Singapore will decriminalize sex between men, prime minister says

Date:

  • Under existing law, men face up to 2 years in prison for gay sex
  • The law has not been actively enforced for decades
  • PM Lee says Singaporean society is ready for this change
  • reaffirms support for the traditional definition of marriage

SINGAPORE, Aug. 21 (Reuters) – Singapore will decriminalize sex between men but has no plans to change the legal definition of marriage between a man and a woman, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.

LGBTQ groups welcomed Lee’s decision to repeal section 377A of the penal code, a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men, but also expressed concern that excluding same-sex marriage would help perpetuate discrimination. .

In his annual rally speech on National Day, Lee said Singaporean society, especially young people in the city-state, was increasingly accepting of gays.

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“I believe this is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will now accept,” he said.

It was unclear when exactly Section 377A would be repealed.

Singapore becomes the last Asian country to end discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

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

Under Singapore’s Section 377A, offenders can face up to two years in prison under the law, but this is not currently being actively enforced. There have been no known convictions for sex between consenting adult men for decades, and the law does not include sex between women or other genders.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) groups have faced multiple legal challenges to overturn the law, but none have succeeded.

On Sunday, several LGBTQ rights groups said in a joint statement they were “relieved” by Lee’s announcement.

“For anyone who has experienced the kind of bullying, rejection and intimidation made possible by this law, repeal finally allows us to begin the healing process. For those longing for a more equal and inclusive Singapore, repeal does mean change.” possible,” they said in the statement.

But the groups also urged the government not to heed calls from religious conservatives to enshrine the definition of marriage in the constitution, saying it would mean that LGBTQ+ citizens are not equal.

RESISTANCE

In February, Singapore’s highest court had ruled that, as the law was not enforced, it did not infringe constitutional rights, as the plaintiffs had claimed, and reaffirmed that the law could not be used to prosecute men for crimes. having gay sex.

Some religious groups, including Muslims, Catholics and some Protestants, continued to oppose any repeal of the law, Lee said.

An alliance of more than 80 churches expressed deep disappointment at the government’s decision on Sunday.

“The withdrawal 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,” it said.

Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-faith society of 5.5 million people, approximately 16% of whom are Muslim, with larger Buddhist and Christian communities. It has a predominantly ethnic Chinese population with significant Malaysian and Indian minorities, according to the 2020 census.

Lee emphasized his administration’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 raised in such families, that the traditional family is the fundamental building block of society. should form.”

Singapore will “protect the definition of marriage from constitutional challenge by the courts,” he said. “This will help us repeal Section 377A in a controlled and deliberate manner.”

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Reporting by Chen Lin, Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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