26 Apr 2007

Singapore - Enough of Enigmatic Words, Time for Government to Act

Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew Questions Gay Sex Law

From People Like Us

According to the Straits Times, Lee was speaking in answer to a question from Young PAP activist Loretta Chen, who had asked where censorship was headed in the next two decades. Young PAP is the youth wing of the People’s Action Party. The event was a gathering of this youth group at the St James Power Station, a trendy night spot, on 21 April 2007.

Especially as these comments were made extemporaneously, their meaning is open to interpretation. There remains considerable uncertainty as to what Lee had in mind when he spoke of taking a “practical, pragmatic approach” and not upsetting anti-gay groups’ “sense of propriety and right and wrong.”

People Like Us has long argued that equality for the GLBT minorities is more than just a matter of being practical. Fundamental rights are at issue. It is detrimental to fundamental conceptions of justice and equality as well as the constitutional development of Singapore not to respect these rights, whether with regard to GLBTs or other minorities.

Nonetheless, if the government thinks that it can sell the idea of decriminalisation – if indeed that was what Lee had at the back of his mind – through reliance on the argument of pragmatism, then so be it. The important thing is for the government to act. For many years now, it’s been one minister after another muttering words that have so far not translated into any meaningful change in policy or legislation. Enough.

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