The Singapore LGBT encyclopaedia Wiki
Advertisement
SDPLogo001


The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) supports LGBT equality in Singapore and is against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. It also supports the repeal of Section 377A, making its position clear on the "What We Stand For" section of its website since 2007[1],[2]:

“As a nation, we must not only show tolerance but also acceptance of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion. Discrimination of our fellow human beings has been one human frailty that has wreaked much destruction and misery.”

(Unfortunately, the content on the page was removed after the party's poor performance in the 2015 Singapore General Elections. However, the statement can still be found on the SDP website in a short article penned by Gandhi Ambalam, former Chairman of the SDP[3]).

Despite the party's commitment to equal rights for the LGBT community, one of its Malay-Muslim candidates who ran in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC during the 2015 General Elections, Damanhuri Abas, thinks that Section 377A should not be repealed.

Current SDP politicians

For LGBT equality

Chee Soon Juan

Main article: Chee Soon Juan's views on homosexuality

Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, has accepted Singapore's pioneering LGBT advocacy group People Like Us' (PLU) invitation to several IndigNation events where he has spoken up for LGBT rights. He has also attended Pink Dot SG with his wife and children.

2006

During the IndigNation 2006 event entitled, 'The 2006 General Election and the Gay Issue' held at Theatreworks' 72-13 along Mohamed Sultan Road on 1 August 2006 at 7:30pm, Chee made the following speech in support of LGBT equality[4]:


In response to a joint letter signed by 7 members of the LGBT community several months before the 2011 General Elections querying Singapore's political parties' views on various issues of concern to the community (see main article: Singapore political parties’ positions on LGBT concerns – General election 2011), Chee sent an e-mail reply on 2 November 2010:

"Rather than respond to the questionnaire, the Singapore Democratic Party would like to reiterate its stand:

We support the repeal of Section 377A. We made our stand clear in 2007 here [5] and defended it here [6]. We have embedded in our website the following statement: “As a nation, we must not only show tolerance but also acceptance of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion.” (see here [7]).

Thank you.

Chee Soon Juan

Secretary-General

Singapore Democratic Party"

2011

Chee also made a speech in support of fellow SDP candidate, Vincent Wijeysingha, during the 2011 General Elections, saying that his party does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation[8] (see main article: Vivian Balakrishnan attacks Vincent Wijeysingha for having alleged gay agenda during 2011 General Elections):


That year, Chee and his family attended Pink Dot 2011 at Hong Lim Park. (Photo source: [9])

px


2020

On Wednesday, 8 July 2020, one day before Cooling-off Day during the 2020 General Elections, social media celebrity Preetipls interviewed Chee regarding his life and views. His response to her question about when Singapore would be ready to repeal Section 377A was that the issue was a divisive one and that the people would have to decide[10].


Transcript:

Preeti: So, I have many fans from the LGBTQ+ community and I'm really sure they will want me to ask you, "When do you think Singapore will finally be able to repeal 377A?".

Chee: You know, I think this is something that the people will have to answer. Right now, I'll be very honest with you, it's still a very divisive situation. The time when the society is ready is, I think, for Singaporeans to answer at some point, you know, people will have to decide.

Paul Tambyah

Main article: Paul Tambyah's views on homosexuality

Prof Paul Anantharajah Tambyah is a physician specialising in infectious diseases. He is the chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party. He was also a founding member of MARUAH and a member of Action for AIDS' exco.

On 18 August 2015, sociopolitical news website 'Inconvenient Questions' interviewed Prof Paul Anantharajah Tambyah, an infectious disease physician, chairman and first-time candidate under the SDP for the 2011 General Elections, regarding his views on Section 377A amongst other issues. Prof Tambyah was firmly in support of repealing 377A[11].


