Accommodating religious views doesn't undermine state's secular position

While I welcome Professor Tommy Koh's views as part of healthy civil debate in our society, there are several fallacies in his arguments in support of the repeal of Section 377A (Section 377A: Science, religion and the law; Sept 25).

First, Prof Koh uses the argument that biological or genetic factors could explain homosexuality, and that it is a perfectly normal part of human sexuality.

To date, there is no clear scientific proof of this.

Singapore is an independent sovereign nation. It should do what it decides is best for its interests and not blindly follow what is done in the West, or based on certain espoused notions of being "progressive".

Our laws reflect the state of morality in our society.

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans adhere to certain religious beliefs, and these form an integral make-up in their morality and, collectively, the social mores of our nation.

It cannot be ignored that these Singaporeans may make decisions affecting our society based on their personal beliefs, for it is "simply not possible to compartmentalise completely the minds of voters into secular and religious halves and ensure that only the secular mind influences his voting behaviour", as stated in the Maintenance of Religious Harmony White Paper 1989.

Moreover, taking into account religious views, especially for such an important issue, does not undermine our position as a secular state.

Being a secular state does not mean all views based on some form of religion must be ignored but, rather, that the state should not exclusively align its decisions with or against any particular religion.

If one were to go with Prof Koh's logic, then there would be no voice representing the religious in the public square at all. Eventually, only the non-religious minority can participate in the public square and religious people cannot hold office in the civil service.

In fact, a recent Ipsos Public Affairs survey shows that merely 12 per cent of Singaporeans are opposed to Section 377A (55% of S'pore residents still support gay law: Poll; Sept 11).

The petition to keep Section 377A has also garnered about 109,000 signatures, overwhelmingly more than the number of signatures in opposition to the legislation.

Stan Huang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'Accommodating religious views doesn't undermine state's secular position'. Print Edition | Subscribe