UPDATE (26 AUGUST): This story has been updated to reflect an amended statement by the Singapore Buddhist Federation.
SINGAPORE — "Peaceful acceptance" of differing views can be the foundation for a more inclusive society, said the Singapore Buddhist Federation (SBF) in response to the upcoming repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code.
Its statement comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during the National Day Rally 2022 on Sunday that the government will repeal the colonial-era law that criminalises sex between men.
Calling on Thursday (25 August) for Singaporeans to "move forward with middle-ground dialogue to prevent further polarisation and division" among them, SBF noted that the debate on the divisive law dates back to 2007.
"In recent years, increasing polarity in views has been the cause of animosity and discontent dividing advocates and opponents of this matter," said SBF.
Instead of a zero-sum game, more conversations and deeper understanding based on shared experiences should be facilitated in order to ease any tensions, it added.
A united society is needed more than ever to overcome the challenges of unprecedented international crises and geopolitical tensions, according to SBF.
Echoing other religious bodies, SBF expressed gratitude for the proposed repeal in tandem with a deepening of marital and family values.
"Wholesome faith and gratitude in relationship building – including filial piety – are core to the practical practice of the Buddha's teachings," it added.
Singapore Buddhist Federation urges 'peaceful acceptance' over Section 377A https://t.co/hBqT96mafP
(UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect an amended statement by SBF.) pic.twitter.com/DZSeVLUKwH
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Three other Buddhist-affiliated groups also issued statements on Wednesday on the issue.
The proposed repeal of 377A is "a milestone in building a more equal and harmonious Singapore", Buddhist Fellowship said. "The Buddha's teaching of empathy and compassion for all living beings encourages us to develop understanding and care for all communities regardless of their gender, race, religion, language, or sexual orientation."
The non-sectarian Buddhist organisation said it followed this teaching when it issued a statement in 2018 calling for a repeal of "any discriminatory law". It also hopes for peace and understanding among families and a more inclusive Singapore.
A joint statement by Handful of Leaves and Rainbodhi SG addressing members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Singapore as well as allies and friends, said it "rejoiced" over the repeal.
"As your friend on this path of peace, we'd like to extend our loving-kindness to you and your loved ones," the statement added.
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