The Social Marker No: 377A

The Supreme Court has ruled that Section 377A is not un-constitutional. And as expected, the LGBT community has resoundingly labelled the decision as archaic and running against modern reality where gay equality has been accepted and entrenched in many western countries. What is unexpected however, is the strong support from the mainstream for the decision, if one is to listen to the internet chatter.

But let’s get one thing straight. The Court’s duty is only to interpret the law. It is not within its ambit to formulate the law which falls under the jurisdiction of the legislature.  So any criticism towards the court’s decision is at best irrelevant and borne out of the misunderstanding of governance. And so this is good news for anyone who wants to see 377A amended or removed entirely because it means that the law is not cast in stone. It can be changed via parliament.

Secondly, the law itself is rarely ever being used. And it has never been used to wantonly persecute gays. As proof, there are many openly-gay people in Singapore and they go about their daily lives like ordinary citizens. So 377A can be viewed as a mere social marker to state that Singapore is still by and large a conservative society that sees heterosexual values to be its foundation.

So what’s next for the LGBT community? Seeing that 377A is a social marker, it can be moved or removed altogether. To achieve this will take some panache and patience to convince the mainstream to accept LGBTs into their midst. And hopefully, the day will come when 377A will be abrogated.

But to do so by screaming and shouting murder, will only alienate the mainstream further and make the objective that much more difficult to achieve.


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