Saturday, October 01, 2011
Can You Get It Right?
One of the most amusing things about Singapore is its legal code when it comes to the area of sex. Although we have sold ourselves to the rest of the world as an anally obsessive society that views sex as a National Obligation rather than a social pleasure (We are not lusty Westerners or Whores from the rest of Asia), we have some of the most liberal laws in the world when it comes to prostitution. As long as you’re not forcing people to work in the business, you are free to sell your body in “oppressive” Singapore – something which you most certainly wouldn’t do in “Liberal” New York. However, while we have a thriving Red Light district, we have banned all forms of pornography. Smuggling a copy of Play Boy into the country could get you a similar fine to smuggling cigarettes. What is interesting about sex as an industry is even more so when it comes to private acts in the bedroom. For many years we remained a country that banned the blow-job as a means to an end (technically the lady can do it to get you hard – but you’ve got to do something else after you’ve got it up – don’t ask me how they tried to enforce this). We, as a nation, remain one of the few on the planet where marital rape remains a perfectly legal activity. Simply put, if I’m in the mood and the Mrs isn’t, I’ll just force myself onto her. As far as the penal code is concerned, its my legal right as a husband to get plenty of action regardless of what she thinks (of course the Woman’s Charter protects her property in ways that it doesn’t for her body. She initiates divorce and I end up having to maintain her. I cannot claim a penny her even if she makes in a day what I make in a month). However, if I was a homosexual, I would be committing a criminal offence with my consenting partner is we decided to have sex in the privacy of our bedroom. According to the Society of Conservative She-Males, allowing two consenting adults to do something in the privacy of their bedroom would ruin the morals of society. The Prime Minister, unfortunately seems to agree with this and so, we have a law called S377A. However, the Prime Minister himself as declared that the law will not be “pro-actively” enforced. When you look at the various contradictions in Singapore’s legal code when it comes to governing sexual activity, one can’t help but be amused. I, for one, have always found S377A amusing because it brings out the worst in my fellow countrymen. You have intelligent, working professionals lauding the conservative she-male as a bastion of morality when she makes the spurious argument that allowing two-consenting adults to do something in the privacy of their bedroom is somehow bad for everyone else who isn’t privy to the act. The keeping of S377A was ridiculous and just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they promptly did. Thanks to the stupidity of the law enforcers, Singapore’s favourite Pantomime, Mr M Ravi (Westerners call him a “Human Rights” lawyer – the people who actually know ie the Indian Community prefer the term nut-job but then again, this is Singapore so the views of Westerners prevails the views of local Indians), is actually going to have the chance of winning a case based on solid legal arguments. The background of the case is simple enough. Two chaps were caught doing something naughty in a public toilet in a shopping mall in September 2010. The men were charged under S377A. Mr Ravi then challenged the constitutionality of the act and the Attorney General’s chambers then withdrew the charge and replaced it with charge S294A, which deals with public obscenity. Mr Ravi, who has a talent for publicity, promptly continued the challenge to S377A. The man has suddenly found that you don’t need the circus when you represent clients. He’s found a very brilliant legal point – S377A actually contradicts section 12 of the Singapore Constitution which “Guarantees” Equality of all. How can you argue against that? Well, the likes of the conservative she-males will argue that sexual orientation is not the same as ethnicity or religion so sexual orientation does not get the same treatment as race or religion. However, that argument fails because the lesbians are perfectly entitled to have lesbian sex. Not only is it perfectly legal for lesbians to do what they want in the privacy of their bedroom, lesbian events are happily publicised to the rest of the world. So, it’s OK to do naughty things if you are a heterosexual and a dyke but somehow being a “Fairy Boy” is a crime? Does that make sense? Anyway, the challenge is going through the courts and the moment and I’m sure everyone will have plenty to say about it. My question remains – why did the AGC decide to bring charges against the men under S377A? I agree that the men deserved to get charge but the charge should have been for public obscenity. Let’s face it, I don’t mind what you do in the privacy of your bedroom but do I necessarily need to run the risk of running into someone committing a sexual act in a public place. More importantly, do I need my kids running the risk of watching you do naughty things in public? So yes they should have been charged for public obscenity. However, the law of S377A is specific. It refers to anal sex between two men and nothing else. There is no record of the two men having anal sex. The available records show that the men in question were having oral sex. So, regardless of whether the justices find in favour of Mr Ravi or not, S377A would not have worked anyway. The men were not in contradiction of the law. Now, here’s the question – why didn’t anyone in the police department or the AG’s chambers pick that up. You are talking about the chief prosecutor in the land here and if I, with non-existent legal experience can pick that up, why the hell was the nation’s chief legal prosecutor unable to? Is this sloppy police work or this an oversight by the Attorney-General’s chambers? In a way, this question is redundant. The fact remains, the prosecutor and legal enforcers actually charged two people under an act that simply did not apply to them. They have handed Mr Ravi a golden opportunity and to his credit Mr Ravi is running with it. The PAP got a nasty shock in the recent General and Presidential elections because the public basically felt that we were paying lots of money for public services that were not up to par. This glaring in Mas Selamat’s stroll from Whitely detention centre. It was glaring when there floods in Orchard Rd. In a way, the government needs to thank Mr Ravi for picking on the act of S377A and turning it into an issue of homosexual rights. This will take away attention from what is a less sexy but in a way more prominent issue – governmental incompetence and the management of it. The government has received its electoral mandate. It has been shown the issues that it needs to confront. It needs to do it instead of trying to obscure things if it wants to retain its commanding presence at the next election.