Social Issues

Singapore surveys legality of gay relationships

Singapore, Mar 23 (EFE).- Singapore conducted a survey to gauge popular sentiment about the possible repeal of section 377A of the penal code, which criminalizes gay relationships and which a court decided not to revoke last month.

“This survey is open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Your response will be shared with the relevant agencies and could be used by the government for changes and updates to regulations,” said a statement by Reach, the government agency in charge of surveys.

The online survey that concluded Wednesday had an “overwhelming” reception, according to Reach, and was answered by more than 30,000 people, above the average of other surveys, according to the Straits Times newspaper.

Some questions directly asked about section 377A, inherited from the British colonial period and which criminalizes homosexual relations between men: one of them asked the respondent to consider whether the regulation should be “revoked,” “maintained,” “modified” or if it was “indifferent.”

The poll launched Tuesday comes less than a month after Singapore’s appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that had dismissed a constitutional claim against the law, which carries penalties of up to two years in prison for men who engage in “acts of gross indecency” with another man.

Shortly after the judicial decision, lamented by the island’s LGTBI community, Justice Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, said the government was carefully considering “the best path from now on in terms of the law,” which authorities said is not a threat because it isn’t applied.

“We must respect the different points of view, consider them carefully and talk to all groups,” the minister said in a Mar. 3 parliamentary speech.

The survey also inquires into the population’s perception of the integration of the LGTBI community. It includes options such as “I feel that they are accepted,” or “I support the LGTBI community and its cause,” followed by five possible answers that vary between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree.”

Singapore has been fighting for the repeal of section 377A for years, more vigorously since India, where it also existed, revoked it in 2018, although authorities have so far ruled it out, even arguing that its removal would lack popular support. EFE


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