Big news for the gay community in Singapore as the prime minister announced in his annual National Day Rally the government’s intention to repeal Section 377A. This is an archaic law that criminalises sex between consenting men. Section 377A has been the main reason why thousands join the Pink Dot movement each year. It’s a call for citizens to repeal a law which makes gay men criminals in this country.
Through the years I’ve joined Pink Dot in person and in spirit (when it was changed to citizens and PRs only). I’ve witnessed these events, and during this pandemic I’ve watched the livestreams with interest. While there’s an outpouring and celebration of love within the LGBTQIA+ community, it is nonetheless a protest. It always has been. (I think this applies very much to the Philippines too, that pride isn’t just a party. It’s a protest.)
Like many of my Singaporean friends, I never thought I’d ever hear the government say those words. “The government will repeal Section 377A and decriminalise sex between men.” What I want to also note was in the prime minister’s speech, multiple mentions as to how gay Singaporeans aspire to contribute to their country. The part about 377A wasn’t a footnote in his speech. He really went on to explain the government’s thinking, where society was before including the origins of 377A, how we need to delicately hear all sides… it was presented with facts, clarity… sorry tbh every time I hear him speak, I can’t imagine him in the same room as D30.
This evening I’ve spoken to two gay Singaporean friends and they both welcome the announcement (with tears). I’ve also read some feedback on Twitter that this only benefits a certain section of the gay community. It sounds like the glass is half empty when, at this moment, I’d rather see it as half full.
PM Lee: ““And we need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate both the traditional mores of our society, and the aspiration of gay Singaporeans to be respected and accepted.”
The repeal of Section 377A is a big step in the right direction.