Sep 20, 2007

Why Homosexuality Should Be Decriminalised in Singapore

In the Straits Times today, we have an article providing strong, clear evidence that homosexuality should be decriminalized in Singapore:

ST Sep 20, 2007
7 in 10 frown on homosexuality, NTU survey finds
People most likely to be anti-gay: The religious and those who conform to social norms
By Radha Basu

SEVEN in 10 people here frown on homosexuality, a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) study has found.

The study - which its authors claim is the first 'nationally representative' survey of its kind here - found two key predictors of sentiments here: how deeply religious a person was and how far he or she conformed to social norms.

The study by NTU's School of Communication and Information was published recently in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, which maps public opinion worldwide.

To gather the data, more than 1,000 people, profiled to resemble the national population, were asked six questions to gauge their attitudes towards lesbians and homosexuals.

For example, they were asked whether sex between two men or two women was 'plain wrong' and whether homosexuals or lesbians were 'disgusting'.

It was found that 68.6per cent of respondents 'generally held negative attitudes', 22.9per cent had positive attitudes and 8.5per cent were neutral.

Besides answering the questions, participants had to give their age, income, education level, gender and marital status. They also had to answer questions designed to gauge how religious they were and how strongly they felt about conforming to social norms.

Through statistical calculations, the study concluded that 'intrinsic religiosity' - viewing religion as the primary driving force in life - was the strongest predictor of anti-gay sentiment here.

On average, Christians and Muslims were seen to hold 'significantly more negative attitudes' than Buddhists or freethinkers.

You might not immediately see what I mean. Let me explain.

Suppose you conducted a survey among Singaporeans and asked them if they disapproved of murder. You would certainly get 10 out of 10 Singaporeans saying that they disapproved of murder.

Suppose you conducted another survey and asked them if they disapproved of shoplifting. Once again you would certainly get 10 out of 10 Singaporeans saying that they disapproved of shoplifting.

And if you did a similar survey on drug trafficking …. child abuse …. drunk driving …. cheating …. corruption …. maid abuse …. robbery …. kidnapping …. illegal possession of firearms … rioting …. voluntarily causing hurt …… driving without a licence …. and most other criminal offences in the laws of Singapore ...

…. you would get 10 out of 10 Singaporeans saying that they disapproved of such acts.

This should surprise no one. In general, crimes are those kinds of activities which are so harmful and serious that society sees fit to set up entire institutions – the police force, the courts, the prisons – to deal with them. Crimes are those kinds of activities which are so serious that we can expect 10 out of 10 citizens, or at least 9 out of 10 citizens to disapprove of them.

The fact that only 7 out of 10 Singaporeans frown on homosexuality probably puts it in the same league as premarital sex. Divorce. Interracial marriages. Opposition politicians. Integrated resorts. And PM Lee’s latest proposed changes to the CPF system.

After all, if you did the various surveys, you’d probably find that around seven out of 10 Singaporeans would frown on premarital sex. Seven out of 10 would frown on divorce. Seven out of 10 would frown on interracial marriages (or Asian women dating white men). Seven out of 10 would vote for the PAP instead of the Opposition. Seven out of 10 would disapprove of the integrated resorts. Seven out of 10 would disapprove of PM Lee’s proposed changes to the CPF system.

However, it is not a crime to have premarital sex. It is not a crime to get divorced. It is not a crime to marry a person of another race. It is not a crime to be an Opposition politician. The integrated resorts are still getting built. And PM Lee certainly won’t be arrested for proposing that all CPF members buy annuities.

So why should Section 377 of the Penal Code threaten gays with life imprisonment?

38 comments:

fudgy said...

IMHO, the survey results should not be linked to whether or not 377 should stay. The survey question did NOT ask if homosexuality was so "plain wrong" and "disgusting" that it deserved to be dealt a life prison sentence, or be fined (esp since Singapore is such a fine city), or otherwise.

There is a huge gap between having a negative attitude towards an act (which includes the 7 who were just disgusted) and deciding that the act needs to be punished by law. E.g. Try a survey of attitudes towards those whose phones ring in a movie theatre... are all these disgusting nuisance threatened with jail?

