Section 377A: Moving beyond slippery slopes to a rational consensus

Take a hard look at the science on homosexuality, and monitor public opinion closely, before deciding whether to repeal law criminalising gay sex

Participants with lighted torches at a Pink Dot event in Hong Lim Park. The writer says that perhaps more people support decriminalisation while fewer would agree on gay marriage. There might well be differences on this, even among the lesbian, bisex
Participants with lighted torches at a Pink Dot event in Hong Lim Park. The writer says that perhaps more people support decriminalisation while fewer would agree on gay marriage. There might well be differences on this, even among the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer community, and professional, in-depth surveys should be conducted periodically on the issue.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Debate swirls about Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code after India's Supreme Court ruled its country's equivalent provision unconstitutional. In Singapore, when the issue was debated in 2007, a compromise was struck to keep the law on the books but not enforce it. This chafes some.

Three questions bear consideration. How should our judges consider the matter? Should we focus on repealing S377A which makes sex between men a crime, or must possible future outcomes be considered, such as that legalising homosexual acts may end with a society legitimising and promoting gay marriage? Can the present compromise continue?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Section 377A: Moving beyond slippery slopes to a rational consensus'. Subscribe