Churches Respond to Repeal of Section 377A While Pink Dot Hails ‘Victory’

The focus of yesterday’s National Day Rally (NDR) lays predominantly on the Government’s decision to repeal Section 377A of the penal code, which criminalises sex between men.

The decision was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsein Long after many years of public and parliamentary debate over the law, with the local LGBTQ community being the most outspoken group in championing for its removal throughout.

“We need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate both the traditional mores of our society, and the aspiration of gay Singaporeans to be respected and accepted,” said PM Lee.

“I believe (repeal) is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will now accept. This will bring the law into line with current social mores, and I hope, provide some relief to gay Singaporeans.”

A “Hard Won Victory” For Pink Dot Singapore

In a community statement on the repeal following the announcement, Pink Dot Singapore, a support group for LGBTQ individuals, declared that the repeal of 377A was a “hard won victory” for them, and “a triumph of love over fear.”

They also stated that this represents something different for every member of Singapore that has been hoping for this outcome.

“For everyone who has experienced the kinds of bullying, rejection, and harassment enabled by this law, the repeal finally enables us to begin the process of healing. For those that long for a more equal and inclusive Singapore, the repeal signifies that change is indeed possible.”

However they also asserted that the repeal had arrived far too late for many who have been “past victims of Section 377A”, such as those who faced threats of police entrapment, raids, and criminal charges, expressing continual support and sympathy for this group.

The organisation also expressed disappointment at the announced decision to make amendments to the Constitution in order to enshrine the existing definition of marriage, i.e. between men and women, citing that it further signals LGBTQ people as unequal citizens. Though, they called for everyone to not allow this to polarise them further, and to strengthen ties within the vulnerable community in the face of backlash.

“An Extremely Regrettable Decision” For Some Churches

The Alliance of Pentecostal & Charismatic Churches of Singapore (APCCS) released a media statement following the NDR this year.

Chairman Reverend Yang Tuck Yong said, “The repeal is an extremely regrettable decision which will have a profound impact on the culture that our children and future generations of Singaporeans will live in.

“However, we also recognise that the government seeks to bring about a balance among many differing viewpoints on this matter.

“We strongly urge the government to entrench the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the Singapore Constitution. That would be the most prudent way forward.”

They also called for a party whip should be lifted in order to have a democratic process, should the matter be put to a parliamentary vote. This would be so that “members of Parliament can represent the voice of all people, including the religious, and vote according to the feedback they have received.”

APCCS had released a statement of concern three days prior to the announcement, regarding the possibility of a 377A repeal, stating, “The issue surrounding Section 377A is not just about its ‘legal untidiness’, or that it criminalises gay sexual acts since the prospect of that has now effectively been nullified by the courts. The problem is that the unmitigated repeal of S377A facilitates the progress of a brand of intolerant and aggressive LGBT activism which seeks to impose its ideology upon Singapore society.”

Whilst upholding this viewpoint, they also maintained that while the church cautions against normalising homosexuality in Singapore, “we empathise and reach out to those with same-sex attraction. They are an important part of the world that God loves and are worthy of compassion, equal respect, and dignity.”

Catholic Churches Seek Right To Practice Traditional Marriage

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore also released their response to the repeal of 377A, stating, “We do not seek to criminalise the LGBTQ (group), for they too are children of God and loved by Him.”

The church added in a statement on their website, “However, we seek protection of the family and marriage according to natural law; and our rights to teach and practise them unhindered. We must not allow reverse discrimination to take place against those who believe in marriage as defined between a man and a woman.”

They also warned, “Otherwise, we will be taking a slippery road of no return, weakening the fabric of a strong society which is founded on the bedrock of holistic families and marriages.”

Prior to this, the Archbishop of Singapore, Mr William Goh, expressed the catholic’s position on the issue.

“The decision on whether to do away with a law that criminalises sex between men is one for the Government to take, and the Catholic Church here takes a neutral position on repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code,” he said in a recent interview.

“As long as the rights of the Church and the religious are protected, and they can continue to teach what they believe is right, the Church will not oppose any repeal of Section 377A,” he added.

He also expressed that the church is neutral so long as their rights to maintain their position on marriage as a union between a man and a woman is upheld, adding that they “did not want to criminalise any people”.

With some other religious leaders have sharing his view as well, an overall nuance in viewpoints on this matter from different religious groups can be observed.

Read More:

Featured Image: Facebook (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore), Mediacorp