I wonder what the survey report actually stated compared with how the survey result was reported in ST. One can't help but wonder about the influence behind the choice of words.

khirsah said...

I'm skeptical more towards the way the survey is conducted base on the news reports. A badly developed survey would influence how a person might respond or the participants general attitude towards the topic.

"...they were asked whether sex between two men or two women was 'plain wrong' and whether homosexuals or lesbians were 'disgusting'..."

The choice of words "plain wrong" and "disgusting" could probably insinuate that sex between same gender is wrong in the first place, we just wanna see how much you agree with this statement?!?!

Also, I'm not sure how much can be achieved with just 6 questions.

Any idea where can we get the full details of the survey, including how was it conducted?

I must be stupid said...

Brilliant analysis Mr Wang! Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I suppose if people like CSJ, LTK, CST, etc. are caught having unnatural sex with another man, then maybe such laws may be used to fix them up as what our neighbouring country's ex-PM did to his DPM.

There again, there has to be a specific use for such laws. Remember - the job of thinking of how to fix the political opponents would be made much easier with such handy laws around.

How can we have a law if you don't intend to prosecute anyone with it ? Only a moron will believe such reasoning.

Anonymous said...

I have one comment. The penal code criminalises sex between men, but not between women? Why only only gay sex, but not lesbian sex?

Mr Darren said...

It is a crime for the passengers and driver of a motor vehicle to not wear a seat belt.

Is it true that at least 9 out of 10 Singaporeans frown on the passengers and the driver not wearing seat belts?

Someone else can probably think of another existing criminal law that has less than the threshold "9 out of 10" support.

kitsura said...

I think in a secular country we shouldn't mix morals with legislation. What next? Criminalise public display of affections?

Hong.yi.Lee aka Horny Li said...

well, the ruling elitist usually do not exhibit much sound logic that can be used to improve the society.

their game is always to confuse (throw a smokescreen) and to use (probably 'tinkered' by the horny.lee.crony) statistics to muddle the ordinary Singaporean's mind.

The 377A is their biblical code. thy shall not penetrate ass, when I can only remember that's what the crony has been doing to the poor and unemployed since election 2006.

Gerald said...

Maybe we should do a poll on the CPF annuity. For all you know, we might get MORE than 7 in 10, and throw PM Lee in jail for life. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is a dumb and pathetic attempt to draw parallels that do not exist.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Really? Then you should go and tell that to PAP MP Sin Boon Ann and the National Council of Christian Churches. If you read the full ST article, you'll see that they attempted to use the approval/disapproval level of homosexuality, to argue for its continued criminalisation.

Denzuko1 said...

I am more interested to see how many of these 1,000 people would get aroused when they watch a porn on homosexuality intercourse (either male-male or female-female ). I am sure the statistic will be higher than 7/10.

NTUconfused said...

Turns out that the survey (available here at http://www.mit.edu/%7Emaiyifan/ntusurvey.pdf)
relates only to gays on film.

The authors concede that there is at best only a loose connection between watching gays on screen to Singaporean attitudes toward lesbians and gay men in real life.

IMHO, asserting that this survey supports the case of not repealing s377A is like citing restaurant reviews to outlaw the public consumption of pork.

Anonymous said...

Hi.. the situations compared are different. This argument is not persuasive at all.

Classic case of FALSE ANALOGY here.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Really? You think that the situations compared are different?

Tell you what, then. Section 377 is a sexual offence under the Penal Code. Go do a survey of what singaporeans think of other sexual offences, such as rape or outrage of modesty (molest) etc. See whether you get 10 out of 10 singaporeans disapproving of rape/molest, or only 7 out of 10.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Really? You think that the situations compared are different?

Tell you what, then. Section 377 is a sexual offence under the Penal Code. Go do a survey of what singaporeans think of other sexual offences, such as rape or outrage of modesty (molest) etc. See whether you get 10 out of 10 singaporeans disapproving of rape/molest, or only 7 out of 10.

Pat said...

The monotheistic religions had been a useful vehicle for a government to maintain law and order in a society. But history showed and continues to show - that useful they might had been, we have come to a time to separate government from religion. We no longer need religion to tell us murder, stealing, adultery and rapes are condemnable acts – not because God forbid them but because they hurt someone.

