Singapore to repeal colonial-era law against gay sex: PM

However, the repeal of section 377A stops short of full marriage equality.

August 22, 2022 04:59 am | Updated 04:59 am IST - Singapore

The government will repeal section 377A and decriminalise sex between men. File photo shows a woman wrapped in the rainbow flag at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore’s annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore on July 1, 2017.

The government will repeal section 377A and decriminalise sex between men. File photo shows a woman wrapped in the rainbow flag at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore’s annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore on July 1, 2017. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday the country will repeal a colonial-era law criminalising gay sex, though he maintained that the government will continue to “uphold” marriage as between a man and a woman.

Inherited from the British colonial era, section 377A of Singapore’s penal code penalises sex between men with up to two years in jail.

Gay rights campaigners have long said the law runs afoul of the affluent city-state’s increasingly modern and vibrant culture, and had mounted two unsuccessful legal challenges.

‘Attitudes have shifted’

During a major policy speech on Sunday, Mr. Lee said attitudes have shifted since 15 years ago when the government decided the law should remain, although it has not been actively enforced.

“The government will repeal section 377A and decriminalise sex between men. I believe this is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will now accept,” he said.

However, the repeal of section 377A stops short of full marriage equality.

Mr. Lee said the government recognises that “most Singaporeans do not want the repeal to trigger a drastic shift in our societal norms across the board”, including how marriage is defined and how it is taught in schools.

“Hence, we will uphold and safeguard the institution of marriage,” he said.

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