Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam restated the Government’s stand to keep Section 377A of the Penal Code — which criminalises sex between men — at a meeting with a group of church leaders last Friday, according to the group’s chair, Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong.
Mr Shanmugam said on his Facebook page yesterday that Mr Khong had written to him asking for a meeting after he met the women gay rights’ group, Sayoni, in late November.
Writing on the church group’s Facebook page about its meeting with Mr Shanmugam, Mr Khong said the minister “explained the multiple viewpoints on the topic, his engagement with different groups, and how their viewpoints differed” with that of the 100-strong informal church network, LoveSingapore.
“In response to our query, the minister stated that the position of the Government on S377A is as set out by the Prime Minister in Parliament in 2007,” he added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had spoken about the need to uphold S377A due to, among other things, the conservative nature of Singapore society.
He reiterated this position at an Institute of Policy Studies conference last month, saying Singaporeans are unlikely to reach any consensus on gay rights for now.
TODAY’s attempts to reach Mr Khong for further comments yesterday were unsuccessful.
The debate on S377A was stirred up again recently following legal challenges to the law’s constitutionality — the court’s ruling on two cases are pending.
Last month, Mr Khong read out a prepared statement urging the Government to keep S377A to Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong after he passed by the Faith Community Baptist Church during his regular walkabout in his Marine Parade constituency. News of this led many Singaporeans, including gay activists and Christians, to express opposing views on the issue, both online and to their Members of Parliament.
It also emerged subsequently that LoveSingapore had reportedly been planning to mobilise over 40,000 Christians to oppose a repeal of the law, even as a petition urging a similar view was gaining ground online. The petition closed with over 11,000 signatures last month.
Discussions on the issue also died down after the Attorney-General’s Chambers reminded the public on Jan 22 that public comments on the constitutionality of S377A could be deemed as sub judice — Latin for “under judgment” — given the two pending High Court cases.
NG JING YNG