GLAAD AND LOCAL ADVOCATES RESPOND TO SINGAPORE RULING DECLINING TO OVERTURN COLONIAL-ERA STATUTE CRIMINALIZING GAY RELATIONSHIPS

February 28, 2022

 

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, along with advocates in Singapore, are responding to the ruling from Singapore’s Court of Appeal declining to repeal a statute criminalizing gay male relationships.

The law, Section 377A, was enacted in 1938 when Singapore was still under British rule. Today Singapore’s highest court ruled it was no longer legally enforceable, but said it was up to Singapore’s Parliament to remove the statute.

GLAAD has been following the case with one of the three plaintiffs who had appealed to rescind it.

Johnson Ong released the following response:

“I am disappointed with the outcome but the ruling does not mean the end of the community’s pursuit for equality. I want to thank my fellow litigants, our respective legal counsels and everyone who has shown us overwhelming support over the years. I want to reiterate the devastating impact of S377A on the mental and physical well-being of the LGBTQ+ community. It encourages discriminatory treatment towards queer people and denies the equal rights and protection that LGBTQ+ Singaporeans deserve. This antiquated law undermines the principle of equality in our modern and diverse society. Although the non enforcement of S377A offers a small step towards the LGBTQ+ community’s freedom from discrimination and oppression, it will take more time before the LGBTQ+ community finds full recognition and acceptance by policymakers and society. It has always been an uphill struggle for the community but we will not stop making progress in our fight for a genuinely open and inclusive Singapore.”

Statement from GLAAD Media Institute Vice President Ross Murray:

"Singapore's ruling upholding the discriminatory S377A is a great disappointment in a country and world that increasingly recognize that LGBTQ people are family, friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens. That it will be legally unenforceable is a small consolation, but one that can be easily stripped away. We will continue to stand with and support LGBTQ people in Singapore and everywhere around the world where LGBTQ people face criminalization, violence, and persecution."  

The ruling from Singapore’s Court of Appeal can be read here.

Singapore is one of 69 countries with laws that criminalize LGBTQ people and their relationships (Section 377A of Singapore’s penal code). Singapore’s censorship law also prohibits "contents which depict or propagate sexual perversions such as homosexuality, lesbianism."