Attitudes towards same-sex relationships in Singapore have become more favourable in the past three years, especially among young adults. And while the older age group remains largely opposed to same-sex relationships, a significant percentage also reported a softening in their stance.
In 2018, an Ipsos survey found that 55% of Singapore residents support retaining Section 377A.
In 2022, Ipsos made another survey, noting that this figure had dropped to 44%, amid changing attitudes towards same-sex relationships.
Interestingly, a population census conducted in 2020 also revealed that more younger Singaporeans have no religious affiliation.
Correlation does not imply causation but would it be far-fetched to say that religion is the driving force behind the pushback against same-sex relationships?
Respect differences, amen.
Whether you pray for illumination from a higher being or pray for a quickie at a 'spot' where the sun does not illuminates, there should be mutual respect for others' beliefs and differences.
Among the many religious groups that have commented on S377A, the Christian organisations had more pointed arguments against the repeal.
The Alliance of Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of Singapore (APCCS), which represents over 80 local churches, expressed disappointment with the government's decision to repeal Section 377A.
Chairman of APCCS, Yang Tuck Yoong, said:
"The repeal is an extremely regrettable decision which will have a profound impact on the culture that our children and future generations of Singapore will live in."
Other religious groups such as those from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu community were less passive aggressive in their comments, opting for a more compassionate approach.
The Government finding a middle ground
The announcement to repeal S377A last Sunday comes after years of contentious debates and legal challenges from various parties who either argue for and against the law.
S377A, which refers to sexual acts between men but not women and specifies the punishment for violation, reads, “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.”
The government had maintained that while S377A is written in law, it would not be actively enforced in order to reach a “messy compromise” between the conservative majority who want to preserve the sanctity of marriage and family, and top legal professionals, civil activists, the LGBT community and others who have been pushing for its repeal.
Law minister: Repeal is the "right thing to do"
The Government decided to act as it was the right thing to do, Home Affairs and Law minister K Shanmugam said. It would be politically expedient to have "just kept quiet, put on the helmet, go into the bunker, and pretend that nothing is happening, leave it to the courts".
"By taking these steps - and these are not vote-winning steps - it's going to make people unhappy when they believe that a different course of action is the right course of action," said the minister.
It would have been wrong to continue criminalising gay men for their sexuality, he added. "Nobody deserves to be stigmatised because of their sexual orientation. So repealing Section 377A, removing their pain, is the right thing to do."