SINGAPORE: In his 2022 National Day Rally speech on 22 August 2022, Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, announced that Singapore would repeal Section 377A, bringing the law in line with current social norms. The news would bring some solace to gay Singaporeans.
“They are our fellow Singaporeans. They are our colleagues, our friends, and our family members. They too want to live their own lives, participate in our community, and contribute fully to Singapore.” PM Lee said.
While the LGBT community welcomed the long-awaited change, PM Lee stated that the city-state would amend the Constitution to protect the definition of marriage between a man and a woman as a compromise with conservative and religious groups.
“We must find a way to reconcile and accommodate our society’s traditional mores and gay Singaporeans’ desire to be respected and accepted,” PM Lee said.
More than 20 LGBTQ rights organizations, including Action For Aids Singapore, Free Community Church, Pink Dot SG, Young Out Here and Oogachaga have issued a joint community statement. “While long overdue, the repeal of Section 377A is a significant milestone and a powerful statement that state-sanctioned discrimination has no place in Singapore.”
The groups added that the repeal “finally enables us to begin the process of healing” for those in the community who have experienced bullying, rejection, and harassment “enabled” by this law.
According to Professor Roy Chan of Action for Aids (AfA) Singapore, the organization will “work to increase and strengthen efforts to eliminate the stigma and discrimination faced by gay and other men who have sex with men, as well as the wider LGBTQ communities, in accessing early diagnosis and care for HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and other health challenges.”
Looking beyond the community, Mr Leow Yangfa and Mr Bryan Choong from Oogachaga stated that repealing 377A will not only improve the lives of LGBTQ Singaporeans and their families but will also improve the lives of Singaporeans in general.
“It will also benefit business and trade while enhancing our international reputation as a progressive, developed economy.”
Those who advocate for gay rights have long argued that 377A perpetuates discrimination at all levels of society, including schools, workplaces, health care, and the media, even if it is not enforced.
Top image from Pink Dot SG’s Facebook page.