377A and safeguarding the current legal position on marriage so that it cannot be challenged in court

child, marriage, protection, position, people, government, event, family, 377a, home, man, shanmugan, change, section, time

Many Singaporeans agree that sex between men should not be a crime. But most also do not want the current position of marriage being between a man and a woman to be changed.

The Government is considering how best to balance this, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Saturday (July 30).

What is Section 377A?

The provision of the law in Section 377A makes it a crime for a man, whether in public or in private, to commit any act of “gross indecency” with another man, and carries a jail term of up to two years.

The law, however, is not actively enforced, a position that has been reiterated by the authorities since it was robustly debated in Parliament in 2007.

Mr Shanmugam said that the Government has had extensive discussions with different people on Section 377A of the Penal Code.

The discussions have included religious leaders, grassroots leaders, Singaporeans from different backgrounds, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) groups, and others.

Many agree gay sex should not be criminalised.

“Many agree that men who have sex with each other should not be thrown into prison. Gay sex should not be criminalised,” he said.

Most also want the current postion on marriage to be retained. 

“At the same time, most do not want any decriminalisation to cause other major changes. In particular, most people want the current position on marriage to be retained.”

Current position on marriage

The current position is that the law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“People don’t want that to change,” Mr Shanmugam said. People also do not want any change to the current policies that take reference from this definition of marriage.

“The Government understands this view. We are now considering how best to achieve this balance,” Mr Shanmugam said.

Safeguarding the current legal position on marriage

The Singapore Government is looking at how it can safeguard the current legal position on marriage against challenges in the courts, while it considers the next steps for Section 377A of the Penal Code.

“The two questions we are dealing with are therefore: One, what is to be done with 377A; and two, at the same time, we are also considering how we can safeguard the current legal position on marriage from legal challenges in courts so that it does not get challenged in the courts, like 377A was in a series of cases,” said Mr Shanmugam. 

Moderation, not extreme positions

The LGBT community here has also been vocal in its bid to repeal S377A, with the most high-profile event being the annual Pink Dot SG rally. Attendees this year were urged to speak up for the change they want to see in Singapore.

On July 23, about 1,200 people took part in the event called Protect Singapore. It was organised by Mr Jason Wong and Mr Mohamed Khair Mohamed Noor, who argued that retaining S377A was needed to protect families, the institution of marriage, children and freedom.

According to the organisers, the event was attended by Singaporeans of all races and backgrounds, including young people in their 20s.

In a Facebook post on the event, Mr Jason Wong, a former senior civil servant, and the founder of the Yellow Ribbon Project and the Dads for Life movement said:

Our event was oversubscribed, with hundreds on the waitlist despite attempts to cancel it – Eventbrite pulled our listing just 5 days before without letting us appeal.
 
We’ve been relatively restrained in the face of an intolerant, vocal minority that seeks to overturn the order in all areas of society – be it marriage, education, businesses, or beliefs, while demonising all those who disagree as “bigots” or “haters,” instead of engaging us with good faith.
 
𝗪𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗯𝗲 𝘀𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗻𝗼 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲.
 
We urge the Government to maintain the current political package and not to repeal Section 377A 𝘂𝗻𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗳𝗲𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 for our marriages, families, and freedom of conscience. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗱𝗲𝘀 𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝗻-𝘄𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻.
 
We were moved by over a dozen brave souls, formerly of the LGBT community, who were also willing to share their experiences.
 

Mr Shanmugam called for moderation from both sides and for them “to avoid extreme positions and demands”.

These events illustrate what the Government has been saying for a long time: that if one side pushes too hard, then there will be pushback, he said.

This has happened in many countries. “If it happens here in Singapore, and we are a very small place, the ruptures will tear our social fabric apart, cause a lot of harm,” he said.

This is why the Government has been advocating moderation and to not push positions that can damage society, he added.

My view

Marriage must be defined with children in mind. 
 
The natural family unit with children is produced only by a man-woman union. That’s how humans have evolved. If you want children, you need to be married or your children will be illegitimate.
 
It’s a callous attitude to treat children and unborn babies as commodities to be passed around with the superfluous argument that since there are so many failed marriages, we can just let any 2 people who can bring up a child well adopt the child.
 
People have an innate need to know who they are, where they come from. Children have been known to be traumatised by the discovery that they are adopted. Some experienced a loss of identity. Some spend time trying to discover who their birth parents, are and why they were given up for adoption. Some never found closure.
 
Children are entitled to be born to and raised by their biological father and mother. The answer to dysfunctional homes is to provide the support that the family needs to strengthen the home, help them sought out their challenges so as to give the child the best home in which to grow and flourish.
 
MSF has a foster programme where the child is fostered out for a period of time while the family is being helped. The goal is to eventually return the child to his/her biological parents.
 
There are so many unwanted children in the world? The answer to this is to strengthen the biological home – including single-parent homes like unwed mothers or divorcees – so that there are not so many unwanted children in the world
 
More than ever, the family is under stress from the demands of work and life.
 
More than ever, the marriage institution defined by a man-woman union must be strengthened so that children including those yet to be conceived, yet to be born will be given the best chance to be raised by their biological parents. This is their unspoken right.
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