The atmosphere was carnival-like, with many decking themselves out in pink, and just generally having a good time.
As I looked around me, it was evident that love transcends gender boundaries and stereotype. There were men holding the hands of other men, as there were too women who did the same, all apparently quite in love with their same-sex partners.
And then you remember the Penal Code, in particular Section 377A which makes it a crime to express your love sexually towards the one you love if he is of the same gender as you. The Code uses words like “gross indecency” and “punished”.
If you are a male and you love another of the same gender as you, you are effectively a criminal.
That’s basically what the Code is saying.
But the Government, facing pressure from both sides of the fence on the issue of homosexuality, has “compromised” on Section 377A by saying that the law will not be enforced.
Of course, this is a ridiculous position to take. It not only makes a mockery of gay people who genuinely love each other, it also mocks the rule of law in our land to have a law which the authorities actually promise not to enforce. I will leave the legal arguments to the lawyers and judges.
The other argument put forth by the Government is that “Singapore is generally still a conservative society and the majority of the people still find homosexual behaviour unacceptable. Hence, the government has chosen to allow section 377A to remain status quo to maintain the country’s social cohesion and let the situation evolve naturally.”
Of course, the obvious question to ask is this: without there ever being a thorough public debate about the matter, how did the Government come to the conclusion that “the majority” of people in Singapore find homosexuality unacceptable? Going by the growing attendance at Pink Dot, there is reason to believe that perhaps our society is not so unaccepting of gay people as the Government might think. Just as an aside, it is also worth noting that this is the same Government which admitted that it had “misinterpreted” feedback it received prior to the General Election last year. So, I am not so sure about its claims to know what the “majority” of Singaporeans feel about homosexuality.
The second question is: even if the majority find it unacceptable, is criminalising it the right thing? Are we going by populist rule, instead of doing what is right which, incidentally, the ruling party has always boasted of doing?
And what is right?
Anyone who has ever attended a Pink Dot event would know what this is. The right to love is a universal one. Gay people should be accorded the same right and recognition. Homosexuality has always been part of the human condition and the human experience, just as heterosexuality has been. A gay person is thus no less part of the human family as any heterosexual person.
Why then is a gay person seen to be somehow less deserving of our acceptance, protection and support than heterosexuals?
And as I watched the people around me at Speakers’ Corner on Saturday, it made me ashamed that my country has actually laid down in law that these people are criminals. I was, in fact, surrounded by so many who would or should, by law, be in prison. I was surrounded by a sea of criminals.
It is nonsensical. It is senseless.
At the same time, however, I was proud of the open celebration of love and identity by those 15,000 people at Hong Lim Park. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be there among them. And, ironically, for all the talk of family values and love and understanding which we heterosexuals like to preach about, it is the gay people who are showing us what these actually mean, in concrete terms, through Pink Dot.
I know it will be a while yet before 377A is removed. In the meantime, I do hope that those with power to make criminals of others for no other reason than that they were born gay, will take the time to engage and know the gay people they so easily demonise and criminalise.
I mean, how many of our lawmakers were at Pink Dot on Saturday?
I saw none.
But they will have to come to terms with the hypocrisy of the legislation which they have installed, and as events like Pink Dot grow even bigger and gain widespread support, Section 377A will eventually be abolished - and that will be a day we can all celebrate indeed.
And the best thing about Pink Dot? To be with the one you love surrounded by people with the ones they love. So, why is their love wrong?
Watch this video of Pink Dot 2012 at Hong Lim Park.
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