Transcript:

"In terms of 377A, the SDP has been very clear about this - that 377A should be repealed. And again, this is in line with the idea that there should be equality for all Singaporeans. We also don't believe that it makes sense to keep a law on the books if you have decided you are not going to enforce the law. So there has to be consistency in order for rule of law to be practised in Singapore."

John Tan

JohnTanSDP001

John Tan is the Assistant Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party.

On 23 October 2007, Tan published the following correspondence between himself and a citizen with the initials SYM on the SDP website[12]:

Why the SDP supports repealing Section 377A

Some people have asked us why we support the campaign to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality. The exchange of emails between our John Tan and SYM below, in particular our second letter, sums up our position.

Dear SDP,

I am wondering why do the party wanted to support the repeal section 377A when is wanted to win the Singapore people’s heart…I wanted to bring up my kids in a pro- family environment. I cannot comprehend when my kids asked my why the 2 men sitting opposite us are kissing in public?

SDP failed to realised that once the gay activists got their way, that means its freedom for them to express their sexual orientation. I do not have to have a PhD to know that it’s against the acts of nature.

I had been a regular swimmers to public swimming pools and never failed to spot a few weirdo lurking around the cubicles and soaping themselves facing the open cubicle door, occasionally looking at the males who were their. What are these guys up to?

These people cannot impose their sexual orientation to us that its is right. In nature, its is one way out for the faeces from the anus. And attempt to enter it will caused pains and skin breakages. That is why gays use relaxers in the anus to “enhance” their sexual life...

I am not against homosexuals but is against the act of it and its against my religious belief too. I also have a uncle who is homosexual and i do not have ill feeling against him. Just that we accepted that he is what he is. But I do not want my kids to think its normal to be gay.

SYM

PS. I am not pro PAP.

Dear SYM,

Thank you for writing us. One of SDP’s fundamental tenets is the principle of basic rights and equality for all. It means that if some people are free to engage in certain activities, others must likewise be free to engage in similar activities even if the latter take on different forms or fashions. This principle must be applied in every domain, including that of sexual orientation. Since you are a religious person, allow me to use religion as an example. In many religions, devotees or believers typically view that it is against one’s religious belief to exercise faith in a different religion other than one’s own. Yet, very few people would advocate a law that prohibits the practice religions they do not subscribe to. You also argued that homosexuality is “unnatural”. Although monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism view the worship of snakes and cows as ridiculous and unnatural, non of them would call for a law that punishes the practice of Hinduism–at least not in a democratic society. I hope I have answered your question. Otherwise, feel free to write again. JOHN TAN Assistant Secretary-General Singapore Democratic Party Dear SDP, You had failed to answer my question as why SDP have to take this matter politically. SDP should try to win the majority and THIS IS the irony of politics. No point curry the special interest group of people who could not form enough people to vote for you.

PAP or even Workers’ Party is wise in this matter by sticking to the majority as these people bring in the votes and we are mostly Asian in your values. WP’s had changed its style of confronting the government and during the last election, WP had proven their tactics works while SDP performed it worst...

When is SDP going to change it ways to deal with the electorate since it had banged and bloodied its head on the fortress of the PAP government countless times?

SYM

Dear SYM,

The “irony of politics” as you describe is one of total pragmatism. One that holds neither ideology nor principles save that which benefits the party.

Such extreme pragmatism is propagated by Lee Kuan Yew and has unfortunately taken hold in the psyche of many Singaporeans.

The SDP, on the other hand, while trying to be as practical as we can at some level, must constantly be guided by our foundational tenets. When we say equality for all, we mean equality for all.

There was once a very wise man, who found that people (about 5 thousand of them) didn’t like his sermon and were leaving him.

Yet he didn’t change his stand for the majority but instead challenged the remaining 12 guys who stayed with him: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” You probably know the innumerous followers this teacher had later. Sometimes, it takes awhile for people to see the value in our principles. But see it they will, someday.

In that respect, we learned a few things from the great sage. We hope you will too.

