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Should Singapore’s Gay Sex Law Be Repealed?

Singapore is a conservative country, its government repeated numerous times when the subject of its gay sex law is getting discussed. The government explained that because of conservative population, it will not decriminalize the country’s gay sex law or at least not in the near future.

On April 12, 2007, Singapore Law Society tells the government that the retention of gay sex laws can’t be justified. The current gay sex law with comments are as follows:

Singapore Penal code section 377 states that – Whosoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which might extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Comments – The term ‘unnatural sex’ has been settled by Singapore courts as to mean sodomy and oral sex. So if the penis goes into another person’s anus or mouth, this clause will apply, even if each are adults and consenting. This could also imply that a heterosexual couple engaging in oral or anal sex may possibly also be committing a criminal act.

377(A) of the exact same penal code went on to state that – Any male person who, in public or private, commits or abets the commission of or procures the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.

This clause is distinctive in that it especially applies to gay males only and not to women or lesbians. The term ‘Gross indecency’ is a wide term which, from previous legal precedents, covers mutual masturbation, indecent physical contact to the groin, or even indecent behavior without physical contact. Once more the law applies even if the acts are completed in between consenting adults, and no matter whether or not the act was committed in private.

Is Singapore’s gay sex law to archaic and needs to be repealed? The Singapore Law Society definitely thinks so when it wrote to the government to overview and to make adjustments to the existing penal codes. It released a statement disagreeing with the Ministry of Property Affair’s proposal to retain the country’s laws against gay sex. Right here is excerpts from some published reports:

The Law Society of Singapore, at the invitation of the Ministry of House Affairs (MHA) last November to comment on the government’s proposed amendments to the Penal Code has advised the government that the retention of s.377A in its present kind can not be justified.

Last November, MHA announced their intention to retain gay sex laws although laws which criminalize anal and oral sex between consenting heterosexual adults will be repealed as portion of Singapore’s first major penal code amendments in 22 years.

Section 377A at present tends to make ‘gross indecency’ amongst two males an offence punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. The Law Society, the specialist association of lawyers in Singapore, which formed an ad hoc committee of 16 members to study the matter has issued a report that stated that the majority of the Council regarded that the retention of section 377A in its present form can’t be justified.

This does not entail any view that homosexuality is morally acceptable, but follows as an alternative from the separation of law and morals and the philosophy that the criminal law’s correct function is to defend other individuals from harm by punishing damaging conduct.

Private consensual homosexual conduct amongst adults does not lead to harm recognizable by the criminal law. As a result, regardless of one’s personal view of the morality or otherwise of such conduct, it must not be made a criminal offence.

In addition, the assurance provided by the Ministry of Property Affairs in the Explanatory Notes to Proposed Amendments to the Penal Code that were initially issued by MHA that prosecutions will not be proactively prosecuted below this section is an admission that the section is out of step with the contemporary world.

The retention of un-prosecuted offences on the statute book runs the risk of bringing the law into disrepute. The council also recognized that the above view did not necessarily represent the views of its members collectively. A significant minority of Council members as well as members of the Law Society at big has an opposing view, which strongly supports the retention of section 377A gay sex law of the Singapore Penal Code.

They took the view that the criminal law can and ought to be deployed to define what the majority or a considerable proportion of society think to be unacceptable conduct even when it requires spot in private between consenting adults, and that there are sufficient jurisprudential and logical grounds for this. Differing views had been expressed on the constitutionality of section 377A.

In other jurisdictions, legal discrimination based on sexual orientation has been regarded as against constitutional guarantees of equal protection. The council did not come to a concluded view on the constitutionality of section 377.

So in this nation, engaging in gay sex is a criminal offence with imprisonment as a type of punishment, at least for the time getting until the penal code is revised.

Chris Chew is a researcher. A lot more articles at
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