Thousands back petition to maintain Singapore's gay sex ban

A participant holds rainbow flags at the international Rainbow Memorial Run during the inauguration of the Gay Games village at the Hotel de Ville city hall in Paris on 4 August. (PHOTO: Reuters)

An online petition calling for Singapore’s ban on gay sex to be maintained has picked up nearly 58,000 signatures since it was started on Saturday (8 September) afternoon.

Titled “Please Keep Penal Code 377A in Singapore”, the petition was set up on the Change.org website by user “Paul P” and had gathered 57,939 signatures as of 2.20pm on Sunday. Section 377A of the nation’s Penal Code is a piece of British colonial-era legislation that criminalises sex acts between men.

A message on the petition site cited the recent decision by India’s Supreme Court to repeal a similar law and subsequent comments made by “prominent figures” to have the law challenged in Singapore as reasons to “reiterate our position to the Singapore government that we wants the Penal Code 377A to stay”.

“By repealing the section 377A penal code, it would begin to normalise homosexual behaviours as a societal norm and lead to greater push for other LGBT rights in our conservative society as we have seen played out in other western societies today,” said the message.

“We do not think the vocal minority should impose their values and practice on the silent majority who are still largely conservative.”

In comments left on the site, signees cited a variety of reasons for supporting the petition – ranging from wanting to “keep families and Singapore strong and harmonious” to preserving the nation’s societal and religious values.

Snapshots of comments left by signees expressing their support for the maintenance of Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code. (PHOTOS: Screengrabs from Change.org)

While the site did not name any parties, prominent Singaporean diplomat Tommy Koh had commented last Thursday the issue over Facebook and suggested that the country’s gay community “bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A”.

Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam also weighed in on the matter and told the media last Friday that it is up to Singaporean society to decide on where it wants to go with Section 377A – noting that the government is “in the middle” on the issue.

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