MARUAH’s statement on the Singapore Government’s intention to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code

We welcome Singapore’s repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally 2022.

We appreciate that the Singapore Government has recognised that societal attitudes towards gay people have changed over time.

Section 377A came into force in 1938 after being adapted from a 19th century Indian penal code. This was aimed at targeting rampant male prostitution during the British colonial rule which was many years ago. India repealed that law in 2018. It is clear that the environment has changed since the 1930s and the legislation must change to keep up with the times.

Section 377A has been seen as a symbol of discrimination and stigma against LGBT people here in Singapore. Such discrimination undermines the human rights principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 1 of the UDHR opens with ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’

While Singapore has taken the first step towards protecting the human rights of LGBT people by repealing Section 377A, this is just the start of a long journey towards strengthening human rights protection for LGBT. We hope that the Singapore Government will go from strength to strength in this respect from hereon.

This is a step in Making Equality Meaningful.

Issued by MARUAH Singapore

21 August 2022

About MARUAH Singapore

We are a Singapore human rights NGO.

MARUAH means Dignity in Malay, Singapore’s national language. Human rights are all about maintaining, restoring and reclaiming one’s dignity at the individual, regional and international level.

We seek to:

  • promote and raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of human rights and human rights and related issues at the national, regional and international levels, in Singapore, ASEAN and elsewhere
  • provide a civil society perspective on human rights and related issues at the national, regional, and international levels
  • advocate for and work towards the respect for and upholding of human rights in accordance with international and other norms
  • foster national, regional, and international co-ordination and development of all activities in relation to human rights and related issues facilitate the education, participation and
  • engagement of persons, groups and organisations in Singapore with respect to human rights and related issues.

MARUAH is also the Singapore focal point for the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism. The Working Group has national representatives from all of the founding Member States of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Working Group is an NGO officially recognised in the ASEAN Charter as a stakeholder in ASEAN.

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