News and Opinions

Broken Promises – 377A and Non-enforcement (Singapore)

Written by sayoni on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

The following news story was spotted on the blog of a local gay blogger – the original newsletter that was sent out is not available for linking. Club 1-7 is a male-only sauna, and such saunas are popularly associated with cruising venues for queer men.

From 1-7 newsletter

Dear members,

Our water supply was turned off at 10pm on the 25th April 2008, Saturday. When we opened the back door to investigate and turn it back on, a few plain-clothed officers from the CID rushed in. Sam immediately tried to stop them and demanded to know what was going on. They told him that they were conducting a ’spot-check’. When asked what they were checking for, they simply repeated ’spot-check’. the officers refused to specify what they were checking for despite repeated demands. Sam also asked if they had a warrant to check the premises. They refused to reply.

At this point in time, we turned on all the lights upstairs and downstairs to alert the members that a check was going on. None of the members were stopped from dressing or leaving, nor were they searched or any particulars taken.

The Old Man and the City-state (Singapore)

Written by Indu on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

The wise old man has spoken, and pearls have come out of his mouth. One pearl had F1 race written boldly on it, and another had a rainbow sheen. Just a sheen, a trick of the light upon the smooth surface.

Minister Mentor Lee has, surprisingly, given his stamp of approval for the decriminalisation of homosexual sex in Singapore. Following this widely-publicised interview, Reuters questioned him further on his change of heart. As to the motivations of his statement, it is painfully clear that it is bourne out of economic sense than any amount of sympathy towards human rights.

 

Those who remember the furore over the penal code some months ago will understand the relevance of his comments. The bill has not gone through a parliamentary reading yet, and at this point, public debate is important if we are to change any minds. MM Lee's comments have indeed sparked a public debate. The Straits Times Forum page is evidence enough of this.

 

Latest News of Bigotry (Singapore)

Written by sayoni on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

The National Council of Churches of Singapore is doing it again. In it’s latest attempt to uphold it’s medieval values of hypocrisy, homophobia and ignorant religious rant, the NCSS ‘encouraged’ the Singapore government to outlaw lesbian sex along with sex between men. Published in the monthly journal of the Methodist Church in Singapore, we
quote :

(c) We are aware that the proposed amendment to delete section 377 PC but on the other hand retaining section 377A PC may be controversial in some quarters. Nevertheless, we consider homosexual acts to be sinful, abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not. The NCCS commends the Government on taking a clear, unequivocal and bold stand of neither encouraging nor endorsing a homosexual lifestyle and opposing the presentation of the same as part of a mainstream way of life. At the same time, we do not condemn homosexuals as the Bible calls us to hate the sin but love the sinner. Given that section 377A PC criminalises homosexuality whether done private or publicly, we are of the view that a similar prohibition ought to be enacted in respect of lesbianism, considering that lesbianism (like homosexuality) is also abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not.’

Singapore is undergoing a major review of its Penal Code which the Ministry of Home Affairs is proposing to repeal Section 377 of the Penal Code which criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ while retaining 377A which criminalises ‘gross indecency between two males.’ Section 377A of the Penal Code provides a 2-year jail term. In short, heterosexual anal or oral sex will be ok but not homosexual sex.

Taking note of NCSS’s statement that totally ignored the proposed repeal of Section 377, the question for NCSS is, why are heterosexual anal or oral sex ok now for your dust-filled holy book?

A quick note to the reader :

The comment above is institution and issue specific and not to be viewed as an offense to the religion.

Relevant links :

Methodist Message

Statement from PLU

Sayoni at Penal Code focus group

Sayoni at Penal Code focus group 2

An excellent article on proposed changes in the Penal Code by Yawning Bread

A detailed reading into the Consultation Paper on the proposed penal code amendments by the Ministry of Home Affairs

Observations at a focus group meeting for the proposed Penal Code amendments in Singapore

Written by (Guest Writers) on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

As the Penal Code is being updated, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been soliciting feedback from the public about this proposed amendments. One of the avenues was through focus group discussions for welfare, grassroots, religious and women’s groups. I attended one of them by prior registration.

MHA’s Reaching Everyone for Active [email protected] Home (REACH) officers had organised the focus group meeting well. Light food and beverage was catered before the meeting, as it was to begin at around dinner time. At the registration table, attendees were asked to record their Identity Card (IC) numbers on the list, to indicate attendance. It would no doubt be easier to monitor a person through this number.

Inside the low-lit room, paper and pencils were laid on their chairs for attendees. A REACH officer presented a general overview of the proposed amendments before the discussion began proper. It was chaired by three persons – Mses. Indranee Rajah (MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, MM Lee’s team), Ellen Lee (a lawyer) and Rahayu. Attendees were invited to step up to the microphone to air their views. It soon became clear that the focus for the night was on the amendments which affected marital immunity for rape and criminalised gay sex.

Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE) had done their homework and came well-prepared with cogent arguments for the amendments which particularly concerned them, mainly that of marital immunity for rape. Each member of their organisation presented an argument which was received with knowing nods all around.

One such argument was that the marital immunity clause had been created by a British judge in 1793. It was not only anachronistic, it was also incongruent with the Singapore government’s attempts (e.g. the Women’s Charter) to dispel the notion of women being property. Ms Rajah seemed well aware that the limited scenarios proposed in the new amendment would protect few women. When the room was asked if everyone felt that marital immunity ought to be completely removed, there was a unanimous consensus.

Fridae’s Feeling Good party cancelled. Deja-vu anyone?

Written by Indu on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

Feelin' Good, a party organised by gay and lesbian media and events company Fridae, has been cancelled after the venue, Ministry of Sound, received a telephone call from local police on Friday evening demanding that they cease venue provision for the event.

According to Mr. Clement Lee, executive director of Ministry of Sound's parent company LifeBrandz, Mr Kelvin Yeo, Compliance Management Officer from Tanglin Police called on Friday evening after office hours demanding that the club cancel the event, failing which enforcement officers would come to the club on Sunday to shut the party down. The reason given by the police to Mr. Lee over the telephone was that the party would 'promote gay activities'.

Whilst Singapore laws prohibit gay sex, there are no laws against being gay. As recently as 2003, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was interviewed in Time Magazine about the Singapore government's non-discrimination policy for employment in the civil service, and was quoted saying gays are 'just like you and me'.

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