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Singaporeans want to keep anti-gay law even if it is not enforced, survey says

Singaporeans want to keep anti-gay law even if it is not enforced, survey says

Pink Dot 2018

Most Singaporeans back the city-state’s anti-gay law, even though it is rarely enforced, according to a survey published this week.

Debate flared recently in Singapore over Section 377A, which criminalizes gay sex with up to two years in prison.

Public petitions to both repeal and retain the law were launched since India dismantled a similar colonial-era law in September. The Supreme Court ruled Section 377 was unconstitutional and enshrined equality for LGBTI Indians.

But, according to a survey by Blackbox Research, Singapore still backs the law.

The survey quizzed 1,000 Singapore residents. One question was: ‘Singapore should keep Section 377A even if it is not enforced. Do you agree?’

Forty-two percent of people strongly agreed or agreed with the statement.

Nineteen percent, however, strongly disagreed or disagreed. The remaining 40 percent expressed a neutral stance.

Both male and female respondents answered similarly, Yahoo reports.

Older people were more likely to be in favor of 377A, however.

Only 28 percent from the15-24 age group strongly agreed or agreed with the statement. On the other hand, 48 percent of those 50 years old and above agreed.

Debate over 377A

In September, a petition in support of Section 377A concluded with 109,000 signatures.

In response, LGBTI advocates launched a petition asking the government to repeal the law. Veteran diplomat Tommy Koh backed the petition. It garnered roughly 50,000 signatures.

Singapore is a socially conservative city-island state in South-east Asia. It has a population of about 5.6 million people. During the debate, both Christian and Islamic organizations expressed support for the anti-gay law.

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’.

Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, William Goh, appealed to all Catholics to reject repeal efforts ‘for the future of our families, humanity, and society’.

LGBTI advocates in the city responded by calling for religious organizations to remain outside of politics.

Significantly, local DJ, Johnson Ong, has launched a legal appeal to the High Court. He is arguing the law is unconstitutional.