The Independent

Should The SAF Declare Its Homosexuality Rulings?

Should The SAF Declare Its Homosexuality Rulings?
It is the most wrapped up and undisclosed of all open secrets: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) does have homosexuals in its ranks.
That should not surprise anybody as homosexuality does exist across the world, so why can’t it happen here, in Singapore? As after all, there is such a thing as the Nations Parade which is the Singapore equivalent of the globe-trotting Mardi Gras that is always celebrated with incredible fanfare in parts of Australia, the United States and other Western nations.
Why that is so, is because these are liberal democracies that are willing to accept that not everybody is born the same. Some are different and different sexual orientations, is not a denial of the order of nature as how Singapore’s former colonial masters would have wanted us to believe arguing that sex between men is criminal. Hence the provision of section 377a of the penal code. Rather oddly, the 18th century law which Singapore still retains, makes no mention of sex between women thus lending by way of inference that sexual liaisons between women is permissible. What a contradiction!
Not since former US president Bill Clinton famously enunciated his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy regarding the lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender in 1993, has the issue of homosexuals and their plight hiding in closets and in dark corners, been more articulated than it has ever been.
Since Clinton’s famous dictum and the condemnation that followed from the then hero of the first Iraq War, General Norman Schwarzkopf of risk turning the armed forces into some kind of a ‘social laboratory’; homosexuality and what it is has had a fluid flow of furious debate. In the 2000 US presidential debate Republican candidate George W Bush erred on the side of caution when he told his moderator he does not know if homosexuality was either a lifestyle or inbred.
All of these renderings brings forth the question to what the position of the SAF should be? It after all, is a very vital institution in our nation and its codified reference to homosexual and effeminate men as ‘302s’, does little more than a pinprick acknowledgement that these are men who are different from the rest of the lot in its ranks.
What the SAF does not do, is to delegitimize homosexuality as being a disease – or of some would be subconsciously say, as being a character disorder – and come out openly labelling that it just another alternative lifestyle that we are getting used to.
As of now there is that perception that the SAF is yet ready to acknowledge gay men in it ranks. The longer that remains gays would have to continue remaining in their tightly vented closets fearing stigmatization and harassment.