I am fast becoming a big fan of J Michael Kirby, judge of the High Court of Australia. In his long article about religious freedom related to the Lina Joy issue [in Malaysia], he makes a passing comment about Ms Thio’s remarks in parliament related to the 377A issue. [I am not posting the relevant except here, go read it yourself. Here’s a clue, Ctrl-F “Dr Thio”]
Actually it is more than passing – he quotes her speech quite a bit, and makes a remark so acid that I have to wonder whether there isn’t a hole burned into the paper.
*bows to His Honour* Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t condone uncivilised behaviour with regards to Thio Li-Ann. If you think she is wrong, then rebut her. Point out her fallacies (it is not that hard, they are glaringly obvious). Don’t send her hate-mail or death threats. That just makes us look very very bad.
And for the record, for those calling for her resignation because of her views, I don’t agree with that either. She has the full right to believe what she wants, and make her views known. As do we all. Unless she is proven to routinely discriminate against queer students or those holding views contrary to her own, and unless she is proven to impose her homophobia into her teaching, her views, extreme as they are, are irrelevant to her profession. I do believe in academic freedom, and the same freedom extended to those like Michael Hor and Victor Ramraj in articulating their views for the repeal, should be extended to her.
Having said that, I do think she owes a courtesy to articulate her views in a respectful manner. And come clean as to her judeo-christian influence, and not hide it behind the veneer of legal philosophy.
Seriously, I do. Right now, I want to have his kids because I want them to inherit his wits and brains [and my good looks… okay, okay, you can stop throwing the rotten tomatoes now].
My father, of all people, pointed out an article he wrote in Insight in today’s Straits Times. He presents a far better rebuttal of Thio than anything I or the other bloggers have written, and way funnier. I don’t agree with him on the gun bit, but the rest of the article is pure gold, in my opinion.
Please send him love-mail.
And guys, I know Thio Li-Ann is everyone’s favourite strawman… er…. strawwoman, but please don’t send her hate-mail. She’s not worth it. It is rather funny, though, how everything Thio does kinda backfires on her, or doesn’t quite have the effect she is hoping for. She complained about the banned pink picnic, and just to spite her, 150 people turned up for the non-existent picnic which would otherwise be attended by a measly 20-30 people. Her hysterical anti-gay stand in parliament, while gaining support among the die-hard conservatives, is alienating the moderate middle [which is the real majority, despite her assertions to the contrary].
I am actually kind of happy she made that speech. Long Live Thio! Please continue doing what you do.
600 plus hits in one day, without even being tomorrowed, thanks to Ms Thio. I had expected maybe a slightly bigger pool than usual, due to the controversial nature. But not this.
The internet surprises me, once in a while.
By the way, there are many other commentaries on this issue out there:
Guys, go ahead and tear Ms Thio’s argument into pieces all you want, or even those of other MPs. But do so in a respectful manner – if you are to resort to name-calling and ad hominem, we are simply affirming what she says.
Dear Ms Thio
I am not as learned as you in law. I am but a first-year law student. A law student who happens to identify as queer, and has spent the last two years working in the queer activism scene, who now loves a woman, who now wishes to rid this country of the blight known as section 377A.
Ms Thio, I am sure you know this section very well… in fact, you dedicated an entire speech to the impassioned defence of it, not even touching on things like marital rape immunity. I am surprised… I thought an educated, feminist woman like yourself would have some feelings on this section which effectively takes away the right of married women to their bodies…. but I digress. You expounded in detail upon the merits of retaining this law. You showed us all how much you hate us gay people – like we couldn’t tell from the letters to ST. When I read your speech, my first impulse was to laugh. Then as I read on, cringing at the leaps of logic, and wincing at the palpable hatred pouring out of the paper.
I will now proceed to rebutt you: point by point.
