Singapore to decriminalize sex between men

Singapore will decriminalize sex between men

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong , in Singapore, August 23, 2021.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday that his government will soon repeal the law criminalizing sex between men, which dates from British colonial times.

The government will repeal [the law] and decriminalize sex between men. I believe it is the right thing to do and something most Singaporeans will now accept, he said in a policy speech on Sunday.

The Prime Minister clarified that he would, however, continue to defend marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Section 377A of the Criminal Code, a holdover from British colonial rule, provides a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for homosexual acts. Lesbian women are not affected by this section of the law.

It is not enforced in practice, but for gay rights activists it still deprives members of the gay community of their rights, despite the increasingly modern culture of the city-state.

The Prime Minister felt that the situation had changed. Gay people are now much more accepted in Singapore, especially among young people, he pointed out. It is timely to ask ourselves again this important question: Should private sex between two men be considered a crime?

“The Repeal of the Act will bring the legislation in line with changing attitudes and hopefully bring peace to gay Singaporeans. »

— Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore

Gay rights groups have welcomed the announcement.

L' Repeal of Section 377A is the first step on the long road to full equality for LGBTQ+ people in Singapore, some 20 organizations wrote in a joint text.

But the real impact of the repeal will be determined by how the people of Singapore come to terms with it and act on it, in the days and months ahead, they added. /p>

Several attempts to have this text annulled have failed in recent years, contrasting with the situation of gay rights elsewhere in Asia, such as in Taiwan where same-sex marriage has been legalized there since 2019, or again in India, which decriminalized sex between men in 2018.

In February, Singapore's Supreme Court ruled that the law would stand because of its symbolic weight, but with the premise that it would not be proactively enforced.

Several thousand people gathered in June in Singapore to demand better recognition of gay rights.

The percentage of people who support a ban on same-sex relations fell from 55% in 2018 to 44% in 2022, according to a June survey by Ipsos.

However, Lee Hsien Loong stressed that he did not want to change the law providing that civil marriage only consecrates the union of a man and a woman.< /p>

“Most Singaporeans do not want the repeal of the law to trigger a drastic change in our mores.

—Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore

The government will therefore amend the constitution to protect the conception of marriage as currently defined by law. Remarks deplored by associations for the defense of homosexual rights.

“Any government initiative to introduce new laws and amendments constitutional statements highlighting the unequal treatment of LGBTQ+ people is heartbreaking. Such a decision would undermine the secular nature of our constitution […] and tie the hands of future parliaments. »

— Excerpts from press releases from associations defending the rights of homosexuals

A coalition of Protestant churches had expressed, before the speech of the Prime Minister , of his concern over the possible repeal of the law, an important moral and social landmark in the face of intolerant and aggressive LGBT activism that seeks to impose its ideology on Singaporean society.

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