S'pore government introduces bill to repeal Section 377A of Penal Code

First reading in Parliament.

Ashley Tan | October 20, 2022, 03:06 PM

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The government has introduced a bill to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code and decriminalise sex between men.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced the decision to repeal the law during this year's National Day Rally in August.

Prior to that, the government had consulted various stakeholders extensively before making the decision, according to a joint press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Minister for Home Affairs and Law introduced the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill for its first reading in Parliament.

Two reasons

The government gave two reasons for the repeal.

Firstly, while Singapore remains a "conservative society", attitudes towards homosexuality have "shifted appreciably" and gay people are now "better accepted" here, especially among the younger generation.

Most people "accept that a person's sexual orientation and behaviour is a private matter, and that sex between men should not be a criminal offence".

Therefore from the national point of view, sex between consenting adults does not raise any law-and-order issues.

Secondly, based on the recent Court of Appeal decision on Section 377A, the government noted that there is "significant risk" of Section 377A being struck down by the Courts in a future challenge.

This can be done so on the grounds that it breaches the equal protection clause in Article 12 of the Constitution.

"It would be unwise and irresponsible for Parliament to ignore this risk and do nothing," the government stated.

The bill will be debated in Parliament at a future sitting in Nov. 28, 2022.

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