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SINGAPORE - Jan 24, 2004

Singapore gay group sends open letter to Parliament: All oral sex should be decriminalised

In November 2003, a police officer, Anis Abdullah, wasconvicted under Section 377 of Singapore's Penal Code,for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".Anis was found guilty of having received fellatio froma girl whom he had dated.

Following his conviction, there was an outcry from thegeneral public who were surprised that oral sex wasstill a criminal offence in Singapore. On 6 January2004, the government said in Parliament that the lawon oral sex was under review, with the likely prospectthat consensual oral sex between adult male andfemale heterosexuals would be decriminalized.

On 21 January 2004, People Like Us sent an open letterto all 94 Members of Parliament. The text of the openletter is as follows:

"It is likely that a bill amending the Penal Codesection pertaining to oral sex will be presented soonto Parliament for your approval. Based on what hasbeen mentioned in the recent sitting of Parliament, itis likely that the bill will leave oral sex betweentwo persons of the same sex as a criminal offence.

"You will hear from other forums all the reasons whythis would be bad law, chiefly because it would bediscriminatory.

"This is not just an academic question, since by thelaw of probability, some Members of Parliament willhave gay sons or lesbian daughters.

"With 94 MPs, assuming 2 offspring per MP on average,there may be around 190 sons and daughters. Even usingthe lowest incidence of homosexuality, about 2% of thepopulation -- a figure that the homophobic lobbyprefers to use -- there are likely to be 4 gay orlesbian sons or daughters among them. Using anincidence estimate that most researchers accept as areasonable ballpark figure, 6%, there are likely tobe 11 or 12 gay/lesbian offspring among the 190.

"We don't even need to use the 10% incidence rate thatsome researchers have found. We don't need to includenephews, nieces or grandchildren whom you may dearlylove.

"Chances are that, as a parent, you don't know whetheryour child is gay or not. Often, we hear that theparents are the last to know - which tells you a lotabout the degree of discrimination gay people face andthe extent of cover-up they must construct.

"At some point, you will have to tell your gay childrenthat they are criminals in Singapore through no faultof their own.

"The only way they would not be criminals would be ifthey never ever became intimate with anyone they fellin love with, abandoning any prospect of a fulfillingpersonal life. Alternatively, they would have toemigrate from Singapore.

"Or you could be a strict parent and insist that theykeep up appearances at all cost. Your daughter mustget married, even if her heart feels nothing for anyman. Once married, she must allow herself to berepeatedly raped by someone she does not love -- herhusband. All in the name of the norms thatheterosexist laws enshrine.

"This doesn't apply to me or my family -- we are allapt to say. We know our children are not gay --parents are apt to say. But the law of probabilitytells us some of you are going to be proven wrong.

"Supporting the continued criminalisation of homosexualsex between consenting adults is a violation of yourlove for your own children."

The authors of the letter, People Like Us, are a Singaporean gay advocacy group established in 1993, but which the government still refuses to officially recognise.

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