Singapore lifts ban on homosexuality

In a TV speech, the Prime Minister of Singapore announced that homosexuality will no longer be illegal. His government overturns a colonial British law banning gay sex. At the same time however, legalization of same-sex marriage seems further away than ever.
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This "section 377A" of the criminal code has been a controversial passage for some time. LGBT+ activists point to its discriminatory nature, while conservatives believe it reflects their country's values. Companies also got involved in the discussion, often pointing out that it is more difficult for them to attract talent because of the ban on gay sex.

After a long discussion, the government has decided to put a stop to the passage, much to the relief of LGBT+ activists in the country. Homosexuality was punishable by law, but it hadn't been enforced for a long time. Yet activists have been trying to get the law out of the code for years.

"We've finally done it, and we're elated that this discriminatory, antiquated law is finally going to be gone. There's a feeling it might have taken a little too long, but it had to happen, you know. Today we're very, very happy," LGBT+ activist Johnson Ong told the BBC.

But at the same time, there is an outraged response to the same speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. To reassure conservative voices in the country, his government will enshrine the notion of "marriage" more firmly in the law, meaning it is between one man and one woman.


The ban on homosexuality is not unique to Singapore. Many former British colonies have a law prohibiting this, often referred to as the number 377. Under Singaporean law, the prohibition is worded as follows: "Any male person who, publicly or privately, commits or instigates an act of gross indecency towards another male person, (...) shall be punished with imprisonment which may be extended to 2 years".

With the repeal of the law, Singapore follows several former colonies, such as India and Thailand, where the law disappeared from criminal law.

Yet Britain's colonial past still leaves its mark on global LGBT+ rights. In two-thirds of the countries where homosexuality is banned, the British were once in power, the BBC reports.

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