Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
HendryTan

Wikileaks Usembassy Report Of The Singapore 2007 Section 377A Repeal

9 posts in this topic

Adam in a recent BW thread on challenging the constitutionality of section 377a posted a link to a Wikileak-USEmbassy article on the Singapore 2007 377a repeal.

I am duplicating that wikileak article here as the link may not be permanent.

Sourced from : http://cables.mrkva....e.php?id=135751

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

US embassy cable - 07SINGAPORE2254

NO BREAKTHROUGH IN 2007 FOR GAY RIGHTS IN SINGAPORE

Identifier: 07SINGAPORE2254

Origin: Embassy Singapore

Created: 2007-12-28 01:49:00

Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

Tags: PGOV PREL SOCI SN

Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.

VZCZCXRO0648

RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHGP #2254/01 3620149

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 280149Z DEC 07

FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4648

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 002254

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/27/2017

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SOCI, SN

SUBJECT: NO BREAKTHROUGH IN 2007 FOR GAY RIGHTS IN

SINGAPORE

REF: A. SINGAPORE 1404

B. SINGAPORE 394

Classified By: Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold for reason 1.4(d)

1. (C ) Summary: 2007 turned out not to be the breakthrough

year for gay rights in Singapore that advocates had hoped it

would be. After an extended and spirited public debate

fueled by founding father Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), Singapore

retained a statute (Section 377A) banning sex between men. A

series of surprising LKY public statements early this year

had energized activists, who hoped to take advantage of a

comprehensive overhaul of the Penal Code to repeal Section

377A. An online repeal petition drew support, especially

from among the professional classes, and then was submitted

during parliamentary debate by a "nominated" (i.e., appointed

and nonpartisan) MP. But ruling and opposition party MP's

fought back, saying they were sticking up for the

conservative "heartland." In announcing the outcome, Prime

Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated the law would eventually

be changed and, meanwhile, not be enforced -- an unusual

approach in legalistic Singapore. LKY had foreshadowed that

precise approach months earlier. End Summary.

Lee Kuan Yew: the Liberalizer?

------------------------------

2. (C ) 2007 turned out not to be a breakthrough year for gay

rights in Singapore, disappointing advocates who had hoped

for a major change. Since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

came to office in 2004, the Government of Singapore (GOS) has

consciously loosened social controls in an effort to give the

country a reputation for "buzz," even as the government has

maintained tight political controls (Ref B.) The government

has promoted the arts, licensed casinos, permitted racy

billboards, and even allowed topless revues. This could not

have happened without at least the tacit approval of Minister

Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who still towers over Singapore public

life seventeen years after passing on the premiership.

Still, some have wondered how comfortable LKY is with these

changes, given his reputation for "Victorian" sensibilities.

3. (SBU) So it was a bit surprising when LKY helped spark a

public debate through a series of public comments about

homosexuality, beginning with a meeting early this year with

young ruling party activists at a popular night club. As

reported in the press, LYK told the group, "You take this

business of homosexuality. If in fact it is true that you

are genetically born a homosexual because that's the nature

of the genetic random transmission of genes, you can't help

it. So why should we criminalize it? You have to take a

practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable

force of time and circumstance." In August, LKY told New

York Times interviewers that liberalized policies toward gays

in Singapore was a "matter of time." But due to the

sensitivities of "conservative older" Muslim, Chinese and

Indian segments of the population, Singapore would take an

"ambiguous" position, he added. "We say, O.K., leave them

alone, but let's leave the law as it is for the time being."

Petitioning the GOS

-------------------

4. (C ) Notwithstanding LKY's foreshadowing of the outcome,

activists and bloggers quickly took up the cause in an effort

to have Article 377A, banning sex between men, repealed as

part of the broader penal code reform. (Note: There is no

provision of law in Singapore that bans sex between women,

but the idea that Article 377A involves gender discrimination

against men did not become a significant issue in the Article

377A debate. End Note.) An on-line petition appeared on a

gay rights group website, Global Voices Online, and was

widely circulated by email, eventually garnering nearly 3,000

signatures. While political apathy is the norm in Singapore,

many noteworthy citizens signed the petition, including

multinational company executives, engineers, teachers, local

media celebrities, as well as civil society activists. Alex

Au, co-founder of the gay rights organization "People Like

Us", told us he was pleased with the public response, and

noted that previous on-line petitions had not been

particularly effective in promoting change.

No Repeal

---------

5. (SBU) However, in the weeks leading up to the

parliamentary session, local media began to carry stories on

the conservative views of Singaporeans and their strong

support for traditional family values. The

government-influenced Straits Times newspaper published a

survey reporting that over two-thirds of Singaporeans held

negative attitudes toward homosexuality. MP Sin Boon Ann

SINGAPORE 00002254 002 OF 003

observed in the article that the survey reflected the

traditional values of Singaporeans. After a long period of

public comment, the GOS submitted to Parliament in October

the final draft Penal Code revision bill, which retained

Section 377A.

Backing Up the GOS Position

---------------------------

6. (U) When Parliament debated the Penal Code revision bill

and NMP Siew Kum Hong's petition later the same day, nine

ruling People's Action Party (PAP) MPs joined the debate to

support retention of Section 377A. The MPs said the petition

had prompted residents in their wards to contact them to

express their support for keeping the ban. MP Dr. Muhammad

Faishal claimed the Malay/Muslim community wanted to preserve

the traditional family unit at a time when it is threatened

by rising divorce rates, single-parent households and work

pressure. MP Ong Kian Min insisted that, "Singaporeans

simply are not ready to change their family values and

endorse homosexuality as normal." MP Hri Kumar agreed with

keeping Section 377A, but noted that it was "virtually

impossible" to enforce (There were only eight convictions

under 377A from 1988 to 2003, according to press reports.)