That homosexual acts are punishable by law is one of the last senseless remnants left behind in the process of separating the two entities. It should be removed. We shouldn’t keep the law just because some major religious group says it’s evil - if those people end up in hell after life for having a hell of a time having gay sex, then so be it, it is none of the god damned business of the religious.

James Chia said...

There's always a way to structure a survey to the results you wanna achieve.

Anonymous said...

which is more perverse and crimimal?

screw a shithole and live with the shit

or prematurely screw a passageway where life proceed and have that life terminated or aborted and the whole process may even be repeated?

quzy said...

Mr DARREN,

Not wearing a seat belt is NOT a CRIME. It is only an OFFENCE.

Anonymous said...

i cant believe that there's still a debate abt this in the year 2007. *bleeping* get over it ppl.
Get OVER IT.
Institutions of higher learning are pulling out, rejecting the idea of setting up campuses. Your archaic, 15th century mindset is turning ppl off. Arent you embarrassed? Perhaps the only way ppl will change their mindset is when they figure out that discriminating agst gay ppl are going to hurt the economy or their wallets somehow. Dont laugh asshats, if you want to be some kinda entertainment centre of asia and word gets around that gays arent exactly tolerated...

BACTS said...

If the survey result is somewhat associated with "plain wrong, disgusting or anti-gay." 7 out of 10 simply show that many seems to know too little about these group of people

miak said...

when you frame a question, you affect the thoughts of the respondent.

let's say you asked whether sex between two men or two women was 'plain wrong', and you followed with another question - whether homosexuals or lesbians were 'disgusting', how did you frame the second question?

let me put another way, in another scenario if i asked whether homosexuals are humans with emotions, feelings, and i followed it with the question whether homosexuals or lesbians were 'disgusting', what kind of thoughts will go through the respondent's mind?

in the first scenario, it is likely that the second question would be linked to sex between two men or two women. the word 'disgusting' is used as a trigger to cause the respondent to link back to the idea of sex between two men or two women. this would result in a strong reaction - in this case aversion and revulsion.

in the second scenario, there was no mention of sex between two men or two women, so the word 'disgusting' may not trigger ideas of sex. instead, i have put the idea that homosexuals are human beings, with emotions and feelings like anyone else in the respondent's mind. i have planted the idea that the respondent has something in common with homosexuals. the word 'disgusting' is less likely to evoke a strong reaction like in the first scenario.

i am very disappointed at the methodology employed.

BACTS said...

I agreed with miak, but the people structuring the survey should be capable of understanding this logic. I am skeptical about the intention of the whole exercise.

Thought Provoker said...

As usual, a vague platform is used to substantiate right wing propaganda. Actually, there are many academics that are doing active research in areas that are considered '7/10 frowned upon..' themselves.

These surveys hardly see the light of day in the mainstream media and are instead carefully stored away in some obscure part of the institution's library (I once tried to get a copy of Gomez's thesis, so I know this for a fact).

Well, the pre-independence group of absolutely blind supporters is getting smaller and smaller and I would like to see how long this sort of creative bullshit can carry on.

It's a matter of time before such horrendous reports (and reporters) are white-washed by readers for such slipshod work.

Till then, we just have to do our own sleuthing to verify ST reports...

Anonymous said...

Thought provoker, the "pre-independence group of absolutely blind supporters" maybe getting less in number but at the same time you are getting young blind dogs being co-opted into the PAP system all the time. This is the renewal process, with lots of "monetary incentives" thrown in of course.

mr.udders said...

From the report, "Although education and age did not predict attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, our study found that people who are more highly educated or younger are more tolerant toward media portrayals of homosexuality."

Something to ponder on: can I propose that the 70% who disagree have some sort of correlation with the proportion of people in Singapore who have some form of tertiary education?

Anonymous said...

A theory:
Gay couples do not produce kids. Therefore church against.
Importance:
Kids grow up to peasant who will fight for their King who really doesn't care who died for them.
Remember a certain Miss Wee.
Conclusion:
Overpopulation is the mainstay now.Gay and lesbian might be natures way of solving the problem.

Anonymous said...

