The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) announced its stand on repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sex between two men – it does not agree. The NCCS, which represents around 200 churches, said that the “homosexual lifestyle is not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole”.
Section 377A of the Penal Code treats sex between men as a criminal offense, with up to two years’ jail time as punishment. Interestingly, there is no law criminalizing sex between women.
In October 2014, Mr. Tan Eng Hong and couple Mr Gary Lim and Mr Kenneth Chee challenged Section 377A, which they said goes against Articles 9 and 12 of the Constitution, with the goal of striking it down.
Article 9 states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law” and article 12 states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”. Article 12 bans discrimination against any citizen of Singapore on grounds of descent, religion, race or place of birth.
But the Court of Appeal ruled that Section 377A was constitutional and rejected their arguments. The NCCS has said that they agree with the decision, saying, “The position of the National Council of Churches of Singapore on the issue of 377A, which is clearly articulated in its 2003 statement, remains unchanged. It does not support the repeal of 377A. The Council therefore agrees with the 2014 ruling of the apex court concerning the constitutionality of section 377A and supports the government’s decision to retain it.”
The quote is part of a bold and unwavering statement the NCCS made in response to local DJ Johnson Ong Ming filing a court challenge against Section 377A on Monday, September 10.
The NCCS said, “The Bible clearly and categorically prohibits homosexual behavior because it is a perversion of the way in which God has ordered human sexual relationships.”
They are most likely referring to verses from the Bible like Leviticus 18:22, which states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Also, I Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Singapore’s Section 377A has been a hot topic of discussion ever since India’s earth-shattering announcement on September 6, repealing their own ban on gay sex. On the heels of that, Singaporean diplomat Tommy Koh urged the gay community to take a stand and challenge Section 377A again, even after the failed attempt in 2014.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that Singapore’s society has to ultimately make the decision regarding Section 377A and commented that people are “deeply split” on the matter.