365Gay.com: Singapore to Repeal Sodomy Laws But Not For Gays (Sept 17)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Singapore To Repeal Sodomy Laws But Not For Gays
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: September 17, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Singapore) Legislation was introduced in the Singapore Parliament on Monday to repeal laws banning sodomy but the bill would specifically limit it to heterosexuals.

The new legislation is the first overhaul of the penal code in nearly a quarter century. It removes a section of the law making "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" a crime.

But it maintains a similar law, dating back to British imperial rule, forbidding sex of any kind between males.

Under the law "gross indecency" between two men can lead to two years in jail.

Police have not laid a charge for a number of years, but LGBT rights groups in the city state have been actively lobbying for its repeal.

In April, Lee Kuan Yew, the man regarded as the father of Singapore, called for the decriminalization of gay sex laws. (story)

"If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual — because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes — you can't help it. So why should we criminalize it," Lee, who served as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 and is the father of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, told a youth rally.

The revised criminal code also broadens laws against "unlawful assembly."

That provision also has raised concerns among gay activists.

In August Singapore banned gay events held in public parks. The move came as gays were attempting to celebrate LGBT pride. (story)

Police lifted a permit to hold a picnic and fun run at a park saying politics were not welcome in green spaces.

Censors refused to allow an LGBT book reading event that was to have been part of the pride celebration. A human rights forum was blocked. And a photography exhibit of of gays and lesbians was closed by police hours before it was to officially open.

The Media Development Authority balked at a book by author Ng Yi-Sheng about a young man's fictional sexual adventures with older men including military officers and government officials.

The authority said that the book went beyond good taste and decency and disparaged public officers.

The human rights forum was to have featured Douglas Sanders, a professor emeritus in law at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Thailand's Chulalongkorn University.

The forum, titled "Sexual Orientation in International Law: The Case of Asia," was deemed contrary to public interest.

The censorship board ordered the photo exhibition closed because it showed photos of gay men and women kissing.

The board said that the show violated Singapore law because it promoted "a homosexual lifestyle".