Legalizing Gay Sex in Singapore

The Asia-Pacific region, home to almost 5 billion people, has various laws and views. Singapore’s decision to legalize sex between men is being praised as a move in the right direction for LGBTQ rights in this large region. Only a few places permit same-sex marriage, partnerships, or unions, even though many have decriminalized sexual actions between persons of the same sex. Singapore moderated its decision by announcing that it would change its constitution to forbid such marriage from ever occurring. Many laws prohibiting males from having sex with other men in the region were put into place during British colonial control in the 19th and 20th centuries and often referred to such actions as violations of the “order of nature.”

Government Response

The country’s penal code, Section 377A will be repealed to “bring it into line with current societal mores,” according to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement over the weekend. In an address at the yearly National Day Rally, Mr. Lee stated that “there is no rationale to prosecute people for it or to make it a crime.”

Mx Yeong, 28, said she and other queer youngsters were happy the section was removed from the penal code. The LGBT community can now be free to walk around with their loved ones without fear. One of the organizations that petitioned the government to change the colonial-era law was Young OUT Here, a Singapore organization that supports LGBT youth. Benjamin Xue is the co-founder and executive director of Young OUT Here.

Under the British colonial authority, Section 377A was first implemented in 1938, making any acts of sex between men illegal, regardless of consent. Although Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared in 2007 that 377A would not be vigorously enforced, the law has faced several challenges over the past 15 years. Each obstacle pushed the law’s repeal one step closer, but none of them was ultimately successful.

But in a move that alarmed some LGBT Singaporeans, Mr. Lee said that the government would modify the constitution to limit the definition of marriage to unions between men and women to avoid further legal disputes. This shows that any reform to legalize same-sex marriage would need to be approved by Singapore’s parliament rather than going through the courts.

The Public opinion

377A did neither initiate nor put a stop to discrimination. LGBT Singaporeans deal with several challenges in the workplace, educational policy, and media representation, and most of this prejudice has its roots in 377A, but not exclusively. Elaine Pearson, the interim Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told the ABC that the repeal of 377A was a “huge step forward” for Singaporeans.

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