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Saturday 12 November 2016

Singapore's Antigay Section 377A

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 11th March 2016

Singapore continues to delay decriminalisation of male homosexuality, noting that while it is still technically illegal, it doesn't actively enforce the antigay section of its British colonial era criminal code any longer. However, Singapore's LGBT community complains that this isn't enough.

Section 377A of the Code mandates that:

"Any male person, who in public or private, commits or abets in the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment that will last no less than two years."

Section 377, its predecessor, criminalised women who had straight anal sex with men as well, and also included references to zoophilia. It was repealed in 2001 and replaced with Section 377A. It was included in criminal justice legislation for the colonial era Straits Settlements in 1938 and passed unamended into Singapore's post-colonial criminal code in 1955. It is irrelevant that gay sex occurs in Singapore in private, although the governing authorities have assured LGBT Singaporeans that such particular provisions will never be enforced in the current context. Predictably, Singapore's fundamentalist Christian antigay activists have been parrotting the use of US Christian Right propaganda, tactics and strategy against Singapore's local LGBT communities. Of its neighbours, Myanmar, Malaysia and Brunei are the only ones who still ban male homosexuality. There has been support for decriminalisation from liberal Christians, the local entertainment industry, liberal backbench Peoples Action Party MPs in the city-state's legislature, but the conservative Ministry of Home Affairs and current Singaporean Prime Minister have ruled out decriminalisation for now, although have said they intend that Section 377A should never be enforced, effectively rendering it moribund. Meanwhile, Singapore's pro-reform Pink Dot protests continue to hold sedate, orderly and law-abiding protests against the maintenance of (theoretical) gay male criminality, as it has done ever since 2009, with solidarity demonstrations across the world. They have some powerful allies- former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the founding parent of his country, backs Section 377's repeal as well. The debate continues apace.

One emphatic recent source of disapproval was fiery US Chinese-American lesbian comedian Margaret Cho. In her Singapore show (6 March), Cho criticised Singapore's continuing retention of Section 377A and noted that although she was wearing a white top, that did not imply that she endorsed the "Wear White" Muslim social conservative campaign in the island nation for retention of Section 377A. The retention campaign was also joined by fundamentalist Christian leader Lawrence Khong of the Faith Community Baptist Church, a local fundamentalist Pentecostal megachurch.


Doug Sander: "377 and the Unnatural Afterlife of British Colonialism in Asia:" Asian Journal of Comparative Law: 4:1 (2009):http://www uploads/2009/04/new-version_ 377_sander.pdf

Human Rights Watch: "This Alien Legacy: The Origins of "Sodomy" Laws in British Colonialism" HRW: December 2008: sites/default/files/reports/ lgbt1208 _web.pdf

Alex Au: "Why Section 377A is redundant" Yawning Bread (May 2007):http://www. arch_2007/yax-749.htm

Mohan Gopalan: "A heftier list of Section 377 cases" Yawning Bread (May 2007):http://www. /guw-136.htm

Pink Dot Singapore:

Lee Kuan Yew's views on homosexuality:http://sgwiki. com/wiki/Lee_Kuan_Yew's_views_ o n_homosexuality

Darius Zheng: "Margaret Cho criticises Singapore antigay sex law and megachurch pastor in her show"Gaystarnews:07.03.2016:http://www. margaret-cho-criticises- singapore-anti-gay-sex-law- and-megachurch-pastor-in-her- show/ #gs.jq9ozUw

Not Recommended:

Lawrence Khong:

Craig Young - 11th March 2016

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