Why Singapore’s gay sex law change is a double-edged sword for LGBTQ activists

Date:

On closer inspection, it seemed to many to be a double-edged sword.

That’s because when the Singapore government repealed that law, it reiterated its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Shortly after announcing that consensual gay sex would no longer be illegal, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual rally speech in August that his government would “maintain and protect the institution of marriage” – defined in the constitution as a union between husband and wife. female.

That move appeared to be aimed at reaching a compromise with conservative segments of society who are still vociferously opposed to same-sex marriage. Christianity is the third most popular religion in Singapore after Buddhism and Taoism, comprising nearly one in five Singaporeans, according to the 2020 census. At the same time, the city-state is home to several evangelical megachurches that preach against homosexuality.

Lee noted in his speech that gay rights remain “a very sensitive and controversial” issue for conservatives in the country.

“What we’re looking for is a political adjustment, one that balances the legitimate views and aspirations of Singaporeans,” Lee said.

“But everyone has to accept that no group can have things their way,” he added.

For gay rights activists, the ongoing ban on same-sex marriage is a major blow. There’s more at stake than the ability to have a white wedding in the church: in Singapore, married couples with registered marriages have access to more housing subsidies and adoption rights than single people.

So while activists in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community welcomed the repeal of the gay sex law, many were also disappointed.

And that disappointment will have only grown with the suggestion by some of Lee’s ministers that the government should not just stay against same-sex marriage — it may even put up additional hurdles to keep people from wanting to challenge marriage laws in court.

Justice Minister K Shanmugam said in an interview with state media that Parliament, rather than the courts, would have the power to define marriage – effectively making it more difficult for people to legally challenge government policies, such as several gay men have tried in recent years.

That has played well with some conservative religious groups.

“We are encouraged that the government has indicated that it will take steps to protect the prevailing norms and values ​​of Singaporean society regarding marriage,” Bishop Titus Chung said in a statement on behalf of the Diocese of Singapore.

Proud to be back: Pink Dot rally in Singapore returns colorful

The National Church Council, made up of several local churches and Christian organizations, said its members “further appreciated” the government’s assurances that it would “maintain and protect the institution of marriage.”

And the Singaporean Catholic Church also applauded the government’s move. “Otherwise we take a slippery road with no return, weakening the fabric of a strong society based on holistic families and marriages,” it said.

Activists, meanwhile, have expressed their disappointment.

“Any move by the government to introduce further legislation or constitutional changes that flag LGBTQ+ people as unequal citizens is disappointing,” more than 20 activist groups said in a joint statement.

‘This is not the end’

Still, some activists say they prefer to focus on the positives, at least for now.

As Associate Professor Eugene Tan of Singapore Management University put it: “Singapore has repealed a law long considered discriminatory against gay men. Viewing the current situation as lifting one ban in favor of preserving another is over. to the progress made.”

In 2012, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, a gay couple who had been together for 15 years, challenged the gay sex law in Singapore’s Supreme Court.

“For us, the repeal (the gay sex law) was never about same-sex marriage,” the couple said. “We’re just both relieved that after ten years (its abolition) happened in our lifetime.”

A gay rights advocate at the annual Pink Dot event in Singapore.

However, they admit to being disappointed with the government’s comments about the marriage.

“We expected this to happen, but it’s not the end,” said Lim. “The work doesn’t stop and with this repeal, things will get stronger and move forward as the queer community heals.”

“Getting married would be a nice acknowledgment of our relationship and love for each other, but right now that’s not the most important thing,” Chee said.

“But it (amazes me) how our marriage would affect heterosexual marriages, I don’t understand,” he added.

“I hope the conservatives can one day see that gays are not dangerous or a threat to them or their children. They don’t have to be afraid of us.”

“And maybe in the future we can all forge a relationship and work together.”

CNN’s Jan Camenzind Broomby contributed to this piece.

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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Popular

More like this
Related

Malcare WordPress Security