Decision on Section 377A ‘a matter for Parliament’: Shanmugam

Decision on Section 377A ‘a matter for Parliament’: Shanmugam

K Shanmugam
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam speaks to reporters at an event on Saturday (Sep 8). 

SINGAPORE: Any decision on Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code is “a matter for Parliament”, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Saturday (Sep 8) at a Ministry of Home Affairs event.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking to reporters for the second time on the subject, since a landmark ruling by India’s Supreme Court on Thursday repealing a British colonial-era ban on gay sex.

“In the Singapore context, the Section 377A was challenged as being unconstitutional some years ago, 2014. The Supreme Court decided that it was constitutional, it was not invalid. So whether you decide to keep it, whether you decide to repeal it, amend it, it’s a matter for parliament.”

Mr Shanmugam added that depending on legislation, “public opinion is often relevant” when it comes to public policy making.

Under section 377A, a man found to have committed an act of "gross indecency" with another man could be jailed for up to two years.

On Friday, Mr Shanmugam said that while there is a growing minority who want 377A to be repealed, Singaporeans remain "deeply split" on the matter. 

“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“A minority - I have to say, a growing minority - want it to be repealed.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,” he added.

His comments came after diplomat Tommy Koh, who is Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had responded to the Indian ruling by encouraging Singapore's gay community to “try again” to challenge 377A. Previous legal challenges in 2014 had failed.

Professor Koh made the comments in response to a Facebook post by a senior Singapore-based academic on India's landmark ruling on Thursday. The law does not apply to homosexual acts between women.

Source: CNA/mn

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