Council of churches commends singapore government on anti-gay legislation, calls for criminalisation of lesbianism

Monday, March 12, 2007

Council of churches commends singapore government on anti-gay legislation, calls for criminalisation of lesbianism

by Sylvia Tan
As Singapore is looking at its first major review of its Penal Code in more than 20 years, the National Council of Churches has praised the government for its proposal to retain laws criminalising homosexual acts, and for the first time advocated the specific inclusion of lesbians in its scope. In a statement published in the March issue of the Methodist Message, the official monthly journal of the Methodist Church in Singapore, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) commended the government on its stance to not repeal Section 377 A which outlaws sex acts between men although laws that criminalise anal and oral sex between opposite-sex couples will be repealed.

The NCCS represents Methodists, Anglicans and Presbyterians, among other mainstream denominations in Singapore. Currently, Section 377A of the Penal Code (PC) provides for a 2-year jail term for “any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person.” The statement published on the Methodist Message web site reads: “We are aware that the proposed amendment to delete section 377 PC but on the other hand retaining section 377A PC may be controversial in some quarters.

Nevertheless, we consider homosexual acts to be sinful, abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not. The NCCS commends the Government on taking a clear, unequivocal and bold stand of neither encouraging nor endorsing a homosexual lifestyle and opposing the presentation of the same as part of a mainstream way of life.” Although the NCCS has in 2003 publicly urged the government to maintain current legislation concerning homosexuality, not permit the registration of homosexual societies or clubs and not allow the promotion of homosexual lifestyle and activities, this is the first time it has called for the criminalisation of lesbianism.

“Given that section 377A PC criminalises homosexuality whether done private or publicly, we are of the view that a similar prohibition ought to be enacted in respect of lesbianism, considering that lesbianism (like homosexuality) is also abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not.'” Said the statement. In a document released last year by the Ministry Of Home Affairs on the proposed Penal Code amendments, Section 377A will sit between new laws criminalising necrophilia and bestiality under the same rubric of “unnatural offences.” The proposed amendments are expected to be debated in Parliament in the next quarter.