Singapore Shows Clear Divide Over 377A Repeal
Last Thursday’s (6 Sep) ruling by India’s Supreme Court saw Section 377 of their Penal Code being struck down.
It removed India from the list of countries that explicitly outlawed intercourse between men.
Soon after the landmark ruling, a prominent Singaporean diplomat, Tommy Koh, called for a class action suit to challenge Section 377A.
But judging by the numerous petitions left in the wake of his comments, Singaporeans remain deeply split about the notion.
Keep 377A pls
An online petition calling on Singapore’s government to retain the ban has picked up over 80,000 signatures since its launch on Saturday (8 Sep).
Titled “Please Keep Penal Code 377A in Singapore”, the petition was created by user Paul P, and aims to garner 150,000 signatures.
Petition users highlighted the possibility that Singapore might be the next country to decriminalise homosexual relations.
The petition also stated that Singapore is a largely “conservative society” at least 3 times, and voiced opinions that abolishing 377A would lead to a “greater push for other LGBT rights”.
They felt that the vocal minority were imposing their values and practices on the silent majority.
Signees left comments on the site, citing a variety of reasons for wanting 377A to stay.
Reasons ranged from wanting to preserve our Asian societal and religious values to keeping Singapore “strong and harmonious”.
Repeal 377A pls
Conversely, there are pro-repeal petitioners who are ready for the change.
The petition to repeal 377A started on 8 Sep as well and has amassed 8,000 signatures to date.
They wanted the repeal to be based on “justice and equality”.
Another similar petition, titled “Ready for Repeal” created by Singapore film-maker Glen Goei and Johannes Hadi has gathered over 11,000 signatures.
The petition will be sent to the Penal Code Review Committee and 38 Members of Parliament by 24 Sep.
Petitioners indicated that they share a vision of a more inclusive nation, that “treats all her citizens equally”.
They are “ready for a Singapore where people are not afraid to simply be who they are”.
Some signees supported the stance that “love is love” and pointed out the ironic fact on how Singapore is one of the world’s richest countries yet we are still limiting basic human rights.
On the fence
The British colonial-era law under Section 377A of our Penal Code criminalises sex between mutually consenting adult men.
If convicted, ‘offenders’ could face up to 2 years in jail, although the law hasn’t been actively enforced.
This prompted a response from Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, who asserted that the government is “in the middle” on the issue.
It is up to the Singaporean society to decide on where it wants to go with Section 377A, he said, as public opinion is often relevant.
Will we ever see the needle shift?
Unless there’s an actual referendum, these petitions might probably be the best census on whether we should keep the law or do away with it.
You can have your say on the matter at the following links:
For 377A Repeal
Against 377A Repeal
Do sign away if you want your voices to be heard.
Featured image from Facebook.