Sex between men is no longer a crime in Singapore – 08/21/2022 – World

Singapore will decriminalize sex between men but has no plans to change the legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday.

LGBTQIA+ groups welcomed the decision to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men, but also expressed concern that not including same-sex marriage in the change will help perpetuate discrimination.

Lee said Singaporean society, particularly the younger section, is becoming more gay-friendly. “It’s the right thing to do and something that most Singaporeans will now accept,” he said.

It was unclear when Section 377A will be repealed. With this Sunday’s announcement, the country becomes the latest Asian nation to move to end discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people.

In 2018, India’s highest court scrapped a colonial-era ban on gay sex, while Thailand has recently moved closer to legalizing same-sex unions.

In Singapore, offenders can be jailed for up to two years — although convictions for consensual sex between adult men have not been known for decades. The law does not include sex between women.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer groups across the country faced numerous legal challenges to overturn the law, but none were successful. On Sunday, these organizations made a joint statement saying they are “relieved” following the prime minister’s announcement.

“For all those who have suffered every kind of bullying, rejection and harassment allowed by this law, the repeal finally allows the healing process to begin. For those who yearn for a more equal and inclusive Singapore, the repeal means that change is indeed possible “, they said, in the text.

The document also urges the government not to heed requests from religious conservatives to reaffirm the Constitution’s definition of marriage, which would indicate that LGBTQIA+ citizens are not equal.

Wedding

In his speech, however, the prime minister emphasized the government’s continued support for the traditional definition of marriage: “We believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that children should be brought up within such families, that the traditional family should form the basic foundation of society”.

Singapore “will protect the definition of marriage from being constitutionally challenged in the courts,” Lee said. “This will help us repeal Section 377A in a controlled and carefully evaluated manner.”

Some religious groups, including Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, continue to resist the decriminalization announced now, the prime minister said. An alliance of more than 80 churches expressed disappointment with the decision. “The repeal is an extremely regrettable decision that will have a profound impact on the culture in which our children and future generations of Singaporeans will live,” the statement reads.

In February, Singapore’s highest court ruled that because the law criminalizing relationships between men was not being enforced, it did not violate constitutional rights, as LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups argued. Thus, the court stated that the legal provision could no longer be used.

Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious society of 5.5 million people, of which about 16% are Muslim, and with large Buddhist and Christian communities. The population is predominantly ethnic Chinese, with significant Malay and Indian minorities, according to the 2020 census.

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