Singapore took a turn for the best this weekend as groups of gay citizens, and their friends gathered across the nation to watch Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong repeal the controversial 377A law, effectively legalizing homosexuality.
Under the 377A law, offenders can receive up to two years in prison. Some religious groups wanted the law to remain intact even though it hasn’t been applied to consenting adult males for decades after concerns were raised that doing so might encourage homosexuality, eventually undermining traditional family structures.
Amid cheers and celebratory waving of rainbow flags followed a dampening sentence that reiterated the meaning of this step towards equality. Cheers stifled as Loong assured the public that his government would “protect” the definition of marriage as one between a man and a woman – ruling out the possibility of marriage equality for now since most Singaporeans do not want a “drastic shift.”
Both sides of the political spectrum have criticized the announcement; while some members of the LGBT community feel let down, conservative segments of society believe the amendment is insufficient.
Recent polls have revealed that there is substantial resistance to homosexual marriage in Singapore. One research finding declared that over half of Singaporeans believe it to be “wrong,” but that percentage is also declining.
Although most of Singapore’s population urged Loong to maintain a line between full-on equality, the Prime Minister added to his speech on Sunday that the government would take steps to prevent legal challenges that would allow same-sex marriages to be recognized.
However, Loong reminded Singapore’s LGBTQ+ citizens that his decision was based solely on politics and not on social awareness, arguing that this action was necessary, seeing as gay marriage is fundamentally a political issue rather than a legal one.
Rights activists and members of the gay community said on Monday that Sunday’s actions, although long overdue, will not eradicate prejudice against LGBT groups in the conservative city-state.
Protect Singapore, a group lobbying for preserving traditional values, said there was still a lack of “comprehensive safeguards” amid the repeal.
LGBT organizations have already begged the government to reject the conservatives’ request. They expressed concern that it would only “codify more discrimination into supreme law” in a united statement.
Although Singapore intends to lead to a more unifying state, it’s gotten scorned in its latest attempt.