For those of you concerned about the validity of the measures used in the study, have a look here: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/atlg.html
As Mr. Wang points out, there is still the question of how appropriate the measures are in the Singapore context where homosexual sex is criminalized, but the measures themselves are not inherently biased or bad.

pennythots said...

This is mental sleight of hand.

The survey only purports to summarise the opinions held by those interviewed towards homosexuality and homosexual acts.

It says nothing about S377A.

To say that because the survey shows only 7 in 10 disapprove of an act (i.e. 3 in 10 approve of it), and THEREFORE the act should be decriminalised, jumps many many logical steps. The survey appears not to be concerned with the criminalisation or decriminalisation of homosexual acts, but merely the attitude of the respondents to the acts.

The last sentence on life imprisonment being too harsh, is nothing more than opinion, and is unsubstantiated by any part of the rest of the article. It is pure rhetoric which is there to spin support for the unsupported header.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Nonsense. I specifically mentioned this survey, in relation to the decriminalisation of homosexuality ....

BECAUSE ...

in this very same ST article, we had a PAP Member of Parliament, AND the National Council of Churches,

mentioning this survey, in relation to the criminalisation of homosexuality:

" ..... The survey results did not surprise MP Sin Boon Ann, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

On granting more rights to homosexuals, he said: 'We are a conservative society and will not be trailblazers in this regard.'

He added that Singapore's public stand on the issue, including the recent move to continue regarding male homosexual sex as an offence, was a 'statement of values' rather than a 'statement of rights and obligations'.

The National Council of Churches here agreed, saying that the study confirmed Singapore society's inclination to 'uphold traditional and pro-family values'.

People's attitudes towards homosexuality here, said the council's general secretary Lim K Tham, may have been shaped by 'an upbringing influenced by religion and government policies that were family-centric'."

Mr Wang Says So said...

And I still remember you, Pennythots. Aren't you the same chap who previously said that you support life imprisonment for gays, because they disgust you?

Anonymous said...

The following is a hypothetical example of how survey results can be skewed if the questions are properly phrased towards a particular line of questioning.

Supposedly I want to carry out a survey of whether a country's Judiciary is independent or compliant to the Executive Government.

1) First, I will state that the Malaysian Judiciary is now in serious deep shit because of an explosive video which shows senior lawyer VK Lingam in a phone conversation, purportedly with current Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, allegedly fixing the appointment of ‘friendly’ senior judges.

Supposedly I request the interviewee first to judge for himself/herself whether the video, which can be viewed thro' Youtube, is authentic.

After viewing the video, I will then ask whether he/she thinks that the Malaysian Judiciary is independent or compliant to the Executive after seeing the video.

Do you think I can get at least a 7 out of 10 ?

2) Supposedly I go on to mention that a particular government has NEVER lost any of its litication suits brought against any of its political opponents.

And supposedly I raise this question as to whether the Judiciary of this particular Government is really independent of the Executive ?

Do you think I can get a 'Yes' or 'No' for an answer ? If your own answer to this hypothetical anwer is a definite 'No', that would answer the question, isn't it.

So how these results be trusted ?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Links:

Of Surveys, Conservatives & Foreigners - by MG.

The Hypocrisy, Stupidity and Ignorance Involved in Section 377A - By I Must Be Stupid.

Homosexuality and the Straits Times - By Disjecta.

WTF!?!?!?!?!?? Our ST Does It Again - By Miak.

The Disapproving 70 Per Cent - Teh Si.

Why Frown?.

Anonymous said...

Christianity is not a major religion in Singapore. In fact, 50 percent of Singaporeans are buddhist or taoist. So I do not know why are the churches the one to represent Singapore moral standards. BTW, Singapore is a multi-religion society. No one religion should dominate the values of the people in Singapore. And for your info, Buddhism has never stated to be against homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

btw, the above comments about religion is not for u, Mr Wang. it is for the general christian bigots who is so high and almighty about their values.

U can dont approve this comment.

Anonymous said...

Now who exactly are you guys wagging a finger at? The survey or the Christians?

We can see yr bias here.
It's not good for a discussion to be rational & balanced.
Thanks. :-)

ryisse said...

Mr Wang, I am not sure if new comments get emailed to you, but there is an online petition to repeal section 377A now. It's here http://www.repeal377a.com/letter/