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27 Jun 2019

Singapore will keep anti-gay law Section 377A 'for some time' says PM

'We are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East’ said Lee Hsien Loong.

Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (26 June) said the city’s British colonial-era anti-gay law Section 377A would be around ‘for some time’. But, he told attendees at a tech conference, it would not prevent the city attracting international talent.  Section 377A of the city’s criminal code criminalises gay sex with up to two years in jail. Authorities rarely enforce the law, but a majority of Singapore citizens, who are largely religious and conservative, support keeping the law.

Lee was speaking as a guest of honor at the Smart Nation Summit in Singapore. An audience member asked how the country’s regulations could be changed to attract top talent—including Section 377A. ‘You know our rules in Singapore’ Lee is reported to have replied. ‘Whatever your sexual orientation, you are welcome to come and work in Singapore’ he said. ‘It is the way this society is: We are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East. [We are] something in between, it is the way the society is.’

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Reader's Comments

1. 2019-06-28 03:09  
This Lee is clearly not as intelligent or brave as his father was. Rather than leading, he is kowtowing to an intolerant section of the community. In fact, his statement that S'pore is not like San Francisco is not entirely true. I have been to Singapore countless times in the last 35 years and I can confidently say that it is probably the gayest place in Asia.
2. 2019-06-29 14:55
That, with respect #capitan, is frankly not true in the slightest. If you bother to look into Singapore history, you will note that Lee Kuan Yew, whilst he accomplished a miracle in developing modern Singapore, was very much the total autocrat. After all, this is one of his more regularly repeated quotes - “I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”

I have been in Singapore well over 120 times in the last 40 years, sometimes staying for over a month. Yes, it is gay. But Taipei is now much more gay (and vastly more tolerant) and Thailand remains very gay. How often have you visited them? Your confidence is entirely misplaced, sorry to say. Singapore still has Section 377A on the statute books and many in the Singapore LGBT community fear this. Lee senior dd absolutely nothing to repeal it. Singapore has also increasingly imposed very substantial restrictions on the annual Pink Dot gathering. The fact is it is an embarrassment to the government. I repeat - Singapore is very far from being anywhere near the gayest place in Asia.

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