Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong Says Sex Between Men Would No Longer Be Illegal, But ‘Traditional’ Marriage Definition Remains

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong Says Sex Between Men Would No Longer Be Illegal, But ‘Traditional’ Marriage Definition Remains

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently announced on Sunday that the country is eyeing decriminalizing sexual intercourse between two men.

The prime minister, however, insisted that the 'traditional' definition of marriage would remain.

Moving Forward, But Keeping Some Things Intact

Based on an Aljazeera news report, Lee made the announcement during his national day rally appearance, where he revealed his personal belief in the law punishing gay sex.

In what can be viewed as the country's way of moving forward on one social issue but remaining faithful to another, Lee said they would repeal Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code.

At the same time, Lee explained that the country would continue defining marriage as a legal union between a woman and a man, the report said.

The Singaporean prime minister said that the British-era legislation on gay sexual intercourse must go because it is the proper thing to do given the citizens' increasing acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals.

'Not A Law, Order Issue'

In his speech, Lee explained that the sexual act between two consenting males is not something that arouses any security or legal problem.

"Private sexual behavior between consenting adults does not raise any law and order issue. There is no justification to prosecute for it nor to make it a crime," Aljazeera quoted Lee saying.

With the plan to decriminalize sex between men, Lee hopes that the penal code would be "into line" with prevailing social mores in the country.

The Singaporean prime minister also hoped that the legal move would 'bring some relief' to gay people in the nation.

Despite being clear on the government's intention to repeal Section 377A, Lee opted not to provide a specific timeline for its implementation.

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Details of Section 377A

According to the Aljazeera report, the British who ruled Singapore introduced the provision in the 1930s.

Under it, those caught violating the provision could face up to two years of jail time. However, the Aljazeera report noted the penal provision of Section 377A is not actively enforced by Singaporean authorities.

Records show that no one who violated Section 377A has been prosecuted for several decades.

The report added that the provision excludes sexual acts between two females or individuals of other genders.

An Issue Close to Home

According to Aljazeera, the issue of repealing Section 377A is close to home to the Singaporean Prime Minister.

His nephew, Li Huanwu, reportedly belongs to the LGBTQ+ community.

Li is the son of Lee Hsien Yang, the prime minister's estranged brother.

The report revealed that Li tied the knot with his male partner in South Africa three years earlier.

The Aljazeera article said the couple has participated in several Pink Dot events in the past with the parents of Li's partner.

Response of Singapore's LGBTQ+ Community, Churches

Several LGBTQ+ organizations in Singapore have expressed approval of Lee's announcement but said the decision to "rule out" same-sex unions could only encourage gender bias.

The news outlet said at least 20 gay rights activist groups signed a statement expressing apprehension about the prime minister's statement on keeping the traditional definition of marriage.

They, however, praised the move to decriminalize male gay sex, saying it would allow them to 'begin the healing process.'

The group's statement stood in stark contrast with the sentiment of over 80 churches in Singapore.

The leaders of the churches said the move was "extremely regrettable" due to its potential cultural impact on the nation's future generations.

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