Singapore — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching has shared articles in support of gay rights on Facebook. In response, others are urging her to push for change in Singapore.
“Let’s start in our own backyard shall we?” wrote Mr Hossan Leong, a Singaporean stage and screen actor, television host, radio deejay and comedian.
Mdm Ho, who is also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, posted two Facebook updates within five minutes of each other, sharing articles in support of gay rights, on Wednesday (Apr 29) afternoon.
Both the articles were from Economist.com.
The first article was titled “For gay people, Europe is still a divided continent’. Mdm Ho captioned the post by saying: “I wish we would treat people as people, and not stigmatise them.”
The second article she shared was “On gay rights, young Africans share the intolerance of their elders’. Sharing it, Mdm Ho wrote: “Fear of the different
and intolerance of the other.”
Gay sex is punishable under the law in Singapore.
Section 377A of the Penal Code under the words “Outrages on decency” states, “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.”
In 2007, after a heated parliamentary debate over whether Section 377A should be repealed, the law remained on the books, but the Government said it will not be enforced.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said then that the status quo must remain despite the “legal untidiness and ambiguity”.
In January, three men who separately challenged the constitutionality of Section 377A appealed to a five-judge panel against a High Court decision last year to dismiss their cases.
The trio were Dr Roy Tan Seng Kee, a retired general practitioner and activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights; Mr Johnson Ong Ming, a disc jockey; and Mr Bryan Choong, the former executive director of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga.
They contended that Section 377A, which was enacted in 1938, should be struck down as it violates Article 12 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law.
They argued that the law criminalises sex acts only between homosexual men, but not acts between homosexual women or heterosexuals.
In response, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the “political compromise” struck by the Government in 2007 – to keep Section 377A of the Penal Code but not enforce it – should be a factor in determining whether the law, which criminalises sex between men, passes muster.
Mdm Ho’s sharing of articles in support of gay rights was greeted with a stream of comments.
Besides Mr Hossain Leong, others also called for change.
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