Homosexual sex is illegal in Singapore under section 377A. Constitutional rights for gay people are nonexistent for the most part, and penalties for crimes relating to homosexual acts is up to 2 year's jail (s377A). However, in October 2007, during the Penal Code review and repeal of section 377, the Singapore government declared that private, consensual, adult homosexual sex would no longer be prosecuted but that its illegality would remain as a statement of the values of the "conservative majority".
Legislation from October 2007Edit
On the 23rd October 2007 oral and anal sex was legalised for heterosexuals only. The changes mean oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexual adults is no longer an offense but section 377A, which deals with oral and anal sex between consenting men, remains in force. "Singapore is basically a conservative society," the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, told MPs before the vote. "The family is the basic building block of this society. And by family in Singapore we mean one man, one woman, marrying, having children and bringing up children within that framework of a stable family unit."
Section 377A of the Penal CodeEdit
Section 377A ("Outrages on decency") states that:
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.
Section 354 of the Penal Code (Outrage of Modesty)Edit
Section 354 provides that if any person uses criminal force on any person intending to outrage, or knowing it would be likely to outrage, the modesty of that person, he shall be imprisoned for a maximum of 2 years, or with fine, or with caning, or with any 2 of such punishments.
In the early and mid-1990s, the police conducted undercover sting operations using handsome agents provocateurs in certain places such as Katong Park, the reclaimed land at Tanjong Rhu and even at East Coast Park where gay men were known to cruise or solicit for sex. From 1990-94, 50 homosexuals were charged under section 354. The usual punishment in 1993 was 2 to 6 months' imprisonment plus caning, usually 3 strokes.
In 1994 a man was charged under section 354 for molesting an undercover police decoy by touching the policeman's penis. He was sentenced by the magistrate court to 4 months' imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane. He appealed to the High Court against the sentencing. In the ensuing High Court case, Tan Boon Hock v PP (1994) 2 SLR 150, the Chief Justice reversed the magistrate's sentencing and imposed a fine of only $2000.
The Chief Justice ruled that imprisonment was inappropriate and a fine sufficed for a charge under section 354 because:
- (i) it was not a case where a male used criminal force to outrage the modesty of a vulnerable and unsuspecting female, and
- (ii) in such undercover police operations to weed out gay men, there was implied consent by the police to be touched.
After this landmark case police operations have rarely been carried out. Even if there have been such operations since then, there have been no press reports documenting the prosecution of homosexuals under section 354 for outraging the modesty of police decoys.
Section 354 requires that the police or someone be touched. However, if no physical contact is made, homosexual behaviour can also be charged under Section 294A (see below).
Section 294A of the Penal Code (Obscene Act)Edit
If the victim of an entrapment operation uses a symbolic gesture to signal intention to have sexual activity with the police decoy, he can be tried under section 294A of the Penal Code, which covers the commission of any obscene act in any public place to the annoyance of others (subject to a maximum of 3 months' jail, a fine, or both). From 1990 to 1994, there were 6 cases of obscene acts brought before the courts in this context. The accused were fined between $200–$800.
Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) ActEdit
The police can use section 19 (soliciting in a public place) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which covers both prostitution and soliciting "for any other immoral purpose". This offence carries a fine of up to $1,000, doubling on a subsequent conviction, including a jail term not exceeding 6 months.
According to documentation by National University of Singapore sociologist Laurence Leong Wai Teng, from 1990–94, there were 11 cases where gay men were charged for soliciting. They were fined between $200–$500. However, a Lawnet search revealed no reported cases of persons being charged under section 19. This does not mean, however that no persons were charged. They could have pleaded guilty and avoided trial, resulting in the absence of case law.
In the infamous Club One-Seven incident, three undercover policemen entered a gay sauna on July 23, 2001, at about 6:55 pm, climbed over a cubicle and arrested two men who were having sex in it. They were charged under section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act which refers to "riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour" in a public setting, liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one month. They were eventually each fined $600.
Gay Pride parades will not be allowed in Singapore because they conflict with the conservative values of most Singapore residents, the city-state's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong stated in 2005.
Prior to 2003, homosexuals were barred from being employed in "sensitive positions" within the Singapore Civil Service. Then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong demolished this barrier in a widely publicised statement.
Homosexuals and effeminate men are managed according to the dictates of a manpower directive issued by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
The most widely known and infamous classification is Category 302, a medical code given to personnel who are "homosexuals, transvestites, paedophiles, etc." Category 302 (popularly referred to as "cat 302") homosexuals are further classified into those "with effeminate behaviour" and those "without effeminate behaviour". This form of discrimination persists despite the fact that homosexuality was depathologised by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, and homosexuality is not regarded as a psychiatric condition by the local medical profession. Moreover, the military's grouping of homosexuality and transvetism with paedophilia further reinforces the public misconception that it is abnormal.
Self-declared or discovered servicemen are referred to the Psychological Medicine Branch of the Headquarters of Medical Services for a thorough psychiatric assessment, which involves their parents being called in for an interview.
They are medically downgraded to a Public Employment Status of C (PES C), regardless of their level of fitness, and put through modified Basic Military Training. On graduation, they are deployed in a vocation which has no security risks, posted to non-sensitive units and given a security status which restricts their access to classified documents.
Formerly, Category 302 personnel were not allowed to stay overnight in-camp, nor were they required to perform night duties, but these restrictions have been relaxed. Effeminate homosexuals are also posted to a holding list upon completion of National Service and not required to do reservist training, whilst non-effeminate ones have to undergo it in non-sensitive units.
A less well known classification is Category 30-B, a medical code given to servicemen "with effeminate behaviour not amounting to sexual disorders". These individuals are further subdivided into "mildly effeminate", "effeminate" and "severely effeminate". Presumably, this group only includes effeminate heterosexual men and not homosexuals, so there have historically been very few servicemen slapped with this label; hence, its relative obscurity.
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and SportsEdit
In January 2006 the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) granted S$100,000 (US$61,500) to Liberty League, an organisation affiliated with the so-called ex-gay movement which "promotes gender and sexual health for the individual, family and society".
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