advertisement

Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > News> Talking Point > End of gay sex ban a small step for Singapore's LGBTQ+ couples

End of gay sex ban a small step for Singapore's LGBTQ+ couples

LGBTQ+ couples, groups say they still face discrimination in public life in Singapore

Shoppers carry shopping bags on Orchard Road in Singapore. The city-state lifted a colonial-era ban on homosexuality earlier this week. Photo for representative purposes only. (Bloomberg)

Listen to this article

Singapore's decision to lift a colonial-era ban on sex between men is long overdue and will not end discrimination of LGBT groups in the city-state, rights activists and members of the gay community have said. On Sunday, Singapore's prime minister announced a repeal of 377A law, which prohibited sex between men. 

Also read: 7 queer Indian voices you should listen to

"It's just a small, little step," Andre Ling, 44, said from his home in Singapore where he lives with his Australian husband and their two-year-old son. "Beyond that, if you're going to have a family or you want marriage and want to be in Singapore and to be treated equally, that's not going to happen." Ling, 44, married Cameron Sutherland, 47, in Australia, where same-sex marriage is legal. But their marriage is not recognised in Singapore so they are not eligible for certain privileges afforded to married couples like subsidised housing. "By coming to Singapore, we knew that our marriage certificate will be like a piece of toilet paper," Ling said.

The treatment of LGBT groups has long been a contentious subject in Singapore, a country of about 5.5 million people. Even though Singapore's 377A, under which offenders can be jailed for up to two years, has not been enforced on consenting adult males for decades, some religious groups wanted the statute to stay, fearing that its repeal may promote homosexuality and challenge traditional family structures.

In a move to assuage some of those concerns, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday his government would protect its definition of marriage, that of being between a man and a woman, from being challenged constitutionally in the courts. "It's a well-struck balance," Daniel Poon, a 55-year-old local resident said. Others didn't see it that way.

"Some people do feel that a lot more can be done," said Bryan Choong, chair of LGBTQ advocacy group Oogachaga, adding that the 377A repeal was "long overdue". Marriage equality is important to many in Singapore's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, and "the doors to that possibility should not be closed", Choong said.

Around 30 countries worldwide have legalised same sex marriage, with Taiwan the only place in Asia to do so.

Also read: How gay employees deal with workplace bullying

Next Story