Perhaps the most impassioned speech in the parliamentary

debate was given by NMP Thio Li-ann, who made headlines by

likening anal sex to "shoving a straw up your nose to drink."

Thio warned that repeal of 377A would be only the beginning

of efforts to "subvert social morality" in Singapore. She

was called names and received hate mail and even a death

threat (decidedly un-Singaporean behavior), but told the

media that the vast majority of the correspondence she

received encouraged her to "stand firm" in upholding her

convictions. The revised Penal Code, including 377A, passed

with only one dissenting vote, that of NMP Siew who had

submitted the on-line petition to Parliament.

Because I Told You So

---------------------

7. (C ) Alex Au told us that in a meeting of "People Like Us"

with several MPs following the parliamentary session, he had

asked how they knew that the majority of their constituents

had a negative view of homosexuality and whether they had

used polling to solicit opinions. The MPs had responded that

senior ministers in the government had told them it was so.

"Presumably," Au said, "the senior ministers will also tell

them when the majority of Singaporeans are ready to accept

the gay community." Even some PAP MPs are not happy with the

GOS position. MP Charles Chong told us he backed the repeal.

Simply relying on the view of the "majority" of Singaporeans

was faulty as they had also supported some "reprehensible"

laws which had allowed rape in marriage, argued MP Chong.

Opposition Lines Up with Government

-----------------------------------

8. (SBU) Singapore's only two opposition MPs joined the GOS

in opposing the petition. Non-Constituency MP and Workers'

Party Chairman Sylvia Lim voted against it and said in

Parliament that "...after much deliberation, we are unable to

arrive at consensus that it (Section 377A) should be

repealed." Workers' Party MP Low Thia Kiang even praised the

government for its handling of the debate as a "sign of

greater openness." He added that people are "more vocal and

more comfortable to air their views in public" and went on to

say that he would never "oppose the government simply for the

sake of opposing."

Mobilizing the Heartland

------------------------

9. (C ) MP Cynthia Phua told us she was pleased that the

public debate took place. The grassroots network kicked in

once the heartland heard about the petition to repeal Section

377A and people organized themselves so that their voices

were heard, she said. Phua thought this boded well for the

future. The political scene in Singapore, she asserted, is

"more transparent and inclusive" than when she entered

Parliament more than a decade ago. "Step by step, they are

learning to take an active role in civil society." However,

MP Lim Biow Chuan told us that the job of the government in

Singapore is "to decide what is best for the people and then

convince them to go along."

Change Will Come, Just Later

----------------------------

10. (U) After the decision to retain Article 377A, PM Lee,

who remained silent during Parliament's first day of debate,

told a group of university students that Singapore had to

balance between maintaining traditional, heterosexual values

SINGAPORE 00002254 003 OF 003

and giving homosexuals space to live their lives. Until

there is a broader consensus on decriminalizing homosexual

sex, Singapore will stick to the status quo," he said.

However, at the close of the

Parliamentary debate, PM Lee assured citizens that while the

statute would remain on the books, the law would not be

actively enforced.

Comment

-------

11. (C ) The unusually spirited public debate over repeal of

Article 377A reflects an ongoing "social opening" as the GOS

tries to recast Singapore as a cutting edge (as well as

stable and secure) place to visit and live. More

characteristically, it was part of carefully managed

political exercise in which senior GOS leaders established

the parameters of discourse and then steered the machinery of

government to a preordained outcome. LKY's prominent role

suggests he remains, even in semi-retirement, the brains and

master tactician behind Singapore's social engineering.

However surprising his nod toward gay rights, his solution

was vintage LKY; i.e., utterly pragmatic. As he told the New

York Times in a recent, unrelated interview, Singapore must

"go in whatever direction world conditions dictate"; if we

are not connected to this modern world" we'll go back to the

fishing village we once were." In effect, the GOS message to

gay activists was "yes, the ban on homosexuality is unfair

and will be repealed in time; in the meantime, we'll leave

you alone."

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:

http://www.state.sgo...p/singapore/ind ex.cfm

HERBOLD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this post, Hendry.

As reported in the press, LYK told the group, "You take this

business of homosexuality. If in fact it is true that you

are genetically born a homosexual because that's the nature

of the genetic random transmission of genes, you can't help

it. So why should we criminalize it? You have to take a

practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable

force of time and circumstance."

Actually I've always had beef with this argument about 'oh you shouldn't criminalize homosexuality because we didn't choose to be gay'. Does this mean that it should be a crime if a person chooses to be homosexual?

Perhaps the most impassioned speech in the parliamentary

debate was given by NMP Thio Li-ann, who made headlines by

likening anal sex to "shoving a straw up your nose to drink."

How did this fxxker get away with comments like that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't put my opinion into words, so here's an image i've drawn

3339w0j.jpg

orca888 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love the pic !!!

But the way recent events are going looks like 377A is going to be brought down by a different route - struck down by the courts.

This is a fuller description:

To rule a country, a LEGISLATURE is elected as a parliament which MAKES laws. The legislature can remove a law by REPEAL, but in our case, the PAP doesnt want to do it cos it will cause them votes. But the same law can be rendered inoperable (struck down) by a non elected JUDICIARY. This is exactly what is pending at the Court of Appeal. But whether the PAP government is encouraging the judiciary to do so, i cannot say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i do not call friends of family 'dumbass' if they vote for the PAP or opposition. to each his choice, respect each others choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A picture tells a thousand words - well done...even though it is a bit sad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Click clock,

Lets hope in a few months, if 377A is struck down, you can draw another picture with the wall broken by a judge's gavel !!

I will then print it out, frame it and hang it on my living room wall (with your permission of course !)

SP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0