Section 377A: Singapore Muslims must maintain their values, be kind to others – Muis

A woman wrapped in the rainbow flag is seen at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore’s annual gay pride rally on 1 July, 2017. (Reuters file photos)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the government will repeal S377A, a colonial era law that criminalises sex between men during the National Day Rally on 21 August, 2022. (Reuters file photos)

SINGAPORE — Muslims must remain firm in their religious values even as legislative changes such as the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code are made, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) on Monday (22 August).

"As mentioned by Mufti (Nazirudin Mohd Nasir), in this broader context, a particular change in law or legislation does not mean that our way of life will change too, and it is our personal duty to ensure that," said the religious body in its guidance to the Muslim community on LGBTQ+ issues in Singapore.

Its statement comes a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the government will repeal S377A, a colonial era law that criminalises sex between men, during National Day Rally 2022.

In tandem with the repeal, Singapore plans to amend its Constitution to prevent the definition of marriage from being challenged in the courts, he added.

"Our main concern is not so much the laws themselves but their impact on society and what the society holds dear to," Muis said. One such concern, echoed by other religious bodies, pertains to efforts in strengthening the institution of marriage between a man and a woman in Singapore.

"We have called on the government to consider our position as it deliberates on laws that are appropriate for Singapore in preserving and strengthening the institution of marriage," it added.

Islamic teachings emphasise the building of families through marriage between man and woman as the basic foundation of society. They forbid all other forms of sexual relationships and unions.

Be understanding to others

The religious body stressed that the Muslim community has the right to preserve its religious and family values especially when these are directly challenged or disputed.

Respect for the values that the Muslim community holds dear in practicing its faith must be shown in any form of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) advocacy, it added.

"The Muslim community’s values, traditions, and way of life need to be managed carefully in the context of social changes and developments in modern society and secular systems," said Muis.

But it acknowledged that differences in worldviews and values are to be expected, especially as public discourse and portrayals of LGBTQ lifestyle and its values have become more commonplace.

Muis also noted in its advisory that one’s sexuality "is not the only factor that define us as human beings".

"Some profess the Muslim faith and worship the same God as all Muslims do, but face their own struggles, trauma, and pain as they seek to privately reconcile their faith and sexuality. One who proclaims and practises the basic tenets of the religion is a member of the Muslim community," it added.

"Such individuals deserve the dignity and respect like everyone else, and our religious values of compassion and kindness demand of us to not turn away from them, and not to turn them away from their faith."

Muis's Asatizah, or religious teachers, have been engaging on the LGBTQ issue and many have privately advised individuals who come to them for guidance.

"In this regard, we recognise the need to develop and enhance the capabilities of religious teachers and counsellors, in particular, on how the values and teachings of our faith could be sensitively imparted to such individuals whilst keeping their dignity intact and respecting their confidentiality."

Respect different views

A right balance must be struck to ensure the Muslim community maintains its religious values and remain compassionate in its dealings towards others, Muis said.

The public sphere must remain safe for the mainstream and faith communities to educate members of their own communities in accordance with their belief systems and values, it added.

Differences should be respected, without degenerating into hate speech or "cancelling" others, Muis said.

Muslims will undergo a great test of their empathy, respect, compassion, and principles amid a complex and more open world, it added.

"It is important that we take a considered and civil approach in engaging on this issue and in finding a common understanding on how to move forward as one society amidst a diversity in values and orientations."

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Also check out our Southeast Asia, Food, and Gaming channels on YouTube.

Yahoo Singapore Telegram
Yahoo Singapore Telegram