Isn’t Section 377A intolerant?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament in 2007 that Section 377A is “symbolic” and “will not be proactively enforced”. While some may find it contradicting to retain a law that is overtly unenforced, this actually reflects tolerance.

Tolerance isn’t agreement (see Q31), nor is it an acceptance of all viewpoints. Instead, tolerance means that though one disagrees with the other’s viewpoint, he still respects the other person and the other’s right to disagree with him and believe something different 1.

Section 377A’s retention as a symbolic gesture reflects the moral stance of most Singaporeans that disagrees with the homosexual life2. Yet, the declaration that it “will not be proactively enforced” reflects how although the government (and most Singaporeans) would disagree with the lifestyle, it makes no active persecution of the person. In other words, this is to disagree with the viewpoint, but to respect the person. It is the stance, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, to “live and let live”. That is in fact tolerance.


1. I on Singapore, Tolerance and “Tolerance”: Two Versions of Tolerance (I on Singapore, 15 January 2013)
2. Amir Hussain, Liberal Attitudes on Gay Lifestyles Not Prevalent Here (TodayOnline, 26 Aug 2013)