, Asian parents.
Got called a sissy in school? Just man up and don’t let bullies get to you.
Need to hide your sexuality at work? Aiya sexual orientation is personal no need to broadcast to the whole world.
Can’t get married or have kids? Hahaha gave this fantasy up a long time ago.
Maybe it’s political apathy. Or maybe it’s just low expectations. But the thing about Singaporeans is that we are very good at making do with what we have.
We’ve become so used to the way the LGBTQ+ community is treated in Singapore that we don’t question why things are the way they are. Why are so many parents ashamed of their queer children? Why does being effeminate make one a natural target for bullies? Why does getting married or having kids seem like such a faraway fantasy?
In short, growing up with Section 377A has made Singaporeans incapable of imagining a better, more inclusive Singapore.
So Dear Gay People,
Whether you realise it or not, Section 377A does affect you. And its effect on society is widespread.
Section 377A sends a strong message to the populace that same-sex attraction is ‘wrong’ and ‘criminal’, which in turn, propagates stigma and prejudice against the gay community. This law shapes mindsets, results in lack of visibility in media and encourages ignorance, hate and misconceptions. Most of all, it strips the queer community of basic human rights.
So while the government allows the proliferation of gay clubs, bars and saunas, it’s a tad sad if that is all the gay community aspires for. This is not a time to be indifferent. Sitting on the fence at a time like this means you are implicitly supporting the discriminatory status quo.
So it’s time we stop making do with what we have and start working for a Singapore where people are free to be themselves.
If you believe in a better, more inclusive Singapore, then please sign this petition and make your voice heard: http://bit.ly/Repeal377APetition
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