Repealing 377A is the right thing to do, MPs’ duty to act on the law and not the courts’: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE – Consensual sex between adult men does not raise concerns about law and order and hence should not be looked at as a criminal issue, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament on Monday.

Furthermore, Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises such acts, harms gay people in Singapore, he said during the debate on repealing the law.

He added that there has been a clear risk of the law being struck down in the courts and if Parliament allowed this to happen, MPs would be avoiding their duty and the outcome would be worse for Singaporeans.

He said: “So I say, the time has come for us to remove Section 377A, because it humiliates and hurts gay people.

“Most gay people do not cause harm to others, they just want to live peacefully and quietly and be accepted as part of society the same as any other Singaporean.”

Mr Shanmugam said gay Singaporeans do not deserve to be stigmatised for their sexual orientation.

He added: “To a gay person, even if Section 377A is not enforced, it is there: memorialised in law, a sword hanging over his head, a daily reminder that every time he engages in private sexual activity behind closed doors in the sanctity of their bedrooms, he is nevertheless a criminal.

“We have to ask: is it fair that gays have to live in this way?”

He said this is not a situation that Singaporeans should accept, even if they personally disagree with homosexuality. He added that even many of those who do not want the law to be repealed do not want it enforced.

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Mr Shanmugam said for this reason, the law should no longer be on the books and repealing it makes it clear that gay people are not criminals.

He was speaking in a wide-ranging debate on repealing the law that over 30 MPs are expected to speak in, following an announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally in 2022 that the Government would remove the law which has stood since colonial times.

At the time, PM Lee added that the Government would also amend the Constitution to ensure that the legal definition of marriage defined as between a man and a woman would be left to Parliament and not the courts.


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