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LGBTQ community unlikely to 'seek same-sex marriage or to redefine families', should 377A be repealed

LGBTQ community unlikely to 'seek same-sex marriage or to redefine families', should 377A be repealed

File photo of wedding rings. (Photo: AFP/Jay Directo)

SINGAPORE: Should a law criminalising sex between men be repealed, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community's immediate priorities will unlikely be to seek same-sex marriage or to redefine families, non-profit organisation Oogachaga said on Monday (Aug 1).

"For Oogachaga and, to the best of our knowledge, others in the local LGBTQ community, there are no immediate plans to mount legal challenges to redefine marriage as it presently stands in the Women's Charter," executive director Leow Yangfa added.

He was responding to queries from CNA, after Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on Saturday that the Government was looking at how to safeguard the current legal position on marriage while it considers the next steps for Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalises sex between men. Singapore's current legal position on marriage is defined under Section 12 of the Women's Charter as being between a man and a woman; same-sex marriages are considered void.

Mr Shanmugam was giving an update on the Government's efforts to seek views on 377A, a week after a gathering of 1,200 people was held to call for the "protection" of families, marriages and children in relation to a possible repeal of the law.

But Mr Leow said that "when 377A is repealed, hopefully in the near future", the community will instead prioritise providing support for fellow LGBTQ Singaporeans.

“Regarding the status of marriage, we are unsure how else the Government can safeguard ‘the current legal position on marriage’ from being challenged in the courts,” he said.

“The current position is already clearly instituted in legislation.”

Pink Dot SG, the non-profit movement behind the annual LGBTQ event, said that on matters relating to marriage and families, it acknowledges that while attitudes are shifting, society has not yet reached a consensus.

“We know that such a milestone will only come about through education and changing hearts and minds,” added spokesman Clement Tan. “The Government itself has acknowledged that policies should reflect changing norms.

“We only hope that the changes they are contemplating will leave space for society to continue having good-faith conversations on these issues.”

MAN-WOMAN UNION IS THE NATURAL FAMILY UNIT: RELIGIOUS GROUP

On Monday, the Alliance of Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of Singapore (APCCS) told CNA that it “affirms the need to carefully balance different views in society while avoiding the destabilisation of social norms”.

“We support the view that the man-woman union is the natural family unit and deserving of institutional support,” it said. “There needs to be public policies or legislation to keep this as the norm. Currently, S377A is one of such.”

While APCCS agreed that LGBTQ individuals should be able to live their lives free from the fear of harassment, it also said that it supports the retaining of Section 377A "until and unless sufficient safeguards and policies are in place across all affected ministries”.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore also said on Sunday that its concern is for marriage to remain between a man and woman, should 377A be repealed.

"The fruitfulness of marriage also necessitates that marriage must be open to procreation," it said.

The Archdiocese said it supports the Government’s clear articulation of its position on marriage, and is assured that Singapore is looking at safeguarding the current position of the law.

Mr Shanmugam on Saturday said that authorities have had “extensive discussions” so far with different religious leaders, grassroots leaders, Singaporeans from all walks of life, as well as representatives of the LGBTQ groups.

“Many agree that men who have sex with each other should not be thrown into prison. Gay sex should not be criminalised,” he said. "At the same time, most do not want any decriminalisation to cause other major changes.”

In particular, most people want the current position on marriage to be retained, the minister added.

Source: CNA/ga(jo)

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