“Sex between consenting men should not be criminalized. There is no justification to prosecute people for it, nor to make it a crime,” he said in his annual policy address, National Day Rally, on television. done live.
The Prime Minister said, “I believe that (repealing) is the right thing to do, and is something that most Singaporeans will now accept. This will bring the law in line with current social customs, and I hope gay Singaporeans.” will get some relief.” ,
“Like every human society, we have gay people among us. They are our fellow Singaporeans. They are our allies, our friends, our family members. They also want to live their lives, participate in our community, and Would like to contribute fully to Singapore,” he said.
However, the government would not change the country’s legal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, Lee said, meaning laws would be strengthened to protect that definition.
A community statement from more than 20 LGBTQ groups in Singapore called the planned decriminalization of sex among men “long overdue” and “a significant milestone and a powerful statement that state-sanctioned discrimination has no place in Singapore.” “
As for the definition of marriage, the statement emphasizes that “any move by the government to introduce further legislation or constitutional amendments that signal LGBTQ+ people as unequal citizens is dismal. Urges conservatives not to heed the recent call to ensure the definition of marriage in the Constitution.”
colonial era law
Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code was promulgated by the British colonial government in 1938 when Singapore was a British colony. It punishes homosexual sex – even if it is consensual between adults, and occurs in private – to imprisonment for up to two years.
Similar laws were implemented in areas ruled by the British Empire such as India, and some of these countries have repealed such laws over the years.
LGBTQ activists in Singapore have long called for the law to be repealed.
In 2007, the Singapore government, after extensive review, repealed parts of its criminal law section 377 but retained 377A.
In February 2022, Singapore’s Court of Appeals ruled that the section would remain in law, but could not be applied to prosecute men for having gay sex.
The trilingual prime minister delivered his speech in Malay, Mandarin and English, a speech reflecting the diverse demographics in Singapore.
During his speech, Lee addressed long-standing concerns by conservative religious groups and leaders over other related issues such as same-sex marriage, which is currently not legal in the country.
Lee said: “We need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate the traditional customs of our society, and the aspiration to respect and accept gay Singaporeans.
“Most Singaporeans would like to keep our society that way. This is also the position of the government,” he said. “We have upheld and strengthened the importance of families through a number of national policies, and we will continue to do so,” he said.
While the social outlook in Singapore is still largely conservative, activists say this is changing, and the government was considering the issues as “the best way forward”.