Buddhist Fellowship president supports Section 377A repeal in 'spirit of care, empathy and compassion'

An aerial view of lights in a Pink Dot formation during the event's 10th iteration at Hong Lim Park, on July 21, 2018.
An aerial view of lights in a Pink Dot formation during the event's 10th iteration at Hong Lim Park, on July 21, 2018.ST PHOTO: SONG TAO

SINGAPORE - The Buddhist Fellowship's president said on Sunday (Sept 30) that he supports repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code, based on Buddhist teachings of empathy and compassion for all living beings.

Section 377A criminalises sex between men but is not enforced here.

In a statement posted on the Buddhist Fellowship's Facebook page on Sunday, its president Lim Phang Hong said Buddha's teachings encourage Buddhists to develop understanding and care for all communities, regardless of their race, religion, language or sexual orientation.

He cited the Metta Sutta, a Buddhist text, that states that one should cherish all living beings with a boundless heart.

Mr Lim added: "In this same spirit of care, empathy and compassion, I support the repeal of any law which criminalises, discriminates or marginalises particular groups.

"We seek to reconcile marginalised communities with society, in a way that promotes respect and harmony across different communities in Singapore and the world."

He told The Straits Times that he was speaking in a personal capacity and wanted to explain Buddha's teachings as he was concerned that people might have a wrong view of Buddhism on the 377A matter.

The Buddhist Fellowship is a non-sectarian organisation that aims to serve Buddhist practitioners across three different traditions of Buddhism. Its website said that the group has a membership base of a few thousand members.

 
 
 
 

The statement follows renewed debate about Section 377A, sparked by the Supreme Court of India's decision on Sept 6 to strike down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made consensual gay sex a crime.

Several religious organisations in Singapore have rejected repealing Section 377A.

The head of the Catholic Church in Singapore said that the law should not be repealed under the present circumstances, while the National Council of Churches of Singapore said that it believes "that the homosexual lifestyle is not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole".

The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) said that a repeal of Section 377A could cause several "worrying implications".

The Ready4Repeal petition was submitted to the Home Affairs and Law Ministries last Friday. It had received 44,650 signatures.

The Please Keep Penal Code 377A in Singapore petition, which was closed on Sept 24, garnered almost 109,000 signatures.