Singapore’s home affairs minister says it’ll be up to the public to decide whether to legalise gay sex

© Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Being caught having gay sex can be punishable by up to two years in prison.

Earlier this week, India’s Supreme Court made a landmark ruling which saw them overturn Section 377 and legalise gay sex in the country. In the wake of the ruling, talk has turned as to which country will be the next to follow suit.

And now, Singapore’s home affairs and law minister, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, has said that it is up to society to decide whether they to will remove their own Section 377A.

Responding to a question in the wake of India’s ruling, he said: “If you look at the issue, it is a deeply split society.

“The majority are opposed to any change to Section 377A. They are opposed to removing it. Can you impose viewpoints on a majority when [the issue is] so closely related to social value systems?

“I think society has got to decide which direction it wants to go. And the laws will have to keep pace with changes in society and how society sees these issues.”

When asked what his personal view was, Shanmugam said that care should be taken against criminalising certain lifestyles, but that it wasn’t his job to impose his views onto others.

Shanmugan’s views are similar to those of Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who last year told BBC’s HARDtalk: “My personal view is that if I don’t have a problem — this is an uneasy compromise — I’m prepared to live with it until social attitudes change.”

And it seems that acceptance is on the rise in the governmental offices of Singapore. One of the country’s most senior diplomats, Tommy Koh, called on the LGBTQ community to help push for the decriminalisation of gay sex.

Writing on Facebook, Koh wrote: “I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A.”

Koh’s comments were quickly echoed by Janadas Devan, Singapore’s chief of government communications, who wrote: “Speaking personally, I support Tommy’s position. 377A is a bad law; it is bad law. Sooner or later, it will go. Pray sooner rather than later.”

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