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HomenewsJohn Tan: SDP not missing in action on Repeal Section 377A issue -...

John Tan: SDP not missing in action on Repeal Section 377A issue – Singapore News

In an interview with The Independent Singapore, he said that one does not need to be part of the LGBT community to understand the rationale and the need to do away with 377A.

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During the recent People’s Action Party conference earlier this month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the opposition has been missing in action when it comes to thorny issues such as the repeal of section 377A which criminalises sex between men.

PM Lee also said that the opposition can’t lie low and disappear if it aims to win more seats in parliament and eventually form the government in Singapore. This statement from PM Lee prompts former Singapore Democratic Party’s vice-chairman John Tan to come out and make a point that his party has not been missing in action on this issue.

As far back as 2007, Tan and his party had been highlighting the need to focus on the colonial-era law, and support the repeal of 377A. “One of SDP’s fundamental tenets is the principle of basic rights and equality for all. It means that if some people are free to engage in certain activities, others must likewise be free to engage in similar activities even if the latter take on different forms or fashions. This principle must be applied in every domain, including that of sexual orientation,” said Tan in an email exchange with a member of the public in 2007, which was posted on SDP’s website.

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In an interview with The Independent Singapore, Tan who was previously the party assistant secretary-general said that one does not need to be part of the LGBT community to understand the rationale and the need to do away with 377A, and we can have differences but one does not have to punish the other for their kind of lifestyle.

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“We call for the repeal not because of what some say due to a gay agenda or promoting a gay lifestyle. I am a heterosexual. If you have a sexy guy walking past me, you can’t trigger anything inside me. How can I be promoting a gay lifestyle when I cannot feel how it is like to be gay. So I am not promoting the lifestyle,” said Tan.

“Just because I am not promoting a gay lifestyle; I don’t have to disagree with them, or I have to criminalise them. I have many religious friends who are against the repeal of section 377A and their reason is that it is sinful. For me, we don’t criminalise people of different faiths. We respect and tolerate them.”

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Tan also gave credit to years of activism from the LGBT community for pushing the boundary, especially through Pink Dot which started in 2009 that shows support for inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom to love in the country.

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“Good thing for the LGTB community is that they voiced their opinion and this is what they get. If they have not been voicing out, probably nobody cares and the law will still be there. It is important for activists, be they LGBT or any other activist, to voice out their opinion so that the government of the day can pay attention to your issue. They may not agree with you, but at the end of the day we force them to listen and think hard about these issues that are brought up by the activist,” shared Tan, who is currently retired from active politics.

In October Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam introduced a law in Parliament which will repeal Section 377A which criminalises sex between men, while a constitutional amendment to protect the current definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman was tabled by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli.

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The two readings of the Bills will be debated when Parliament convene on 28 Nov, with a simple majority required to repeal the law, and two-thirds of the MP’s support needed to amend the constitution.

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