Singapore to introduce bill repealing ban on sex between men

Singapore is set to introduce legislation that will repeal the existing legal ban on sex between men, Today newspaper reported.

The proposed repeal of a colonial-era law known as Section 377A will be introduced in parliament after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the initiative in August. He said at the time it was “the right thing to do” and is something most Singaporeans will now accept.

On the parliament order paper, there is an amendment to penal code that’s scheduled for this week’s session that begins today. Section 377A sits under the penal code. The government also has set out plans for a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage currently defined in Singapore as between a man and a woman. 

For a regional financial hub that wants to attract top foreign talent, the repeal may help the city-state become more welcoming for gay tourists and companies that actively support LGBTQ causes. But the government is also seeking to control a divisive issue in Singapore’s multicultural society by striking a balance between members of the LGBTQ community advocating for greater acceptance and the conservative groups pushing back. 

For now, a majority of Singaporeans are against same-sex marriages though there was support for the planned repeal of Section 377A. A recent poll by Blackbox Research found 55% of the respondents said “no” when asked whether they personally support gay marriage while 31% said “yes.”

“A government has a duty both to lead but also to understand the people’s wishes,” Law Minister K Shanmugam told Bloomberg News last month. “On 377A, the repeal, we are trying to forge as much of a consensus as possible and move forward on some social harmony on an issue that has torn asunder the social fabrics in many countries.”  – BLOOMBERG