pebblesDaryl Yang Wei Jian in a letter to the forum at the Straits Times Online Forum wrote about the urgency of the problem of homophobic bullying faced by young members of the LGBT community in Singapore.

He referred to a survey conducted by Oogachaga in 2012, which found that 45.4 to 71.4 per cent of respondents had faced abuse, discrimination and bullying in school.


Last week, the Octoberman Diaries published a short story about homophobic bullying in an all boys’ school in Singapore.  https://octobermansg.wordpress.com/category/tales-from-the-diary-of-the-octoberman/ While just plain fiction and not based on observations of any single person in particular, it is based on stories from eye witnesses of incidents as well as what I had seen myself.  Of course, some incidents had been made more dramatic to suit the story line but they are not far-fetched or just a figment of an overly imaginative mind.

Another thing is that the incidents were based on experiences in the 70s and 80s, the setting of the short story.  Today, instead of the bullying getting less and the climate becoming better and safer, it has possibly gotten worse with the advent and popularity of the internet and social media platforms.  While the internet and globalization have made our young people more aware of the LGBT community, the attacks seem to have become more damaging.

One view out there is that while in the past, bullying was more physical and visible publicly, it has since become more harmful as the bravado of the bully has increased behind the personae of a nickname on the social media.  Also while in the past, it was possible to just walk away when bullied, the ever presence of the social media today would mean a non-escape for our young victims.

The Power of Social Pressure

Society at large has indirectly condoned homophobic bullying in that the loud voices of condemnation have legitimized the attacks.  If it is constantly preached that there is something wrong with someone who has a different sexual attraction, would it not give reasons for the social pressure that comes from bullying and all in the name of a moral stand?  Just what bullies need to justify their act.

The Impact of 377A

What sets the direction for society at large is basically the law.  As long as 377A remains, minds will not be so easily changed.  There will always be the fact that there is something wrong with being gay – the resultant argument that springs from outlawing men having sex with men.  Even if one is a sympathizer, one cannot obliterate the fact that it is against the law.  And it gives legitimacy to the homophobic bully, well at least in his or her sick mind.  I’m not arguing that once 377A goes, that all of society will immediately embrace and accept our LGBT brothers and sisters.  Most likely not but it is an important first step towards acceptance.

Want to reduce homophobic bullying?  Perhaps repealing 377A may be the first step in that direction.

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