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Wikileaks Usembassy Report Of The Singapore 2007 Section 377A Repeal


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#1 HendryTan

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:22 PM

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

#2 jayy

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:58 PM

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?
I got my fist, I got my plan, I got survivalism.

#3 Clickclock

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:52 PM

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

Posted Image

visit my erotic art blog! www.toastwire.blogspot.com 


#4 suckling_pig

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 09:50 AM

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

Posted Image


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.
We see things not as they are, but as WE are - The Talmud
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear - The Buddha

#5 cmpb

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 11:57 PM

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


can't help but love the pic :P

#6 Clickclock

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 11:58 PM

thanks =)

visit my erotic art blog! www.toastwire.blogspot.com 


#7 gstc82

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 12:50 AM

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

#8 orca888

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 09:46 AM

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

Posted Image


A picture tells a thousand words - well done...even though it is a bit sad
Am I falling for a bi?

#9 suckling_pig

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 10:11 AM

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
We see things not as they are, but as WE are - The Talmud
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear - The Buddha



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