The paper aims at providing persuasive arguments in order to defend the position of the researcher on the issue of Section 377A of the Penal Code. There have been numerous debates in the Singapore Parliament about Section 377A of the Penal Code. The highest court of Singapore has upheld Section 377A of the Penal Code due to which gay couples feel that their right to equality is being questioned. As per Section 377A of the Penal Code, any male person who is found to commit or abdets the commission by any other male person, in public or private. Section 377A of the Penal Code was introduced in the Singapore Penal Code in 1938 (Au, 2011). It was introduced to criminalise all non-penetrative acts between men. However, there is still plenty of research work going on to determine the reasons why Singapore administration sought to take up such an issue and enact such a law when there were more pressing issues. During the early decades of 20th century, prostitution was one of the primary concerns in Singapore. Hence, British had found it difficult to use Section 377 in order to prosecute men who used to have sex with their male clients. In those cases, a new law of Section 377A which was weird to convict any form of non-penetrative sexual activity between men. Further, two men found naked in a place is sufficient to charge to be against those men. During 19980s, prostitution was one of the primary concerns in Britain. At that time, it was legal to have sex with teenage girls of age 13 years (Chen, 2010). However, buying and selling of girls alarmingly increased and it was alarmed by many middle class citizens. To address these concerns, Criminal Law Amendment Bill was drafted in 1981. However, a new scandal in 1985 aroused a new debate in Singapore Parliament about the law. There were numerous issues, such as social, religious, moral and ethnic surrounding the Section 377A of the Penal Code in Singapore. Religion has always been involved in the discussion regarding the same sex union and homosexuality. The religion in Singapore included mostly Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and other religions. Most of the people belonged to Christianity i.e. 33.35% of the total population (Chen, 2010). They believed that homosexuality is sinful in eyes of God. Hence, Christianity didn’t favour same sex unions. On the other hand, Hindus in Singapore had contrary beliefs and values to Christians. The general beliefs of a Hindu included karma, Dharma, Samsara and Moksha and they recognised a third sex in Vedas which is reference to LGBT in Kama Sutra. Hence, Hindus were in favour of same-sex unions or homosexuality. In spite of this, homosexuality or same-sex unions have been discouraged since it was believed that it was against religion. Besides the religious issues, there were many social issues surrounding the Section 377A of the penal code (Chen, 2010). In typical Singapore society, it was believed that heterosexuality was based on the ideologies that it is related to procreation while homosexuality was related to being stigmatized. Moreover, families in Singapore were very strict about their religion and hence opposed same-sex unions. The concept of ‘heterosexual matrix’ was valid for typical Singapore families and when this matrix was altered, families were required to cope with the alteration. Families had to decide to either resist it or accept it. Alternatively, individuals had to face the reaction of society and families (Young, 2007). As a result, homosexuals choose not to announce their sexual orientation in order to safeguard the honour of their families and parents in society. Due to mass opposition of same-sex unions, Section 377A of the penal code had to establish. Hence, the penal code revised the law criminalising the men to make physical relations. As a result of the revision, Section 377 A was formed. Section 377 A is a law that prohibits adult men to indulge in oral and anal sex (Sanders, 2007). Following this, there were numerous debates carried by people who were against or for the legislation. Many online petitions were filed by the supporters of same-sex unions through keep377a.com and repeal377a.com (Gupta, 2006). The arguments presented in favour of 377a included the position of secular state and slippery slope argument. Foremost, it was put forward that secular state should accept the view of the majority and reject the view of minority. Members of Parliament in Singapore phrased that abolishing 377a would send wrong signal to the society that the living styles of the people have changed (Taylor, 2007). Hence, homosexuality could never become a lifestyle and acceptable social norm in Singapore. Secondly, slippery slope argument presented by MPs in parliament ruled out that same-sex unions and adoption of child by them should be legalised and then stalled before they come into effect. This is a scenario is Taiwan but this kind of step could lead numerous legislative problems in the Parliament and might also lead to societal issues due to wide-ranging views. Thirdly, passing a law prohibiting the male-male sex would protect traditional family structures and values (Gopalan, 2007). However, many studies reveal that 377a couldn’t be regarded as a symbol of secular state as a secular state should balance the interest of different groups. 377a couldn’t achieve neutrality (Sanders, 2007).
In nutshell, it can be concluded that enactment of Section 377a was followed by mix reactions from different groups of society. On one hand, Christians were against the same-sex unions while on the other hand, Hindus were favouring it. These prejudices were found to come from incomplete and wrong information. Studies reveal that unbiased sex education can help people change their mindsets regarding the same-sex unions or homosexuality. Homosexuality is not illegal but Singaporeans are taught that it is illegal.
Au, A. (2011). "When you should vote PAP". Yawning Bread.
Chen, J. (2010). "Singapore's Culture War Over Section 377A: Through the Lens of Public Choice and Multi-Lingual Research". Social Science Research Network.
Young, T. (2007). "Our Time Has Come". Trevvy.
Sanders, D. (2007), (PDF). "377 – and the unnatural afterlife of British colonialism". Fridae.
Taylor, P. (2007). "Why Section 377A is redundant". Yawning Bread.
Gopalan, M. (2007). "A heftier list of s. 377A cases". Yawning Bread.
Sanders, D. (2007). "The mystery of 377". Fridae.
Gupta, A. (2006). "Section 377 and the Dignity of Indian Homosexuals". The Economic and Political Weekly.
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