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Singapore is lifting its colonial-era ban on gay sex between men because 'attitudes have shifted'

Rachel Lang

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Singapore is lifting its colonial-era ban on gay sex between men because 'attitudes have shifted'

Singapore's Prime Minister has announced that the law criminalising sex between men will be repealed.

During a national address on Sunday, Lee Hsien Loong said that the gay sex ban will be scrapped from the penal code.

He also said it would bring the law into line with current social attitudes and 'provide some relief to gay Singaporeans'.

That being said, the Prime Minister did concede that the Singaporean government does not want 'wholesale changes in our society'.

This means that no changes to the legal definition of marriage is on the horizon for Singaporeans.

"Even as we repeal 377A, we will uphold and safeguard the institution of marriage," Lee said, as per The Guardian.

"Under the law, only marriages between one man and one woman are recognised in Singapore."

The law was introduced in the 1930s under British colonial rule and that 'any act of gross indecency with another male person' could carry up to a two year prison sentence.

The law is not believed to have been enforced for more than a decade.

The Singaporean Prime Minister also said that it was the time to scrap the law as 'attitudes have shifted'.

Singapore had last debated 377A in 2007, when the government 'stopped short of repealing the law' and chose to 'not actively enforce it' instead.

"It would have been too divisive to force the issue then," Lee said on national television during the repeal announcement.

"Now, 15 years later, attitudes have shifted appreciably. While we remain a broadly conservative society, gay people are now better accepted in Singapore, especially among younger Singaporeans.

Credit: Borka Kiss / Alamy
Credit: Borka Kiss / Alamy

The Prime Minister also said that 'Singaporeans still have differing views on whether homosexuality is right or wrong' but that 'most people accept that a person’s sexual orientation and behaviour is a private and personal matter, and that sex between men should not be a criminal offence'.

A joint statement, released by 22 LGBTQ+ groups, expressed relief that the law would finally be changed, describing the news as 'our hard-won victory, a triumph of love over fear'.

"The repeal of section 377A, while long overdue, is a significant milestone and a powerful statement that state-sanctioned discrimination has no place in Singapore," said the statement, as per The Guardian.

The statement called the decision 'a win for humanity'.

Section 377 remains in nations across Asia, including Malaysia, Myanmar and Brunei.

Taiwan and Thailand are the only Asian nations to legally recognise same sex marriage.

Featured Image Credit: prasong takham / Alamy. Zefrog / Alamy Stock Photo.

Topics: LGBTQ, Sex and Relationships, World News

Rachel Lang
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