Eugene Tan: 377A and the Law’s Limitations

In this commentary on the imperative for Singaporeans to co-create Singapore’s post-s377A future, SMU Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan noted that the repeal of section 377A of the Penal Code and the constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage do not attempt to deny the contending groups’ deepest disagreements. Neither does it require them to surrender their deep commitments and fundamental values. Rather, it is about having civil and principled disagreements while being in community, even amid the deepest differences. Assoc Prof Tan opined that whilst it is inevitable to have differing views, it is more important to live and let live, and to seek a common ground. He added that although laws and legal systems can provide structure, rules, and sanctions against non-compliance, they fail to instil in us the necessary values and norms to build bridges across differences. Assoc Prof Tan concluded that to do so requires a coherent set of shared values, and a workable framework for dealing with disagreements.

Lianhe Zaobao