Monday, October 22, 2007

Queer Sense

I don't like Faggots. Perhaps I'm just a typical uncaring heterosexual male but I've had enough dealings with homosexuals to find them as group to be self-centred, bitchy, shallow, uncaring and self-absorbed. Perhaps it could be something to do with the fact that I spent my formative years in a male-dominated boring school, followed by the army but I am most comfortable with my fellow men and least comfortable with women (particularly the glamour girls) and homosexuals - at least the glamour girls are good to look at. One of the most painful moments in life was having lunch at BANG Pr when I had to endure the prattle of a Fag and a gang of women obsessed with the latest fashion.

However, I've been disturbed by some of the comments in recent days about the homosexual community in Singapore. These comments from "Conservative" Singaporeans begging the government to keep section 377A of the legal code show a lack of rationality and a desire to celebrate prejudices backed by ignorance. There has been no attempt by these “Conservative” folks to sit down and present a clear and rational case for keeping the State involved in the bedroom. For readers outside Singapore, 377A is the part of the penal code that makes homosexuality a crime! Reading the sentiments expressed, I fear that we are seeing the ugly emotions that brought us the Salem Witch hunts, Auschwitz and Hotel Rwanda.

And I'm sad to say that the government seems to be pandering to this. This government, which has been known to "Do what's Right rather than what’s Popular”, has decided to indulge the prejudices of the ignorant. One Minister of State has declared that Singapore must be diverse and not divisive and since 377A is a divisive issue, it will be ignored. The Prime Minister has gone as far as to point out that we should keep 377A because that’s what the majority of people (who are conservative) want but they won’t prosecute homosexuals. This is a cheap cop-out coming from a government that prides itself in being “strong” in the face of public opinion. Iran’s President was more ingenious in dealing with the question – he merely denied that homosexuality existed in Iran.

Let’s get straight to the point – the state should have no business in the bedroom. Sex is a fact of human existence. As long as it remains an act between consenting adults, it should remain just that. The only time the state and the legal process should ever get involved is when one of the parties is coerced or unable to provide consent (as with children). There is a clear distinction between sex and rape.

But then again, when it comes to homosexuality, people are likely to come-up with all sorts of arguments as to why the State should get involved.

Let’s start with the fact that homosexuality is “Not Natural.” As a heterosexual man, I can spend a good portion of my brainpower on any given day imagining the pleasure I’d get out of a vagina and the number of vagina’s I could enjoy. The penis on the other hand does not capture my imagination and the only penis that seems to interest me is the one attached in between my thighs. For the life of me, I can’t imagine how any man in his right mind could find the penis of another man more attractive than a woman’s vagina. To me, this is natural.

But what about the guy who has no interest in the vagina but gets excited by penises? I find this turn on to be unnatural. But then again, my obsession with the vagina and lack of interest in penis is also unnatural to the other guy. Face it, we all find different things sexy. Even between heterosexuals there are differences. I find a woman’s feet very attractive and erogenous. However, I once had a partner who found her feet to be horrible and didn’t want me touching them – so that was that. What’s natural and wonderful could easily be unnatural and repulsive to another. As long as both parties keep their preferences to themselves, who’s to say the other is wrong?

Can homosexuals help it? A few heterosexual women I know have admitted to wanting to “convert” the “hunky” beefcakes in the gym who are unfortunately for them, only interested in the other beefcakes. Leaving that aside, there are plenty of arguments on the nature and nurture side of the debate to indicate that homosexuality is not an abomination of nature as some would have us believe. Women is brothels for example are likely to enjoy lesbian relationships – given the abuse they face from men, why should that be surprising? The latest study into the subject of homosexuality indicates that a gene, which some people inherit, causes it. Either way, homosexuality is not a disease that someone can cure by going for hormone therapy.

The second argument against the legalisation of homosexuality in Singapore is centred on the question of values and the family. The family as the “Conservatives” have been quick to point out that in Asian societies, the family is the most important unit. A family is of course, defined as a man (papa), woman (mama) and several kids. Any deviation from this definition somehow ruins the family.

This mindset reflects shallow thinking. You don’t have to be a social scientist to realise that a family is more than just a man, woman and several kids – it is about a network of relationships where each individual has certain roles and responsibilities. Sexuality only comes into the fore because the man needs to get turned on by the woman to want to make her pregnant to produce the kids. Other than that, family units are primarily about performing certain roles and responsibilities and homosexuals have proven no less capable than heterosexuals at performing these family roles. I know a gay man who contributes more to his mother than I do.

Furthermore, in a world filled with rising divorce rates, domestic abuse and children being abandoned by parents, homosexuality is a minor issue in discussions about the family. Shouldn’t the family brigade show it is actually concerned about the family unit by concentrating its efforts on solving serious family issues than on denying consenting homosexual adults the right to form a family unit?

Perhaps one of the most pressing issues when it comes to homosexuality is HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. The “Moral Majority” is under the impression that the “homosexual” lifestyle promoted by things like “Gay Pride Parades” leads to increase in this terrible disease. What the “Moral Majority” seems to forget is that the days when HIV/AIDS was a purely homosexual disease are long gone. Even in Singapore, the most likely person to contact HIV is a young heterosexual male. More shockingly, the biggest increase of HIV in woman comes from loyal married women. The continual linkage of HIV as a homosexual condition is irresponsible and reckless.

Another fallacy that the moral majority (who seem to tolerate prostitution amongst other things) seem to be saying is the fact that legalising homosexuality will promote it? I could be blind but I fail to see how this will happen?

Is there a rational reason to keep 377A? How can it benefit Singapore? The moral majority have gone on about maintaining the moral and religious fibber. But so far they’ve only shown a few misguided examples of the morals of keeping this law. Non of them has shown Singaporeans a clear rationale for keeping a law. The government even goes as far to say that they won’t enforce the law but they’ll keep it.

What is the point of having a law but not enforcing it? Or is it a case where the government knows it cannot enforce the law? And if it cannot enforce the law, why keep the law?

In a day and age where Singapore claims to need talent from all over the world, why do we insist on keeping a law that will put off people from coming. Why should a talent from say San Francisco relocate to Singapore because his sexuality will criminalized? No point saying – “Under our law, we won’t prosecute you but you’re still a criminal because of your sexuality.” Let’s get the state out of people’s bedroom and move onto a brighter future instead of letting our prejudices hold us back.

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