| SAFE responds to MM Lee's comments on homosexuality
|Below is a SAFE press release in response to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's comments on homosexuality and the Penal Code, as reported in a recent Reuters article.
27 April 2007
SAFE is a group of family and friends who affirm and support gay and transgendered people as persons with equal rights to respect, dignity, acceptance and empowerment in society.
We are writing to express our appreciation and thanks to MM Lee for his recent comments at the dialogue with Young PAP and the interview with Reuters.
We appreciate the two cogent points he made,
1. That homosexuals are born with this propensity and not by choice. It is a genetic variation, not an aberration.
2. That the existing criminal law against homosexual acts in the Penal Code is outmoded.
We at SAFE fully agree with and support these points and are hopeful that the law that criminalises homosexual acts will be abolished in the proposed amendments to the Penal Code. We see this as a logical and responsible next step.
As with all complex human traits and behaviours such as intelligence, homosexuality is probably a result of many factors. Rather than arguing about whether particular genes can be found for these traits and behaviours, we should continue to accept our fellow Singaporean citizens and residents who deserve the same rights to respect, dignity, acceptance and empowerment as everyone else, and to be treated equally under the law.
We cannot agree with a law that proclaims our sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, uncles, relatives and friends are criminals for a propensity that is not of their volition, is innocuous and part of their private lives. For far too long our gay loved ones from a young age, have suffered deep internalized oppression, often resulting in the disintegration of family, compromised relationships, low self-esteem, stunted maturity and unavoidable deceitfulness.
We therefore support the proposed decriminalisation of oral and anal sex as proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs this past November, and ask that it apply equally to all consenting adults.
Since the 1970s, the law has been used in Singapore as an educational tool; we implore the Government to use it again for the same purpose. This will be a first step in educating the public on the nature of homosexuality, educating them to become more understanding, respectful and accepting of our human diversity.
The homosexual community is an essential element in the tapestry of peoples that make Singapore such a unique and cosmopolitan community. Homosexual men and women enrich our lives through their participation in business, the professions, the arts, and government. They are our sons and daughters, colleagues, neighbors, and friends.
Legal discrimination against homosexuals is unfortunate, outdated, and regrettable. It tells them that they are less than fully welcome; that their participation in Singapore life is subject to government forbearance. It diminishes the entire Singaporean community by allowing laws to stand that criminalise many of our fellow citizens. While contributing to intolerance it leaves the government and legal authorities open to the charge of being hypocritical for not enforcing a standing law.
As we focus on the richness gay people bring to our lives and our love and support for them, we not only liberate them, we also become a society committed to the Asian values of real family – strong, whole and committed to love against all odds.
Read the Reuters article: Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew questions homosexuality ban
| SAFE presents 'We Are Family - Conversations with Family and Friends'
|SAFE Singapore presents 'We Are Family - Conversations with Family and Friends'
Saturday 28 April 2007, 3 - 5pm
Pelangi Pride Centre @ Bianco
21 Tanjong Pagar Road #04-01
Free entry, by invitation/registration only
*Note to all guests: An appointed photographer/videographer will be present to record the event for archival purposes.
As a courtesy to other guests and our speakers, unauthorised photography/videography/audio recording during the event will not be permitted. We thank you for your understanding.
As parents, we all love our children unconditionally. However, most of us are not prepared to hear our child say, "Mum, Dad, I'm gay."
In such an event, you need to know you are not alone. There are many parents in similar situations and while it may feel as if you have lost your child, you haven't. Your child is the same person he or she was yesterday. And many parents can, and have from such situations, developed stronger, closer relationships with their children than they ever had before.
This has been the case for all the parents, family members and friends of gay and lesbian people, who will share their stories with you at this afternoon family get-together.
Come and join them in conversation as they help you:
- understand and handle emotions of shock, denial, guilt or anger
- understand the truth of what being gay means
- move towards understanding your son or daughter better
- encourage and support him / her in a largely unaccepting society
- manage relationships with other family members, relatives and friends
- and for those who have a religious faith, come hear from religious leaders how faith offers comfort and acceptance for our LGBT family members rather than condemnation.
SAFE aims to help families stay together, stay close, stay connected and stay committed to building relationships that are too precious to lose. If you believe We Are Family, and would like to attend this conversation, please register and join us.
To register, please contact us your name, contact number/email, and the names of your guests (if any) at safesingapore[at]gmail.com by Friday, 27 April, 6pm.
Seating will be available on a first-arrive, first-seated basis.
| Straits Times: Law Society calls for decriminalisation of homosexuality
|The following text was taken from the Straits Times Online edition. Bolding done by SAFE Admin.
April 5, 2007
PROPOSED CHANGES TO PENAL CODE
Law Society: Give judges leeway to set aside death penalty
It also wants homosexual acts among consenting men decriminalised
By K.C. Vijayan
THE Law Society wants the mandatory death penalty for crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and firearms-related offences scrapped.
Instead, it wants judges to be given the discretion to either sentence offenders to death or to a jail term.
This is a key plank in the Law Society's response to proposed changes to the Penal Code by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Currently, the death penalty is mandatory in capital punishment cases, and judges have no choice but to impose it if a person is found guilty.
The Law Society also made several other proposals, including one to decriminalise homosexual acts among consenting men, in a 55-page report which was drafted by an ad-hoc committee of 16 lawyers and academics, and endorsed by its council.
The society's views, submitted to the MHA on Friday, were drawn up after Senior Minister of State (Home Affairs and Law) Ho Peng Kee invited it to study the proposed changes in November last year.
The report was posted on its website on Tuesday.
In arguing for discretion to be given to judges in capital punishment cases, the society pointed to a new law mooted by the ministry.
The proposed law deals with hostage-takers who hold the government or others to ransom.
A person convicted of breaking this law will face either the death penalty or a jail term extending to life and caning or a fine, the ministry proposed.
Noting that judges in such cases were allowed discretion in sentencing, the Law Society proposed that this be extended to all capital offences.
It said that changing the mandatory death penalty for capital offences will not reduce the deterrent element.
'This flexibility in sentencing humanises the law and reflects the evolving standards of decency in Singapore society,' said the report.
Turning to sexual offences - in particular, Section 377 of the Penal Code, which deals with sexual acts 'against the order of nature' - the society said the MHA's proposal to retain homosexuality as an offence in Section 377A 'cannot be justified'.
It described the retention as 'out of step with legal norms in the modern law'.
The society stressed that it was not arguing that homosexuality is morally acceptable, and said a 'significant minority' wanted the provision to remain, but the majority view prevailed.
The MHA's approach is that homosexuality is not widely accepted here. Having said that, the ministry has said it will not be 'proactive' in enforcing this law against consensual acts that take place in private.
But the society sees this as an admission that the section is 'out-of-step' and 'runs the risk of bringing the law into disrepute'. It suggests a complete review, and a new chapter in the Penal Code on sexual offences.
The society, expressing its gratitude that the MHA consulted both the public and it, also urged that a commission be set up to review the reforms.
Contacted yesterday, an MHA spokesman said all views received were being studied.
Source and copyright: The Straits Times
For SAFE's press statement on the Penal Code, click here.