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27 Feb 2023

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Singapore?

Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Singapore? Let's take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Singapore will repeal a law that bans gay sex, effectively making it legal to be homosexual in the city-state.
The decision, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on national TV, comes after years of fierce debate.
LGBT activists in Singapore have hailed the move as "a win for humanity".
The city-state is known for its conservative values, but in recent years an increasing number of people have called for the colonial-era 377A law to be abolished.
Singapore is the latest place in Asia to move on LGBT rights, after India, Taiwan and Thailand.
The government's previous stance was to keep 377A - which bans sex between men - but it also promised not to enforce the law in an effort to appease both sides.
But on Sunday night, Mr Lee said they would abolish the law as he believed "this is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will accept".
He noted that "gay people are now better accepted" and scrapping 377A would bring the country's laws in line with "current social mores, and I hope, provide some relief to gay Singaporeans".
"We finally did it, and we're ecstatic that this discriminatory, antiquated law is finally going to be off the books. There's a sense that maybe it took a little too long, but it had to happen, you know. Today we are very, very happy," gay activist Johnson Ong told the BBC.
A coalition of LGBT rights groups called it a "hard-won victory and a triumph of love over fear", adding it was the first step towards full equality.
But they also expressed concern over another announcement Mr Lee made in the same speech.
He had said the government would ensure better legal protection for the definition of marriage as one between a man and a woman. This would effectively make it harder for gay marriage to be legalised.
He said Singapore remains a traditional society with many keen on maintaining family and social norms.
LGBT activists called this "disappointing" and warned that it would only further entrench discrimination in society.
Meanwhile Protect Singapore, a conservative group, said they were "deeply disappointed" that the repeal was going ahead without assurance of "comprehensive safeguards".
They called for the definition of heterosexual marriage to be fully enshrined in the constitution, as well as laws banning "LGBT promotion" to children.x

Ending the ban on gay sex

After a long campaign by Singapore's LGBTQ community, and in the face of a lot of opposition from religious and conservative leaders, Singapore's ban on gay sex was finally removed in 2022.

Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Singapore?

Not really. There are some protections against hate-crimes, but not a comprehensive framework of protection against discrimination based on sexuality.

Is there Marriage Equality for LGBTQ people in Singapore?

No, there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

One of the compromises for ending the ban on gay sex was that the definition of marriage was strengthened to explicit limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

What's life like for LGBTQ people in Singapore?

Singapore is a socially conservative country, however there is a vibrant and visible LGBTQ community and a number of queer venues and events.

Why was homosexuality illegal in Singapore?

By taking advantage of regional instability and a power struggle within the Malaysian Sultanate, the British government colonised Singapore in 1819.

British control of the island included the introduction of the British legal system, which – at that time – included laws against sex between men.

Singapore became independent in 1965, but the colonial legal system remain in place.

Following a review of the Penal Code in 1938, the laws that policed sexual activity were documented within Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code. The laws meant that anal sex and oral sex were prohibited for everyone – heterosexual or homosexual. In 2007, amendments to the law specifically legalised anal sex and oral sex for heterosexual sexual encounters, but they remained criminalised for man-on-man sexual encounters. Sex between women isn’t covered by Section 377A and doesn’t appear to have ever been explicitly prohibited in Singapore law.

Although rarely enforced, the government resisted calls to repeal Section 377A until it finally agreed to do so in 2022.

Research into the archives of the British Government has shed some light on why Section 377A was originally enacted. A 1940 report to the British Government official responsible for the administration of Singapore reveals a direct link between the enactment of Section 377A and the colonial administration’s concerns about its Singapore officials’ extensive use of male prostitutes at that time. The 1940 report details disciplinary action taken against government officials in 1938 – the year that Section 377A came into effect. This suggests that Section 377A was designed to regulate and control prostitution rather than what was happening in private between consenting adults, but the reality of this law has been the criminalisation of gay men.

Reader's Comments

1. 2022-08-22 23:36  
It's about time, though still not enough.
2. 2022-08-24 05:38  
elections coming up?
3. 2022-10-18 20:07  
Just curious to know if the outcome would have been different if the story line involved someone other than a pastor, e.g. someone secular like a journalist, lawyer, etc., who propagated hate against homosexuals?
4. 2022-10-19 02:22  
Religion has become the very evil that they claim they have been fighting against. Religious sects are corroded from within and should be disbanded in their present form.
Religious ideology doesn't tolerate the healthy development or growth of any civilization. They want to dominate and control by whatever means necessary.

I am glad to see there are Singaporeans that are standing up to these religious fractions and demanding social change.
I hope they can show this film in the future and I can't wait to see Section 377A removed.
5. 2022-10-19 19:48  
This is the problem that LGBT in Singapore does not want to promote Kinsey Scale Test. Get all the politicians, especially the Christians to take it and you can see them sick and hospitalised because the test results would be either bi sexuals or homosexuals.
6. 2022-10-20 02:10  
Election coming up
7. 2023-02-28 09:06
We're still facing resistance from religious quarters:


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