I wrote this post on Sayoni a long time ago, rebutting the arguments of the other side one by one. I’ve been reading through the IQ-leeching comments on the keep377a website, and I don’t understand how these people can rationally believe family values can be eroded by two men having sex. Is it a zero-sum game? Everytime two people of the same gender have sex, The Great Cosmic Scorekeeper strike off one point for the family value column, and award one point to the gay column, resulting a slow “erosion of values”.
You want to know what does destroy families and tear them apart? Homophobia. Every time a parent rejects his gay child, every time a parent turns his face away when she holds her partner’s hand, every time a gay child emigrates to escape the family’s disapproval and find a better life away from this country. That tears families apart.
I worry about what will happen to my family too, when they eventually find out. I worry that I will have to go to a country far away to avoid hurting my parents, to escape their disapproval. I worry that I will get married without their blessings, or even their knowledge. I worry that no matter how successful I am in later life, whether I fulfill the dreams my father has for me, they will never be able to be proud of me. I worry that my future children will never play at the feet of their grandparents, listen to the grandmother stories, taste my mother’s amazing cooking. I worry they will not let me take care of them later in life, when they are retired.
Because I am their child too, gay or straight.
I was wondering how long it would be before someone started a counter-petition like this.
I haven’t seen a more pathetic petition in my entire life. Seriously, I do acknowledge that other people might have different opinions on this issue, and it is entirely legitimate for them to make their own voices heard. It is a free country after all. Technically.
1. The “Majority”
The argument that it is justifiable to oppress minority groups just because the majority feels that way, is what the entire petition is about. By the same token, just because Chinese people don’t like Indian people, it is entirely justifiable to make racist laws.
2. “Scientific” premise
The much-touted NTU study is what they use to back up the argument that they are indeed the majority. Singaporeans’ Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men and their Tolerance of Media Portrayals of Homosexuality, by Benjamin H. Detenber, Mark Cenite, et. al., International Journal of Public Opinion Research. What these people conveniently ignore is that this study is about media portrayals – not a general attitude. Isn’t the title more than a little self-evident, or did Mr Martin Tan never learn to read? What people will and will not tolerate on screen is hardly an indication of what they will tolerate in real life – people may tolerate extreme violence and murder on screen, but would most ever approve of that in real life?
3. Research section
Consists of grand total of two links, one to the already irrelevant NTU study, and another to an ST article. Any self-respecting anti-gay website should have at least some links to not-that-solid research talking about how mentally unstable and dangerous gay people are. And how they destroy society.
There are numerous multiple signatures on the site. And it is not even a case of occasional double-posting – consistently repetitive names and signatures, in addition to many spam signatures. The number is hardly indicative of the real support for the petition – it is even less credible than the online petition to repeal 377A.
Once again, while I respect free speech, some of the comments leave me confused as to laugh or cry. It is a parade of ignorance, and I honestly feel sorry for these people, going about life with such a myopic view. And once again… I really don’t see how me kissing my girlfriend destroys your family, your “safety”. If anti-gay person could explain that to me, I would be eternally grateful.
And lastly… show some creativity, man. Do you really have to copy the design of the repeal377a.com website?
The earlier petition was a test, and this is the new and confirmed link:
Please spread it around to your friends.
Lee Hsien Loong has spoken, echoing both his predecessors in his views on homosexuality. It is interesting how the Father, the Holy Goh and the Spirit all seem to come down on the same side of the fence, willing to decriminalise but seeming to hold back for the fear of the “conservative majority” [I’ve argued plenty on this conservative majority issue and so have others, so I shall not repeat my arguments here. Go read Yawningbread.org if you really want to know.]
As of this moment, I will not deny that my morale is pretty low. It does not seem likely that the decriminalisation will take place in this penal code review. We neither have the time, nor the political climate, or rather, weather, on our side, given that the second reading is just 1 month away. In the first place, the announcement of the first reading took us by surprise, as it was originally slated to take place next year. By the time we learnt about it, it was too late.
