Singapore’s anti-gay law Section 377A stigmatizes men who have sex with men (MSM) leading to cases of HIV, according the Action for AIDS (AFA) Singapore.
The NGO voiced support for the ‘Ready4Repeal’ movement seeking to end the law. Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalizes sex between men. Those found guilty face two years in prison.
‘We firmly believe that the repeal of Section 377A will significantly strengthen HIV and STI control programmes in Singapore’ said Professor Roy Chan, AFA’s president. ‘Not just for the gay and other homosexual men, but indeed for everyone’, he added.
Section 377A stigmatizes and discriminates MSM, Chan said. ‘Many MSM fear that if they go for HIV testing, they will have to reveal they engage in illegal sexual activity’, he said. MSM is a key population in new HIV cases.
What’s more, non-MSM are deterred from testing for fear of being suspected to be MSM when they go for an HIV test.
Section 377A was stifling prevention campaigns and research, the professor said. The law and surrounding stigma prevents effective HIV and STI education in schools, mass media campaigns, and community organizations to support MSM and the LGBTI community.
Section 377A debate
Debate has been raging over Singapore’s Section 377A. Earlier this month, India’s Supreme Court dismantled similar colonial-era legislation and decriminalized gay sex.
Since then, More than 40,000 LGBTI rights supporters have signed an online petition to repeal the law. Meanwhile, about 100,000 people have signed a petition maintain the rights-abusing law.
Last week, a Singapore DJ filed a High Court challenge against Section 377A. He and his lawyers are arguing the law is unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, the Catholic church in Singapore said Section 377A ‘should not be repealed under the present circumstances’.