FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
22 JANUARY 2013, 8PM
1. Various comments have been made in public, both for and against the ‘repeal’ of section 377A, Penal Code, which makes it an offence for a male person to commit an act of gross indecency with another male person.
2. The issue of the constitutionality of section 377A is before the High Court in two cases. When the cases are heard, the arguments relating to the constitutionality issue will be fully aired in Court. Meanwhile, we would remind all parties that statements made by members of the public would be sub judice contempt, if the statements are calculated to affect the minds of the courts hearing the case, the minds of parties who are concerned in the case itself, or if they amount to public pre-judgment of the case, and there is a real risk of prejudice.
3. All parties are therefore advised to refrain from making any public comments on these matters that are sub judice, pending final determination by the courts.
4. The Attorney-General’s Chambers takes a serious view of any statements which are sub judice and will, if necessary, act to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.
Deputy Director, Media Relations
Attorney-General’s Chambers, Singapore
28 February 2013:
SINGAPORE — Reiterating that Singapore society is not likely to come to a conclusion on gay rights, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signalled yesterday that the status quo will remain — and his position on Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men, still stands.
Speaking 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.
Mr Lee also brought up the issue of gay rights — which has come under the spotlight again recently — in response to a question from actress Janice Koh, who is also a Nominated Member of Parliament.
Ms Koh asked whether there is space for public discussions on issues that are potentially polarising.
She noted that such discussions could help build a more resilient society.
Citing the example of gay rights, Mr Lee said: “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.”
He added that the “conservative roots” in society do not want to see the social landscape change.