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Singapore

MHA to consider records of 17 people convicted under Section 377A between 1988 and 2007

Section 377A criminalised sex between men. Parliament voted earlier this week to repeal the law.

MHA to consider records of 17 people convicted under Section 377A between 1988 and 2007

Two men holding hands. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: More than a dozen people who were convicted under a now-repealed law on gay sex could get their criminal records rendered spent, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Wednesday (Nov 30).

Based on the ministry's records, 17 people who were convicted between 1988 and 2007 for consensual, private, homosexual acts between adults are still alive, MHA said, in response to queries by CNA.

On Tuesday, Singapore's Parliament voted to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalised sex between men. 

In his closing speech during the two-day debate, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he would instruct his ministry to consider how the records of a "small number" of people who were convicted between 1988 and 2007 for consensual, private, homosexual acts between adults could be rendered spent.

2007 was the year the Government said it would retain Section 377A but choose not to enforce it.

"The significance of a spent conviction is that the individual will no longer have a criminal record for the spent offence. If asked whether he has a 'criminal record', the person can lawfully answer 'no'," said MHA on Wednesday.

Mr Shanmugam made those remarks in response to a question by MP Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon) who had asked what would happen to individuals with existing records of convictions under Section 377A.

Mr Shanmugam added on Tuesday that for cases that involved non-consenting victims, acts against minors, or sexual acts committed in public, such acts would continue to be offences even after Section 377A was repealed.

"Where egregious acts were committed, like non-consensual acts, or sexual acts against minors, the records are unlikely to be treated as spent," he said.

Offences under Section 377A carried a punishment of up to two years in jail.

Source: CNA/cm

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