Catholics urged to reject repeal of Section 377A

Archbishop William Goh's comments were made following debate on the 377A legislation that was sparked by India's Sept 6 ruling to decriminalise Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made consensual gay sex a crime.
Archbishop William Goh's comments were made following debate on the 377A legislation that was sparked by India's Sept 6 ruling to decriminalise Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made consensual gay sex a crime.ST FILE PHOTO

The head of the Catholic Church in Singapore has said that Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men, should not be repealed under the present circumstances.

In a letter posted on Tuesday (Sept 18) night on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website, Archbishop William Goh said he would not object to a repeal "if it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals".

He wrote: "However, until and unless Parliament puts in place a formulation that more perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the law, guaranteeing the protection of the rights of the majority who favour the traditional family, and that no further demands be made to legalise same-sex unions, same-sex adoption of babies, surrogacy, or to criminalise those who do not support the homosexual lifestyle, I am of the view that S377A should not be repealed under the present circumstances.

"This is because, by accepting homosexual acts as a social norm, the dreadful consequences for the stability of our families, the well-being of our children, and the risks to the common good will be long term and irreversible."

His letter follows debate on the 377A legislation that was sparked by India's Sept 6 ruling to decriminalise Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made consensual gay sex a crime.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had said that any decision on 377A is "a matter for Parliament". He added that depending on the legislation, public opinion is "often relevant" during policymaking in Parliament.

In his letter, Archbishop Goh appealed to Catholics in Singapore to make a "conscientious decision" to reject the repeal of 377A. He added that as individuals and responsible citizens, Catholics had an important role to play in voicing their views to the Government.

 
 

He said that "as the chief shepherd of the archdiocese", he prayed "we will not walk the slippery path of no return". He wrote: "Looking at the dire consequences for countries which normalised same-sex unions and the ramifications that followed, may we not repeat the mistake that others have made!"

The 377A debate has seen people petition for both the repeal and retention of the law, with online petitions attracting thousands of signatures for both sides.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2018, with the headline 'Catholics urged to reject repeal of Section 377A'. Print Edition | Subscribe