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LGBTI advocates denounce support for Singapore’s anti-gay law

LGBTI advocates denounce support for Singapore’s anti-gay law

Advocates for LGBTI rights have hit back at religious institutions for supporting Singapore’s anti-gay law, Section 377A.

In the last two weeks both Christian and Islamic organizations have expressed support for the law that punishes gay sex with up to two years in jail.

LGBTI organizations in Singapore and international rights groups denounced comments as wrong. They said the support revealed the discrimination harbored by institutions and dangerously blended politics and religion.

Debate over Section 377A has flared in Singapore since India’s Supreme Court scrapped a similar law and decriminalized gay sex.

The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS) said it supported Section 377A on religious grounds. It warned repealing the law threatened ‘the traditional family unit as the foundation of society’.

Furthermore, PERGAS said abolishing the anti-gay law could also negatively affect population growth.

Organizers of Singapore’s largest LGBTI event, Pink Dot, were quick to call PERGAS out on the comments. ‘Having 377A repealed will not turn straight people gay and/or stop them from pro-creating’, the group wrote on Facebook.

Pink Dot has urged people sign the Ready4Repeal petition to abolish Section 377A.

Archbishop’s comments

Earlier this week, Archbishop William Goh appealed to all Catholics to reject repeal efforts ‘for the future of our families, humanity and society’.

‘By accepting homosexual acts as a social norm, the dreadful consequences for the stability of our families, the well-being of our children, and the risks to the common good will be long-term and irreversible,’ he argued.

The Archbishop said decriminalization could only happen once Parliament put in a place legislation to protect ‘the rights of the majority who favor the traditional family’.

Leow Yangfa of Singapore LGBTI organization, Oogachaga, warned this was a dangerous mix of politics and religion. He also said the Archbishop did not speak for all religious people in Singapore, or all Singaporeans.

‘Why is the Archbishop so interested in the realities of LGBT persons, including LGBT non-Catholics?’ Yangfa asked. ‘Does he feel threatened in some way?’

‘Equal respect’

The Archbishop claimed ‘the Church regards everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, with equal respect’. What’s more, he said he would not object to a repeal ‘if it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals’.

He suggested, however, decriminalization would lead to further demands for equal marriage or same-sex adoption. ‘Will the Church be forced to accept the promotion of homosexual values and lifestyles in our schools?’ he asked. And ‘let transgender persons use bathrooms for those of the opposite sex’.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said it was ‘ludicrous’ of the Archbishop to suggest that he and the church are not discriminating against homosexuals.

‘His laundry list of other “gay rights” issues that he fears if Section 377A is repealed indicates that the Catholic Church in Singapore does not really welcome LGBT persons and their loved ones’, he told Gay Star News.

He said Christian groups are the bulwark backing Singapore’s Section 377A. But, he said, it was surprising to see it expressed openly.

‘Section 377A is an archaic, colonial law that blatantly violates the rights of LGBT people in Singapore’, he said.

‘There is no plausible defense for the continued discrimination and abuses that this law permits’ he said.

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