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More than half of Singaporeans support anti-gay law Section 377A

More than half of Singaporeans support anti-gay law Section 377A

Singapore residents attend the city's largest LGBTI event, Pink Dot (Photo: Facebook)

A new survey found 55 percent of Singapore’s residents support Section 377A of the Penal Code.

It comes as both LGBTI and conservative campaigners launched petitions over the law.  Section 377A bans male homosexual sex with a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Independent market researcher, Ipsos Public Affairs, completed the survey over four days in July and August. They asked 750 Singaporean citizens and permanent residents aged 15 to 65 their views on Section 377A.

More than half (55 percent) supported it and only 12 percent said they opposed it. The survey found males and those aged between 55 and 65 were more likely to be in favor of the law.

A more accepting Singapore?

Singapore’s anti-gay law originates from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. India’s Supreme Court dismantled the law last week.

The landmark decision has sparked a fierce debate over Singapore’s similar anti-gay law.

The Ipsos survey also asked if respondents agreed: ‘Singaporeans should be able to participate in same-sex relationships’.

Twenty-eight per cent agreed and 38 percent did not, according to the Straits Times.

This shows a relaxing in attitudes to homosexual relationships. A 2014 survey of 4,000 people in Singapore found 78.2 percent believed same-sex relationships were wrong.

Section 377A ‘perfect candidate for repeal’

As of Tuesday (11 September), more than 26,000 people had signed an online petition to repeal Section 377A. Nearly 90,000 people had signed a petition to keep it.

LGBTI advocates said they were ‘dismayed’ that a Penal Code did not suggest the government review 377A.

‘Section 377A would have been the perfect candidate for such a review and and repeal’, Pink Dot, organizers of Singapore’s largest LGBTI event, said.

‘It is a colonial relic of Victorian values that was left behind by the British from before Singapore’s independence’.

Last week, a Singapore’s minister said it was up to Singapore’s society to decide whether to keep or repeal Section 377A.

‘If you look at the issue, it is a deeply split society’, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Home Affairs, said.

Meanwhile, a veteran Singaporean diplomat suggested the LGBT community mount a legal challenge against the law.

Last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also said he would wait until society changed before altering the law.

In 2014, Singapore’s Court of Appeal rejected a legal challenge that the law violated the constitution.