News | Singapore

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong Says Law Criminalizing Homosexuality Should Stay Because 'It's Always Been There'

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday that Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality, should just be left alone because society will never agree on it, Today Online reports:

LeeSpeaking at the Singapore Perspectives conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Mr Lee was asked by a participant how the fact that the Republic is a secular country reconciles with “an old and archaic law that nearly discriminates against a whole (group) of people”.

In response, Mr Lee noted that in countries that do not criminalise homosexuality, “the struggles don’t end”. He cited the example of recent demonstrations in Paris by supporters and detractors of gay marriage.

“Why is that law on the books? Because it’s always been there and I think we just leave it,” said Mr Lee, adding that he had explained his decision in 2007 to retain Section 377A.

Lee added that it's not worth publically discussing polarizing issues like gay rights:

“These are not issues that we can settle one way or the other, and it’s really best for us just to leave them be, and just agree to disagree. I think that’s the way Singapore will be for a long time.”

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  1. Now that's what I call "real leadership", Mr. Loong. It has always been this way so why change it? Can you imagine what shape the world would be in today if that were the position taken by various countries' leaders over the past, say, 50 years?? This position is nothing short of a total cop-out by a politician more afraid for his own personal future than the future of a group of his citizens. Absolutely disgusting! I hope the US State Department has something to say to Singapore about this matter.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Jan 30, 2013 11:44:20 AM

  2. Yet, more likely than not, Mr. Lee has several "Bugis Boys" he frequents on a regular basis...

    Posted by: talibaptist | Jan 30, 2013 11:47:51 AM

  3. well that's not a terribly intelligent justification....

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 30, 2013 11:49:49 AM

  4. God has been making LGBT people since he started making people, trying to stop gays is like trying to stop God.

    Posted by: Lou | Jan 30, 2013 11:51:20 AM

  5. Wow... that is, quite possibly, the worst possible reason in the world, ever, for anything... How the hell did this moron get elected to office?

    Posted by: Rich F. | Jan 30, 2013 11:52:59 AM

  6. The world is flat Mr. Loong.
    I thought US politicans were idiots.
    He's such an obvious closet case it's scary.
    Having been to the underground bath houses in Singapore in 2011 gay SEX lives are alive and well in good old Singapore!

    Posted by: SFshawn | Jan 30, 2013 11:58:10 AM

  7. Typical response from a non-democratic country's beurocrat.

    Posted by: Kári Emil | Jan 30, 2013 12:05:56 PM

  8. It irks me when the discriminator tells the object of his discrimination that it would be nice to "agree to disagree" that the minority deserves inferior rights in society.

    It's true that the argument has not ended in France, but that is because the argument on anyone's quest for equal rights never does end until equal rights is acheived.
    In countries like Canada, the whole discussion basically packed up and went home years ago as doon as equal legal rights WERE achieved.
    Gay Canadians have no more quarrels over their rights as equal citizens, and the formerly anti-gay Canadian groups had to realize that none of their "the-sky-will-fall" predictions ever happened when their gay neighbors were treated as equsls by the government.
    Fair treatment for all helps many in society to live better lives and has never had a single negative consequence to ANYONE anywhere.

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 30, 2013 12:14:03 PM

  9. Guess he still likes taking a dump in a hole in the ground, too, since that's just the way they've always done it.

    Gee, what a progressive guy!

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 30, 2013 12:17:31 PM

  10. Singapore- another hole in the Pacific that's off my travel itinerary. Thanks for the "heads-up", PM "gay face" Loong.

    Posted by: Jerry | Jan 30, 2013 12:21:42 PM

  11. Nothing surprising from the leader of the only party in an essentially one-party system. It happens to be a conservative party which is equivalent to the Republican party in the US.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 30, 2013 12:36:23 PM

  12. "Let's continue to discriminate because we have always discriminated"

    Thank you Mr. Long for shattering the age old myth that all Asians are smart.


    Posted by: Michael Heynz | Jan 30, 2013 12:39:54 PM

  13. Now that's what I call leadership?

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 30, 2013 12:44:18 PM

  14. What strikes me as truly ODD i was in singapore in 1998 when they opened a huge gay night club and bath house. No protests, no police raids, all was good as a matter of fact i was told that the government encouraged supporting the gay bars and community because "they were loosing the creative people.

    They should have taken the laws off the books then since they decided not to enforce them. Gay people have always been in Singapore and always will be....since before govermental laws!

    Posted by: Rev. Joseph Shore-Goss | Jan 30, 2013 1:08:12 PM

  15. I think Singapore is afraid of doing anything that would offend the Malaysians and Indonesians because of its reliance for resources from the Islam-majority neighboring countries, much more so Malaysia.

    Even though the law is not strictly enforced, keeping it will only show that Singaporean society is ok with discrimination and prejudice.

    Posted by: gayalltheway | Jan 30, 2013 1:19:43 PM

  16. Don't they also cane people in Singapore as punishment? Barbaric!

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 30, 2013 1:21:45 PM

  17. John Locke had a response to this faulty kind of reasoning way back in the 17th century:
    "at best an argument from what has been, to what should of right be, has no great force"

    Posted by: RyanInWyo | Jan 30, 2013 1:25:48 PM

  18. Rev. Joseph Shore-Goss:
    No police raid. That doesn't mean they won't do it in the future when some religious or "upstanding" citizen complains and make it public.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 30, 2013 1:42:45 PM

  19. It is like the sodomy law in Texas before decriminalization. It is difficult to enforce. The couple was caught in bed accidentally by the police.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 30, 2013 1:48:59 PM

  20. Is he running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016?

    Posted by: Prick Perry | Jan 30, 2013 2:31:42 PM

  21. I'm curious how extensively the law is enforced in Singapore. If they want it "de facto" illegal, I can live with that since I do plenty of things at home that are de facto illegal, but I'd really hate to visit and face a caning, prison, or execution for having sex with my partner in my hotel.

    Posted by: Greg | Jan 30, 2013 5:13:28 PM

  22. There are so many gay expat men and women working in Singapore as well as many gay locals...nothing is hidden so I don't understand? BTW, my US govt expat bf lives and works there.

    Posted by: blonder | Jan 31, 2013 1:37:23 AM

  23. @Greg

    It's not enforced at all, and the government has said many times they have no intention of enforcing it. That's the explanatory part that's left off this story. Of course it would be great if they would strike down this law (which they inherited from the English). But as the PM said, they're not going to because it's a divisive issue, and Singapore is all about hiding the divisions. The law sits there, ignored, and the Evangelicals are ok with that arrangement, as are most of the gays. Every time the law is discussed Christians start doing their crazy thing, and Singapore hates public participation in political discourse. So the PM believes that the Singapore way is to find the easiest way out of this, which is to keep things the way they are and just ignore it.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 31, 2013 8:12:30 AM

  24. there is next to little or no enforcement of the law here in Singapore, but the consequences of that archaic law being in place hinders any progress to be made in terms of seeking equality and rights for the LGBTQ movement here. From sexuality education to the young, to getting hospitalisation and visitation rights in the wards, to discrimination in the workplace that goes unpunished as the group is seen go be perpetuating something illegal here in Singapore. The government here doesn't want to rattle the boat so to speak but it's also making living here day to day, seemingly unbearable.

    Posted by: Ben Xue | Jan 31, 2013 10:53:24 AM

  25. In my opinion,I think Singaporeans should have the right to express who they really are. In the US, there is marriage equality in most states, if I am not wrong. I do not like that Singapore seems to be against gays.

    Posted by: Rachel | Jun 18, 2013 7:57:51 AM

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