Singapore to amend constitution to ban same-sex marriage but decriminalize homosexuality

Singapore to amend constitution to ban same-sex marriage but decriminalize homosexuality
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Singapore will not allow same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday, even as it moves to repeal a law that criminalizes sex between gay men.

The government plans to amend the country’s constitution to limit the definition of marriage between a man and a woman and protect the definition from legal challenge.

Marital status is linked to many social policies in Singapore, including access to public housing and adoption. LGBTQ activists in the Southeast Asian country have long criticized the system as discriminatory, and some now fear that the legalization of the marriage definition will entrench it.

Section 377A is headed “Contempts of Justice”. states sex between men is punishable by up to two years in prison.

human rights defenders describe as archaic, discriminatory, and contributing to social stigma by framing members of the LGBTQ community as criminals.

“Section 377A relegates our gay friends and relatives to second-class citizenship by showing that what they do and who they are is bad and wrong,” says Ready 4 Repeal’s website.

The Singapore Court of Appeal in February ruled that 377A was inapplicable – is based on decision Lee said in 2007 that the law would remain on the books, but authorities would not “proactively enforce” it. Deciding otherwise would be “too divisive,” Lee said Sunday, leaving the nation with this “messy compromise.” ” for years.

However, the law looms large in the public debate about LGBTQ issues and has strong symbolic significance for activists, many of whom have campaigned against it for generations.

“It took many people over decades… today we are together to savor this moment,” said advocate Harpreet Singh. constitutional challenge 377A in 2019, he told The Washington Post on Sunday.

Oogachaga, a Singaporean LGBTQ community organization, he said It was “relieving and encouraging” to learn of the cancellation. This “may be a chance to start healing the pain that’s going on,” he said.

Jean Chong, co-founder of Singaporean queer rights organization Sayoni, said Section 377A has caused “immeasurable pain and suffering” for LGBTQ people in the country. Chong said he “deeply regrets” that the repeal of the law should come with additional protections to the government’s definition of marriage.

“These proposed constitutional changes will discriminate against LGBTQ families and partnerships that make significant contributions to Singapore’s economy and society,” Chong said.

Religious groups in Singapore, including the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore and an alliance of Christian organisations, have argued strongly in recent weeks for the government to add protections to the traditional definition of marriage.

In a televised speech, Lee described the government’s two-pronged decision as a compromise that would allow the country to “maintain our existing family social norms.”

“In general, Singapore is a traditional society with conservative social values,” Lee said. “So even as we repeal 377A, we will support and protect the institution of marriage.”

According to information, several dozen countries have legalized same-sex marriages Pew Research Center. Some of them, such as the United States and Taiwan, did so after constitutional problems. Lee said in his speech that his government wants to avoid such difficulties by amending the constitution.

According to him, the courts are not the “correct forum” to resolve the issue. “Judges and courts have neither the expertise nor the mandate to address political issues and rule on social norms and values ​​– because these are fundamentally political issues, not legal issues,” Lee said.

The constitutional amendment “will preserve what I think most Singaporeans still want, and that is to keep the basic family structure of marriage between a man and a woman,” he said, without giving details.

2022 Ipsos survey informed Positive attitudes towards same-sex marriage are growing among Singaporeans. About 50 percent of respondents said they were more accepting of same-sex relationships than they were three years ago.

Rebecca Tan in Thailand contributed to this report.

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