Or was it? We’ve had one year from the time the penal code amendment draft was released. At that time, we tried very enthusiastically within the one month we had to put forward our views. I myself went for the focus group discussion, wrote letters to everywhere I could and all. And much has happened between then and now, from MM Lee’s remarks to Indignation to Otto Fong’s coming out. We’ve had every opportunity to raise and sustain this debate in the public arena, to change people’s minds, to tell our MPs how we really feel.
We have had time. So what has happened, for us to feel we don’t have the time to effect any changes? Firstly, I believe we have been procastinating. We have not acted in a timely manner to strike when the iron was hot. We have been REACTING to events, rather than create them. Obviously, when you operate in a reactionary manner, you will not have time or the resources to mount a suitable campaign.
I got to thinking about why we have been acting this way. I asked myself why I was acting no better, only responding to external stimuli. What was stopping me from going out there and campaigning for this, MM Lee or no MM Lee? The answer was blindingly simple: I was too tied up with my current obligations, with Sayoni, PLUME, (until recently, AFA) and with everything else in my life. Too involved in the day-to-day running and administrative tasks to focus on the 377A issue.
I don’t imagine things are better for other community helpers. The queer activism scene is a fragmented landscape, with each of us tied up with our individual organisations to pay attention to the bigger picture. By writing this, I do not disparage the work done by my peers… they have done so much with so little, they have stood up bravely when much of the gay community prefers to cower. Neither am I implying they have done nothing to push the decriminalisation issue – I’ve seen their efforts and applaud them for it.
But it is not enough. We are trying, but we are too fragmented, too disconnected, too demoralised. We have different visions of how we want to do this, some preferring a softer approach, others wanting to push the envelope. We don’t work well together, quite naturally. We have an advocacy group, PLU, but they, by their own admission, is not a formal institution. They are not exactly ACLU, but an aggregrate of community leaders, who, as I have said earlier, are all engaged with their own organisations and obligations. As a community, our committment to legal rights is seasonal and responsive, when it rightly needs to be perennial.
((Here, I must make an extremely important distinction between the two types of activism as I see it: legal advocacy and community-building. The first focuses on our legal rights, not just decriminalisation at the moment, but in the long-term, marriage rights and so on. Community-building is what most groups engage in, at the moment. These are the groups which offer counselling services, provide discussion platforms, run support groups etc, geared towards helping queer people adjust and find others like them. We have no legal advocacy groups to speak of, with the possible exception of PLU.))
At the same time, we have individuals who are eager to help, who genuinely want to do something about the legal issue, but do not belong to any recognised queer groups. Their options are extremely limited, if not non-existent: PLU does not accord them a place, not being community leaders, and other queer groups, being community-builders, do not give them any opportunity for legal advocacy. Some of these people are straight, and are extremely passionate about the issue, but see absolutely no avenue for them to help.
Synthesising these two issues, it is easy to see why we are so disorganised, so non-functional. We cannot keep reacting to situations, trying to spread awareness of the issue only when it is raised by someone else. There needs to be a body of people whose sole objective and obligation is to tend to the legal issue, who can be counted on to keep up a constant campaign on the issue, whether or not events happen that spark debate. Very importantly, these people cannot be tied down by obligations to other groups – though it would be highly helpful for current community leaders to maintain close ties with this group, providing it support. We have a huge advantage compared to other countries, due to our small size – it is not difficult to reach each other and coordinate.
I am putting forth this idea now, hoping that some people will read it, maybe debate about it and hopefully try to make it work. It can be a GSA of some sorts, only on a national level. (Please, for goodness’ sake, stop excluding straight folk. They are valuable allies.) Never before have I commented on the state of the activism scene in Singapore, preferring to hold my tongue in order to avoid stepping on toes. I give my honest assessment knowing that I’ll inevitably be flamed, but that is a small suffering to bear, if fruits do eventually bear out of this.
To end with an extremely cliche quote, but one that has been proven time and again: United we stand, Divided we fall.
And I, would much prefer to stand.