Nice news for the LGBT community, Singapore’s parliament decriminalized sex between men on Tuesday while also amending the constitution to prevent legal challenges that in other nations have resulted in the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The actions come at a time when other Asian nations, such as Taiwan, Thailand, and India, are recognizing more rights for the LGBT community.
Activists applauded the repeal but expressed disappointment with the constitutional amendment because it prevents citizens from bringing legal challenges to matters such as the definition of marriage, the family, and policies related to them because these matters will only be decided by the executive and legislature.
The government argued that such judgments should not be made by the courts in its defense of altering the constitution. The current legal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman has not been altered, and neither Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong nor his successor intend to do so.
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam declared this week in parliament, “We will attempt and maintain a balance…to sustain a stable society with conventional, heterosexual family values, but with space for LGBTQ+ members to live their lives and contribute to society.”
Due to the People’s Action Party’s parliamentary dominance, both the repeal and the constitutional change were approved by a resounding majority. The new laws’ implementation date is yet undetermined.
The modifications do, however, provide future legislatures the option to incorporate same-sex unions in the definition of marriage.
It was a historic moment, according to Bryan Choong, chair of the LGBTQ advocacy group Oogachaga, for those who have been fighting for the repeal of Section 377A for the past 15 years. Nevertheless, he continued, LGBT families and couples “have the right to be recognized and protected.”
In Singapore, attitudes toward LGBT issues have recently shifted toward a more liberal stance, especially among young people, though religious groups still hold conservative views. In 2018, about 42% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 approved of same-sex marriage, up from 17% just five years earlier, according to a survey by the Institute of Policy Studies.