AGC urges public against commenting on Section 377A

[UPDATE: 23 Jan, 109AM: The Attorney-General's Chambers has urged the public to refrain from making any comments on the upcoming appeal of Section 377A. In a statement to media, it said it takes a serious view on "statements [that] are calculated to affect the minds of the courts hearing the case, the minds of parties who are concerned in the case itself, or if they amount to public pre-judgment of the case."]

Singapore actor Lim Yu Beng has joined the growing chorus of netizens condemning recent pleas by two church pastors against the repeal of Section 377A in Singapore.

"To put it simply, Pastor Khong wants it illegal to be homosexual in Singapore. My point is this. Nobody is making it compulsory for him to be gay. Why should he make it compulsory for others to be straight?," he said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

The respected veteran stage and film actor said he was not questioning the Pastor's beliefs but rather "his right to impose those interpretations on others through legislation".

Lim's comments come amid a growing and bitter debate in the past week over Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong's plea to the government not to overturn Section 377A, which criminalises sex between consenting gay men.

Khong, of Faith Community Baptist Church, called the repeal of the statute "a looming threat to the basic building block (of family) by homosexual activists".

In front of a congregation last weekend that included ESM Goh Chok Tong, who happened to be passing by the church during his regular Marine Parade walkabout, Khong urged the government to provide "moral leadership" and to "protect constitutional rights to free speech and religious liberty"

Another more strident Facebook post by Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church  came out on Saturday in support of Pastor Khong. In it, he called for the church to "get herself into battle-footing, and be battle-ready."

"This war is winnable and the church will arise 
victorious... Be ready for a sharp polarising of our society over the gay and lesbian issue and when it happens, you better make sure you know which side you are on," he added.

Thaddaeus Wee, who studies postgraduate law at Singapore Management University is among those who took issue with Pastor Khong's "questionable statements".

Similar to how adultery or single mothers or childless married couples went against the idea of a "traditional" family unit, he asked in a Facebook post why gay relationships were deserving of any special attention.

Gay pastor Reverend Miak Siew, executive pastor of Singapore's Free Community Church, also said in a Facebook post Pastor Khong's statements only served to stigmatise the gay and lesbian community.

"The repeal of 377A poses no threat to families bound together by love... you have placed obstacles in how parents understand their children who are different, and create huge rifts in these families," he said.

Heated debate since 2007

A heated debate on the issue began in 2007, when then Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong filed a petition to repeal Section 377A, which he cited as discriminatory and a violation of constitutional safeguards on equal rights.

However, then-Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee shot down the petition, highlighting that Singapore is a conservative society and “majority of [Singaporeans may] find homosexual behaviour offensive and unacceptable”.

“While homosexuals have a place in society… repealing Section 377A will be contentious and may send a wrong signal that the government is encouraging and endorsing the homosexual lifestyle as part of our mainstream way of life,” an AFP report quoted Ho as saying at the time.

An appeal to challenge Section 377A will be heard in court on February 14 and was filed after two men who have been partners for 15 years said the law entrenches “stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people in society”.

A second and separate appeal has also been filed by a man who was arrested in March 2010 for having oral sex with another man at a public toilet in CityLink Mall.

Related stories:

Couple files challenge to S'pore law criminalising gay sex
Singapore court okays challenge against anti-gay law
'Political courage needed on issue of gay rights'
Should Singapore repeal Section 377A?
Peek into Singapore' gay club scene

Club Taboo turns 15