The Singapore government will soon be reviewing its Penal Code which has not been reviewed in 20 years. One of proposed amendments to the Penal Code is on Section 377A which outlaws sex acts between men will not be repealed but laws that criminalise anal and oral sex between opposite-sex couples will be repealed.
The National Council of Churches in Singapore (NCCS) has commended on the government on this stance, and in its statement release, it says: “We are aware that the proposed amendment to delete section 377 PC but on the other hand retaining section 377A PC may be controversial in some quarters. Nevertheless, we consider homosexual acts to be sinful, abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not. The NCCS commends the Government on taking a clear, unequivocal and bold stand of neither encouraging nor endorsing a homosexual lifestyle and opposing the presentation of the same as part of a mainstream way of life. At the same time, we do not condemn homosexuals as the Bible calls us to hate the sin but love the sinner. Given that section 377A PC criminalises homosexuality whether done private or publicly, we are of the view that a similar prohibition ought to be enacted in respect of lesbianism, considering that lesbianism (like homosexuality) is also abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not.”
In response to the NCCS’s statement on the proposed amendments to the Penal Code, the Free Community Church and other NGOs in Singapore have issued statements objecting to NCCS’s call to criminalising lesbian acts and advocating the retention of Section 377A. Below is the statement released by the Free Community Church.
The Free Community Church expresses shock and dismay over the National Council of Churches in Singapore’s feedback to the Ministry of Home Affairs, published in the March 2007 issue of The Methodist Message, commending the retention of S377A of the Penal Code, and further calling for a similar criminalisation of lesbians.
In particular we strongly object to the NCCS feedback in the following respects:
In its 8 Nov 2006 press release, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that the approach to amending the Penal Code is, amongst others, “to update its provisions so that they remain relevant and effective in view of societal and global changes”. With this aim, the government has made the initial step in proposing to repeal S377, abolishing the crime of anal and oral sex when carried out by heterosexuals in private. NCCS’ call to further criminalise lesbians (never before included in this section of the penal code) is a retrograde step and a regressive move backwards.
To deny this, the Church neglects to take seriously its task of doing theology, being critical, constructive and contextual, re-thinking God anew in the ever-changing contexts of every generation that leads to justice for all God’s people.