by Teng Yong Ping
SINGAPORE – Progress Singapore Party (PSP) supports the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code – in principle – the party’s candidate Terence Soon told Yahoo News Singapore.
However, it wanted guarantees that traditional “moral institutions” would be preserved before it would advocate for decriminalisation of homosexuality.
PSP is the latest political party to make known its position on 377A. LGBTQ issues have increasingly become a topic of concern among Singaporeans, but electoral candidates have been mostly silent on the subject during the campaign trail.
Soon, 29, a Singapore Airlines pilot, is contesting in the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC). Yahoo News Singapore asked him for comment after he answered netizens’ queries regarding his thoughts on LGBTQ issues, and 377A, in an online sharing session recently.
When asked for an official stance, a PSP spokesperson said, “We would not object to a repeal of S377A if it is only to remove the criminal punishment against homosexuals. But currently the debate over 377A is not just about criminal punishment. 377A has become a proxy combat zone for other issues like the sanctity of traditional family structures, marriages, parenthood and gender identities. These are long-standing human and moral institutions. So before 377A is removed, there must be guarantees that these institutions remain undisturbed.”
When asked what form the “guarantees” to uphold traditional morals might take, PSP said it could not provide details at this point as they “constituted a wide list, subject to many permutations based on different lifestyle choices”.
When asked about 377A during his presidential electoral campaign in 2011, PSP leader Dr Tan Cheng Bock said then that he accepted homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice”.
The incumbent People’s Action Party’s position on 377A is to retain the law as a moral symbol without enforcing it. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a 2007 parliamentary debate on the issue that Singapore is still a conservative society, and the government would keep 377A in order to preserve “traditional heterosexual family values”.
Workers’ Party leader Pritam Singh said in April last year that the party would not call for the repeal of 377A because there was no consensus within the party’s central executive committee on the issue.
The Singapore Democratic Party’s official stance is that it supports the repeal of 377A.
Local LGBTQ activists have called for homosexuality to be decriminalised, and for an end to discrimination against queer people in Singapore.
Three separate legal challenges against Section 377A of the Penal Code, a law which criminalises sex between men, were dismissed by the High Court in March this year. The court said Section 377A was intended to safeguard public morals and enable enforcement and prosecution of all forms of gross indecency between males.