By: Ben Matchap
I am responding to Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s comment on HARDtalk, where he expressed his views on S377A – the law which criminalises gay men.
“My personal view is that if I don’t have a problem this is an uneasy compromise. I am prepared to live with it until social attitudes change.”
The problem is, as a straight man in a marriage, what does he have to live with? And just because you are willing to live with it because it does not affect you, but what about the opinions of the people it affects?
It’s like seeing your neighbour house on fire but you don’t bother to call the fire department because you are willing to live with it – does it matter that YOU are willing to live with you neighbour’s house getting burnt down?
Let’s all take a second to think about how gay people cannot help but to be gay. And because of that they get bullied in school, unfairly discriminated in places of work, get assaulted and can’t get married to people they love because society doesn’t accept them?
Marriage in Singapore is also tied to a bunch of things, like whether your spouse can be covered by your CPF, applying for HDB or even visiting your partner when they get hospitalised. All these are things people have to live with when you are gay in Singapore.
All we are asking is to take the steps to be on the right side of history, let’s decriminalise 377A – a law the government does not even intend to enforce anyway – to send a message that discrimination is not ok.
Yes, the gay marriage debate will come down the line and who knows maybe we can come up with a compromise? Maybe we can find a way to give people all the same rights that marriage would entail in singapore like housing, ability to tap into partner’s CPF and even adoption. Perhaps we can cover all of these under a different licence than marriage – just to appease the conservatives. But we should not deny LGBTQ persons of their rights.
But we cannot do any of this if our government isn’t even able to realise that status quo is harder to live with for some people. For then we are essentially denying the rights of LGBTQ persons and choosing to turn a blind eye while doing so.