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Cheering bigotry in the House

By Andrew Loh When a hate speech is delivered in the august chambers of Parliament, you know something is not quite right. Yet it did happen. In Singapore. In 2007, during the debate on the issue of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to that debate recently. So did justice Quentin Loh. Let’s revisit that debate. Law professor Thio Li Ann, then a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), made an admittedly passionate speech against repealing that section in our law books. Unfortunately, Thio did so by also taking “tasteless digs at homosexual sex”, as academic Dr Cherian George put it. “Thio also did a disservice to the majority of God-fearing Singaporeans – we who would like to believe that our faiths are ultimately about compassion, not the hateful, hurtful cheap shots that Thio felt compelled to deliver on our behalf,” Dr George said. “How I wished a theology professor or other religious scholar would have stepped into the debate at that point, to show how it might be possible to express a faith-based objection to homosexuality – minus the hate speech.” What disturbed this writer was not the hate-filled content of Prof Thio’s speech,…