JOHN TAN

Assistant Secretary-General

Singapore Democratic Party

Dear SDP,

Well, Maybe history will tell. All the best too!

YSM

Damanhuri Abas

Main article: Damanhuri Abas' views on homosexuality
DamanhuriBinAbas001


One of the SDP's Malay-Muslim candidates running in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC during the 2015 General Elections, Damanhuri Abas, thinks that Section 377A should not be repealed. He even had a hand in drafting the Fellowship of Muslim Students Association (FMSA) statement supporting NUS professor Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied when he dehumanised lesbians by describing them as ‘diseases’ and ‘cancers’ of society[13],[14].

Damanhuri377AFacebook001


He contradicts himself by saying that he believes in a society where everyone is treated as equals and is against the discrimination of Hijabi Muslimahs and Malay-Muslims in the military while, at the same time, supporting the criminalisation of gay Singaporeans.

Neutral towards LGBT equality

Benjamin Pwee

Main article: Benjamin Pwee's views on homosexuality

Benjamin Pwee is a Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) parliamentary candidate for the 2020 General Elections. He heads media management under the Central Executive Committee of the SDP. He left the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in February 2019.

On Tuesday, 18 August 2015, Inconvenient Questions interviewed Pwee when he was still a member of the Democratic Progressive Party regarding his stand on Section 377A, amongst other issues after the NUSS political forum on the 2015 General Elections.

Pwee, who has been a committed Protestant Christian since his youth, did not take a firm stand on whether 377A should be repealed or not, saying that it was instead a question of legislative fairness and regulation of private behaviour[15].


Transcript:

"377A is again a very complex issue. How we see it on our side is that there is a distinction between what is and should be regulated within the sphere of the private, within the sphere of a community, within the sphere of a family and what is to be regulated under a criminal Penal Code at the national level.

And issues that are dealt with at a criminal Penal Code level need to be something that is fair and applicable across everybody.

So the question around 377A I think is not about whether you repeal it or you don't repeal it. The question of 377A is "Does it need to be rewritten? Does it need to be revised where it applies?" If it's going to apply and stand, it should apply to men AND women. If it's not going to apply at all, it should not apply to men or women.

The issues are around how do we see legislative restrictions and limitations on private choices. But at the same time to also say that if a community is not ready for it, can that community also regulate itself and deal with this issue, where the state steps out of what could be a very private decision amongst two people.

So that's our position on 377A."

Former SDP politicians

Vincent Wijeysingha

See also: Vivian Balakrishnan attacks Vincent Wijeysingha for having alleged gay agenda during 2011 General Elections

Vincent Wijeysingha was Singapore's first openly gay politician. He was a member of the SDP from 2010 to 2013. He served as the party's Treasurer and stood as a parliamentary candidate in the 2011 General Elections.

During a public forum entitled, "377A – Where did it come from and where should it go" held from 3pm to 6pm on Saturday, 27 November 2010 at a pub called The Public House, located at 42 Circular Road, Boat Quay, Wijeysingha spoke regarding the upcoming Section 377A constitutional challenge initiated by human rights lawyer M Ravi on behalf of his client Tan Eng Hong[16]:


Gandhi Ambalam

GandhiAmbalam001a

On 12 October 2007, Gandhi Ambalam, Chairman of the SDP from 2007 to 2011 who passed away in November 2018, published the following message on the party's website[17]:

"In accordance with our party principles, the SDP supports the call to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code.

In the section What We Stand For on this website, we stated: “As a nation, we must not only show tolerance but also acceptance of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion. Discrimination of our fellow human beings has been one human frailty that has wreaked much destruction and misery.”

We stand by our words and say unambiguously that Section 377A discriminates against a segment of our population and that discrimination, in whatever form, has no place in society.

We therefore call on the PAP Government to repeal the law."

Gandhi Ambalam

Chairman

Singapore Democratic Party"

Against LGBT equality

See also

References

Advertisement