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Singapore Keeps Gay Sex Ban, But Promises Not to Enforce It. Uh, Great

singapore

China beat India. And now India looks like it’ll beat Singapore in a nationwide repeal of laws that criminalize same-sex sex. But there’s good-ish news, if you appreciate sarcasm!

While only New Delhi dropped the law so far, there’s an assumption the rest of India will quickly catch up. But some 2,500 miles to the southeast, Singapore isn’t offering its gay citizens anything close to that.

Becuse most Singaporeans don’t accept homosexuality, argues Law Minister K. Shanmugam, the nation won’t repeal the law. BUT: They won’t enforce it either! “We sometimes in these things have to accept a bit of messiness. The way the society is going, we don’t think it’s fair for us to prosecute people who say that they are homosexual.”

Which means they’ll keep on the books a law that carries a two-year jail sentence for gay sex, but they won’t punish anyone for it. (Only two years ago did they legalize oral and anal sex for heteros.)

nogaysex

Is this reason to smile? Not quite. While an assurance from Singapore’s legal chief that state attorneys won’t busy themselves with prosecuting gays for getting it on is good news, these anti-sex laws were never about putting people in prison. They were about state-sanctioned intimidation and harassment, giving police carte blanche to harass and detain gays for any reason they see fit.

The one tiny bit of good news? The beautiful Pink Dot campaign has reason to return next year, bringing together GLBTs and their friends.

By:           editor editor
On:           Jul 6, 2009
Tagged: , ,

  • 16 Comments
    • Dennis
      Dennis

      Nothing to worry about here, just look how well DADT has worked out for us…Stupidity and hypocrisy is clearly endemic to the human species, regardless of time zone, zip code, or country of origin. ugh.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • shelby84
      shelby84

      Ummm… there’s a dick and there’s a hole. Singapore things are gonna happen. Deal with it.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Larry
      Larry

      Ironically, even Lee Kuan Yew himself has called for the law to be repealed.

      It’s kind of sad, really. If not for the sodomy law, I actually wouldn’t mind living in Singapore. Most people I know who’ve been there say it’s an amazingly clean, efficient city, and the services are of remarkable quality.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 3:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      Most Singaporeans don’t accept freedom of religion either or equality for women. It has always been a corrupt island where religion is simply politics in a thinly-veiled disguise. They try to project being “tolerant” to try to keep businesses there. Singapore is light-years behind places like Hong Kong.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bitch, Please!
      Bitch, Please!

      @ DANIEL: Even with the Chinese takeover? That is interesting, IF that is true. I didn’t visit Singapore or Hong Kong and so I do not know about the people living there. But the people that I met (quite a few) in the US from both those countries were equally judgmental and hateful towards the LGBT population. If the people I met from Hong Kong grew up with more liberal policies, how could they change so dramatically while in the US?

      Jul 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smiley Barry
      Smiley Barry

      It’s really not that bad. For example, I live in Tel Aviv, Israel, one of the most gay-accepting cities in the world, and we have a similar law from before Israel’s independence (during the British Mandate) banning that. Sadly, it still exists. But it’s not enforced at all, despite the fact Israel is a “Jewish country” where laws are in many cases based on old Jewish laws in the bible. It just goes to show you a “partial repeal” isn’t all that bad and in some cases, practically the same as a full repeal.

      (Sorry if this has been posted more than once. Clicking “Submit” led me to a blank page.)

      Jul 6, 2009 at 5:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Larry
      Larry

      @Bitch, Please!: You’d be surprised; China’s a little more liberal with regard to sex than people might think, certainly more so than Singapore. Still, Hong Kong didn’t get rid of its own sodomy laws (also a holdover from British colonialism) until the early 90s, and it didn’t make the age of consent for gay and straight sex the same until earlier this decade.

      I think Singapore’s hangups result from a complex mix of British rule, religion, social engineering and the whole “Asian Values” craze in the 90s.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 5:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Forrest
      Forrest

      I was born in Singapore. My dad worked for a multi-national there. They are hardcore across the board so this is relatively good news. They hang anyone caught with drugs, and arrest people for littering. On the flip side it’s one of the safest cities in the world. Would not trade it for our messy democracy. But the majority of Singaporeans like the implicit bargain of a benign dictatorship.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 6:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      Daniel,

      I think you’re confusing Singapore with some Muslim theocracy. there’s absolute freedom of religion, I wouldn’t even know what to say is the majority religion, probably capitalism. And women are probably more advanced here than anywhere else in Asia, running the biggest company, top positions in banks, other countries, etc. I personally think it sucks for many reasons, but lack of religious freedom and women’s rights aren’t on that list.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Singapore is hypocritical. It bans male-male but not female-female. The laws there say male homosexuality is banned but female homosexuality is kosher. Talk about blatant, sleazy hypocrisy.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marius
      Marius

      @jason:

      That was Queen Victoria’s take on the subject as well. Men had sex with other men and that was bad, but she couldn’t even imagine how two women could have sex.

      And then she died.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 9:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BOO!SINGAPORE
      BOO!SINGAPORE

      Well, if Singapore government will enforced the law against homosexual sex then they should build more detention center. Just check Bangkok gay bars, its impossible not to meet a Singaporean.
      The tiny island is teeming with gays. What amazed me is how they allowed this so called “private party” on a Sunday night at St. James Power Station near Sentosa Island. 90% percent of party goers are local gays…hardly any foreigners.

      Jul 6, 2009 at 10:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BOO!SINGAPORE
      BOO!SINGAPORE

      Its a Republic of Singaypore!

      Jul 6, 2009 at 10:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nick
      Nick

      I’m Aussie but i lived in Singapore for about 10 years. Never once have I heard of anyone being arrested for simply being gay. None of the gay friends I had were ever subject to beatings or threats from police or the public in general. There are many popular gay bars, bath houses, clothing stores and of course, Fridae.com and Trevvy.com which is based in Singapore.

      Truth me told, while it is still a very conservative Asian country, it is also a big believer in non-violence and harmonious living… So while there is a medieval law about gay sex, the de factor situation is such that the laws are not enforced and gay men are generally safe to live as they choose with little fear of hate crime, which is more than I can say for most places who claim to have “gay rights”.

      @Daniel – Not sure where you got the impression that there is religious intolerance or that women are oppressed in Singapore… Singapore is one of the most religiously and racially tolerant countries I’ve ever been to (They have 4 official languages and 5 major religions) and women are a driving force in politics and business all across the country.

      Jul 7, 2009 at 8:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason
      Jason

      According to the Singapore gays I know is that if they don’t draw attention to themselves then the government is prepared to ignore them and not crack down on gay bars etc.

      Jul 8, 2009 at 8:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dantalion
      dantalion

      this isn’t new, the non enforcement of the singapore gay law has been around for ages. it’s just what jason said, we keep our faces low, they don’t fuck with us at all. Living here can be tough, but there’s no persecution, no hate crime law protection because hate crimes against gays are just.. not nearly common enough to warrent it. to be honest, singapore is a safe and lovely island nation. Single worst thing about being gay and living here really is that it can get pretty damn boring.

      Jul 13, 2009 at 8:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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