BANGKOK (3 December 2022) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) welcomes the decision by Singapore’s Parliament to pass the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, that repeals Section 377A of the Penal Code, which for decades has criminalised consensual sex between men.
The 377A law, introduced when Singapore was a British colony, had broadly impacted and stigmatised the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ+) people.
“The repeal of Section 377A is a critical step towards respecting the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Singapore and will contribute to a more open, tolerant, and inclusive society where people can be who they are and love who they want without fear of judicial action,” said Cynthia Veliko, Regional Representative of OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia.
Ms. Veliko underlined the vital contribution of civil society in the process of repealing Section 377A. “I would like to acknowledge human rights defenders, lawyers and their allies in Singapore for their courage and vision in campaigning tirelessly for many years for this historic change that is in line with international human rights norms and standards,’ said Ms. Veliko.
“Criminalisation of homosexuality is one of the root causes of pervasive human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and is too often the basis for broader forms of discrimination and violations that take place,” said Ms. Veliko. “We congratulate Singapore’s Parliament for the removal of this archaic law and strongly urge other countries in the region to join the growing group of nations who have turned away from criminalisation.”
Singapore is now amongst countries across the globe that have recently decriminalized same-sex relations, including India, Nepal, Belize, Nauru, Palau, the Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Bhutan, and Angola.
Ms. Veliko noted concerns about the adoption by Parliament of an amendment to Singapore’s constitution, which enshrines and insulates from judicial review a narrow definition of “marriage” as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. “Lack of recognition of couples with diverse sexual orientations or gender identities leads to discrimination against adults and children, including in relation to health care, housing, the death or injury of a family member, insurance, pensions, social benefits and inheritance, among others, said Ms. Veliko.
“Decriminalisation is not the end point in tackling stigma and exclusion but is a vital step forward. It is essential for Singaporean law to protect the relationships of all consenting partners, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristic, including in the context of marriage, parenting and adoption,” said Ms. Veliko.
For more information and media requests, please contact: in Bangkok, Wannaporn Samutassadong (+66 65 986 0810 / firstname.lastname@example.org).