Love should never be criminal: Jamus Lim on why he supported 377A repeal – Singapore News
SINGAPORE: On Thursday (Feb 2), Jamus Lim posted on social media explaining why he voted for the repeal of Section 377A, writing “Love should never be criminal.”
The Singapore Parliament voted last November to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalises gay sex between men. The opposition Workers’ Party did not vote uniformly on the issue, with party chief Pritam Singh saying that each MP was allowed to vote according to their conscience.
But the Workers’ Party Member of Parliament and Associate Professor acknowledged that others, including individuals he represents, may not share his view on gay marriage.
Moreover, he touched on the vote in Parliament on the day of the repeal, to endorse amendments to the Constitution to protect the current definition of marriage from legal challenge.
Assoc Prof Lim wrote that his support for both the repeal and amendment “reflects two distinct identities I carry as an MP: representative and policymaker.”
For him, the repeal itself was “almost a no-brainer” as he is opposed to all forms of discrimination, and Section 377A had been discriminatory.
He added that “love should never be criminal,” and explained that his reason for this is very personal.
“As a mixed-‘race’ couple from different countries—who are parents to a mixed ‘race’ child—I am uncomfortable with rigidity in sociocultural constructs such as race, gender, language, and even religion.”
Assoc Prof Lim is married to Ms Eneida Patricia Alcalde, a Chilean-American writer, with whom he shares a three-year-old daughter.
He also wrote, however, that he has observed based on feedback from constituents of Sengkang GRC that some people in Singapore are “less relaxed” about gay marriage.
“Most also stressed the importance they placed on traditional notions of marriage: not just that it be between man & woman, but also the sort of values such families espouse: fidelity in marriage, respect for elders, faith in religion, and care for the community.”
He added that as a representative in Parliament, regardless of his own personal views, he “cannot conscionably ignore how a large majority of my constituents feel about what marriage should be.”
Assoc Prof Lim also wrote that taken to its logical conclusion, all MPs should do the same, as this is how public policy is derived.
“I agree with PM Lee that the right forum for such choices should be Parliament, not so much the courts. In the final analysis, it comes down to a balance: between individual rights, and majority preferences. There isn’t a perfect political system to guarantee that, but democratic republics try.”
He also wrote, “while we can justify including marriage as an institution, the definition of what marriage entails should adjust to contemporary norms. That’s why we can’t hard-code marriage as male-female within it. The repeal of 377A was a nod toward preserving the liberty of individuals not be be jailed for who they choose to love, while including marriage in the constitution affirms the desires of the majority. Both are consistent with policy in a democratic republic.”
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