Larry’s View

Larry’s view on any and everything.

Singaporean Gay Rights-No Rights

September 18, 2007
gay sex laws to stay: singapore govt
Despite efforts to lobby against the retention of gay sex laws in the city-state’s first major penal code amendments in 22 years, the gay community will have to bear double the insult as the laws will sit between proposed laws against necrophilia and bestiality.
Under a Bill introduced in Singapore’s parliament on Monday, current laws criminalising sex between men will be retained although laws criminalising oral and anal sex between heterosexuals will be repealed.

Singapore adopted the Indian Penal Code in 1871 when the citystate was then part of the Straits Settlements which was part of the British Empire. Britain, the former British colony of Hong Kong and Australia have since repealed laws prohibiting sex between men in 1967, 1991 and 1997 (in the state of Tasmania, the last Australian state to do so) respectively. In Asia, only Malaysia and India, both of which are former British colonies, continue to criminalise sex between men.

The proposed amendments, which was made available to the public since Nov 9 last year, will see no change to Section 377A which provides for a jail sentence for up to two years should a man is found to have committed “an act of gross indecency” with another man, either in public or private.

The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, which was read the first time in Parliament on Monday, codifies the existing Section 377A “Outrages on decency” between the new Section 377 “Sexual penetration of a corpse” and Section 377B “Sexual penetration with living animal.”

In April, the Law Society of Singapore said in its official feedback to the proposed amendment of the Penal Code that “the retention of s.377A in its present form cannot be justified” and recommended the section to be repealed.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was quoted as saying in the Straits Times today that public feedback on the issue had been “emotional, divided and strongly expressed,” with the majority calling for the section to be retained.

“MHA recognises that we are generally a conservative society and that we should let the situation evolve,” MHA said.

Ms Indranee Rajah, former chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs, reiterated the MHA’s “assurance” that it would not actively prosecute people under that section.

“But in recognition of the fact that there is still quite a strong majority uncomfortable with homosexuality, the section must stay,” she said.

In April, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew surprised many when he questioned the city-state’s ban on gay sex.

“If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual — because that’s the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes — you can’t help it. So why should we criminalise it?” He told a youth rally.

In a recent International Herald Tribune interview, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said: “China has already allowed and recognised gays, so have Hong Kong and Taiwan. It’s a matter of time. But we have a part Muslim population, another part conservative older Chinese and Indians.”

Other advocates of repeal include Member of Parliament Baey Kam Keng and Nominated Members of Parliament Siew Kum Hong who both spoke against keeping Section 377A on the books at a public forum on the issue in July.

Another amendment that has attracted intense debate is Section 375 which defines spousal rape. Under the proposed amendment, a man is deemed to have not broken any laws if he rapes his wife unless she is living separately from him, has filed for a separation/divorce or applied for a protection order from the court.

Other amendments include the proposal to criminalise “sexual grooming” of minors under 16 by adults above 21 years of age who have “met or communicated with the minor on 2 or more previous occasions” as well as Singaporeans who have sex with minors under 18 locally and overseas (Section 376). Local media have reported that around 600 men travel from Singapore to the nearby Indonesian island of Batam each weekend for sex with teenaged girls.

The second reading is scheduled for Oct 17 when Parliament will debate on the Bill. ae

September 19, 2007 - Posted by | Gay Issue & Rights-Overseas

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