Section 377A: A contemporary, important law

The annual Pink Dot event has been organised to celebrate inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love regardless of one's sexual orientation. The writer says there are numerous types of sexual orientations but whether all are equally deserving o
The annual Pink Dot event has been organised to celebrate inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love regardless of one's sexual orientation. The writer says there are numerous types of sexual orientations but whether all are equally deserving of social approval is an important policy question.ST FILE PHOTO

The law criminalising sex between men draws a clear line that homosexual acts are not on a par with heterosexual ones. Remove that, and traditional marriage and family norms - and one day, even freedom of religion to object to homosexuality - will come under threat.

Former attorney-general V. K. Rajah's article Section 377A: An Impotent Anachronism (Sept 30, The Sunday Times) contains some contestable statements, while raising interesting constitutional issues about the separation of powers and the court's role in addressing politicised, morally controversial questions.

My argument here is that section 377A of the Penal Code prohibiting sex between men is a law of contemporary relevance and substantive importance. It goes beyond mere symbolism or placating religious views. The policy that section 377A will not be proactively enforced departs from the prior policy of pro-actively raiding gay groups. It falls within the executive's discretion to determine what resources to commit to enforcing various offences.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'Section 377A: A contemporary, important law'. Print Edition | Subscribe