PERGAS says it does not support repeal of gay sex law

PERGAS says it does not support repeal of gay sex law

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Although not enforced, Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalises sex between men, with offenders facing up to two years’ jail. (Photo: Lianne Chia)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS) said on Wednesday (Sep 19) that it does not support the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men. 

PERGAS said that its stand is based not only on religious grounds, but also due to its "concern towards moral and social values, that can affect the family institution as well as the fabric of society". 

"The repeal of this Act can cause several worrying implications. Among them, it will threaten the importance of the traditional family unit as the foundation of society," PERGAS said, adding that Islam emphasises on the formation of a family through legal marriage between a man and a woman. 

The statement from PERGAS also said that if Section 377A is repealed, it would "affirm and normalise the LGBTQ lifestyle", which conflicts with the government's policy of building strong family units to strengthen the fabric of society. 

"It may also cause confusion among the younger generation regarding morality and moral values. PERGAS is of the opinion that if the Act is to be repealed, it will further affect the population growth of this country, which we understand is a major concern of the government," the association said. 


In its statement, PERGAS called on the Muslim community to "uphold the values of humanity as taught in Islam", and extend kindness to all, including those from the LGBTQ community. 

"One should never isolate, exclude nor insult those who feel they belong to the LGBTQ community. Instead, PERGAS calls upon Muslims to approach them with kindness, and to support them to return to the true teachings of Islam," it said. 

PERGAS' statement mirrors that of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCSS). The council said in a statement last week that it does not support the repeal of the law as it believes the "homosexual lifestyle is not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole". 

On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Singapore, Most Reverend William Goh, said in a letter to the Catholic community that the law should not be repealed under present circumstances. However, he added that he would not object to a repeal of Section 377A if "it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals".

The debate on Section 377A was reignited after India scrapped its ban on gay sex earlier this month. Veteran diplomat Tommy Koh, who is Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commented on a Facebook post on the Indian ruling by encouraging Singapore's gay community to “try again” to challenge 377A after the previous legal challenge in 2014 had failed.

Earlier this month, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had said: "Singapore ... on this issue, it is a deeply split society. The majority oppose to any change to section 377A - they are opposed to removing it.

“A minority - I have to say, a growing minority - want it to be repealed. The Government is in the middle."

On Sep 10, a man filed a court challenge against Section 377A, saying that it is inconsistent with parts of the Constitution concerning liberty of a person and equal protection.

Source: CNA/ng(ra)

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