Singapore’s Half-Hearted Concession to LGBT Rights

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P.Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Sunday that Singapore would repeal a law criminalizing sex between men, which wasn’t all good news for LGBT rights.

In his National Day speech, Lee said that rigidly governed city-states abolished laws because it was “the right thing to do.” However, he also promised to strengthen the protection of marriage as a union between a woman and a man.

“We need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate both the traditional mores of our society and the desire of gays in Singapore to be respected and accepted,” he said.

read more: Homophobia is not an Asian value

Minister of Home Affairs Kashibiswanathan Shanmugam Said of Kaikyo Times On Monday, the constitutions of Southeast Asian city-states will be amended, giving legislatures the right to define marriage. I’m here.

LGBT activists say the change will hit them equally hard. “Such a decision would undermine the secular character of the Constitution, codify further discrimination into the Supreme Law, and tie the hands of future Congresses,” more than 20 LGBTQ rights groups said in a joint statement. Stated.

A television screen (R) seen through a residential apartment window showing a live broadcast of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the National Day Rally in Singapore on August 21, 2022.

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Asia’s Conservative Backlash

Indeed, with the repeal of Law 377A, gay sex is 2 years In prison—welcomed. Leow Yangfa, executive director of Singapore’s LGBTQ community organization Oogachaga, said the move “sends an important signal from the government that it is taking a first step towards equality and progress for the LGBTQ community.” ’” he told TIME.

SAFE, an organization of parents, families and friends of LGBTQ people, Said The move was “the beginning of healing for many families.”

But the proposed constitutional amendment has dampened the mood. “We think this is going to hit not only the gay community, but Singapore as a whole,” said Clement Tan, spokesperson for the nonprofit. pink dot SGtells the time.

read more: LGBT in South Korea are eager for anti-discrimination bill

Singapore now joins other places in Asia hoping to please conservative voters and impress progressives.Taiwan made waves when it recognized same-sex unions 2019but its LGBT community faced a pressing problem backlash and endure continued discrimination.Taiwan law impose restrictions Heterosexual couples are not faced.

Thailand took a small step towards marriage equality in June when lawmakers gave the first approval to legalize same-sex marriage.But activists say legislative hurdles remain and the country not alive For an LGBT-friendly image.

activists Improving LGBT Rights in Japan. But he said in June that a court in Japan’s third-most populous city ruled that constitutional freedom to marry only refers to the union of a man and a woman, and that Japan’s freedom to marry Ban Same-sex marriage was therefore constitutional.

Annual supporter participation "pink dot" Public show event in support of the LGBT community at Hong Lim Park, Singapore on June 18, 2022.  (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

A supporter attends ‘Pink Dot’, an annual public show event in support of the LGBT community at Hong Lim Park, Singapore, June 18, 2022.

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

continued discrimination

An Ipsos study published in June found that 45% of Singaporeans Although more open to same-sex relationships than they were three years ago, the same study also showed that 44% were in favor of continuing to criminalize sexual relationships between men. SAFE also states that “institutionalized discrimination against LGBTQ people exists in public housing, education, adoption regulations, advertising standards, and film classifications.”

religious groups reacted badly To abolish 377A. The National Council of Churches of Singapore said the move weakened the law’s role as a “moral symbol.” The organization wants the government to guarantee churches freedom to preach against homosexuality.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore has warned that “the irreversible, slippery path is undermining the fabric of a strong society built on the foundations of holistic family and marriage.”

read more: Being LGBT and Catholic in the Philippines

Pink Dot’s Tan said there may be backlash against the LGBT community and expects the conversation to heat up in the coming weeks as the issue is debated in Congress.

The 377A Act “has hit a lot of LGBTQ people hard,” he says. “But just because it’s repealed doesn’t mean discrimination against LGBTQ people will end any time soon.

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write destination Amy Gunia [email protected].

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