Section 377A: Putting children first

7 months ago 389

Jason Wong and Mohd Khair

Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises acts of "gross indecency" between males "in public or private", is one of the most controversial topics in Singapore today. Some consider the law to be outdated and discriminatory against people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ), et cetera. Others who favour retaining Section 377A consider the law to be a critical symbol of Singapore's mainstream values on marriage and family, as well as sexuality and gender.

Apart from law and policy, the debate also has implications on a wider question of social harmony: How can people with vastly differing viewpoints coexist side by side in Singapore society, without resulting in clashes or conflicts over deeply held values? With these issues in mind, we consider what the best way forward is.

Since we started reading and writing about this matter, we have realised that children and youth are the most vulnerable in this great tussle of value systems. Foreign news reports tell of young children being made to learn that mothers and fathers are completely interchangeable, that gender confusion (an often conflicting and painful experience) is not just normal, but should be celebrated and accompanied by irreversible treatment from a very young age.

These practices may be harmful to children. For example, Sweden has largely banned the use of puberty blockers to treat gender-confused children, owing to harmful side effects, and the United States authorities have recently warned of side effects such as symptoms of brain swelling. Children are also taught that mothers and fathers are completely interchangeable, and encouraged to be sexually experimental since all sexual behaviours are equal, despite the science showing that some behaviours are riskier than others.

In Singapore, we already have local examples of school-going children encouraged to use gender pronouns in controversial ways and young teenagers identifying as "pansexual" - and the alienating or bullying of those who disagr...

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