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Essay: Section 377A Of The Penal Code Add in library

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Describe about the Section 377A of the Penal Code of criminalises sex between men?


The paper directs towards the alluring disagreement to guard the researchers about the issue of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Regarding the issue of 377A of the Penal Code numerous debates took place in the Singapore parliament. As the supreme court of Singapore has sustained this law so according this reason many gay couples things that their rights of their equality have been cross questioned.

According to the Section 377A of the Penal Code, if any male person is found to be committed or abducting the task with any other male person in any public or private area then both of them will be penalized and strict actions will be taken. In Singapore this law was introduced in 1938(Au, 2011) in the Singapore Penal Code. The law was introduced to illegalize all the non-penetrative actions between men (Rycenga, 2009).

However, there are research going on this issue that why Singapore government is giving so much importance to this issue and passing such law  when there are many more important issues to deal with. In the early 20th century, prostitution was one of the major concerns in Singapore. Therefore, Britain had found it difficult to pass the Section 377 to stop the men to have sex with their clients. For those cases, a new law was introduced i.e. 377A to stop men from any illegal sexual activity with other men. Two men were found together in inappropriate positions and they were charged huge amount as penalty. In 1980’s when male prostitution was one of the major issues in Britain at that time having sex with teenage girls of 13 year is legal. Buying and selling of girls has already increased in huge amount and it was mainly done by the middle class peoples and to address this issues Criminal law Amendment was drafted in the year 1981. However a new scandal in 1985 a new debate topic was erupted in the parliament of Singapore.

In line with this, the parliament of Singapore there were many issues regarding the political, religious and economic issues (Fernandez & Lutter, 2013).The issue regarding the religion was one of the major issues (Chang, 2012). In Singapore Buddhism, Hindu, Muslim and Christianity are the major religions. Different religion follows different laws and for that there is clash between the peoples of different religions and most of the people belong to Christianity. According to Christianity, sex between the same unions or homosexuality is sin in their Bible and they were totally against this law. But in Hinduism, the beliefs and values are totally different from the Christian religion and sex between same unions is allowed. According to the general beliefs of Hindus karma, Dharma, Samsara and Moksha and there is a reference about third sex in the Vedas which gives the reference to the LGBT context in Kama Sutra and on the basis of this context Hindus were in favor to this. After all this also sex between same union or homosexuality was banned or it can be said that it was discouraged because people used to think that all these are against their religion. There were not only religious issues but there were many social issues also in the Section 377 A of the Penal Code. In the stereotypical Singapore society, it is believed that heterosexuality is based on beliefs and it is associated with the conceptions but homosexuality is associated to being condemned. Besides it is seen that the families in Singapore are very strict with their religion and so they are against homosexuality (Dziengel, 2010). The concept ‘heterosexual matrix’ is sustainable in typical families of Singapore and but when the matrix was altered then the families has to cope up with the new change. Families were in a dilemma whether to accept it or resist it (Chua, 2012). On the other side the individuals has to face many sarcasm from the society and their families. So to safeguard themselves and their families they decided not to announce their sex status to anyone and this will help to keep the honors of their parents (Benoit, 2005).For all these reasons and huge oppositions from the people about the union of same sex the Section 377 A was established. Later the law was revised and was put in such a way that physical relationship was criminalized and due to this revised law the section 377A was formed. Section 377A bans in having any oral or physical sex between two individual men.

Regarding this matter numerous debates among people are still going on. Many offline and online petitions are filed by the supporters for union sex. and annul are the online site of these petition (Lipkin, 2004). Many seculars are put forward and were told to take the decisions that the majority has taken the reject the minority’s decisions. But according to the Singapore parliament these issue is giving wrong impact to the society and it is affecting the living style of the society. Therefore, homosexuality cannot be an acceptable lifestyle by the society (Whitehead, 2014). Later an argument was put forward that same sex union people can adopt child but before putting that law into action the law was stalled (Detenber, Cenite, Zhou, Malik & Neo, 2014).There was a similar scenario in Taiwan and there was many judiciary issues regarding this matter and many problems came forward and for this reasons the law was stalled by the parliament because this issue can create many societal problems. There was also a thought of passing a law that same union sex could protect their family structure, traditions and values. After many studies it was found out that 377A cannot be determined as a symbol of non- religious state and to balance it with the secular state 377A could not achieve neutrality (Chen, 2012).  

At the end in a nutshell it can be concluded that passing the Section 377A of the Penal Code has got numerous mixed reactions from different religions.  Christians thinks that it is a sin but the Hindus are favoring this (Hertz, Wald & Shuster, 2010).It is also seen that there is many wrong information regarding this matter and researchers have found out that knowledge about sex education can change the mind-set of the people. So it can be said that homosexuality is not illegal but to the people of Singapore are taught that same union sex is illegal (Chua, 2011).



Benoit, M. (2005). Conflict Between Religious Commitment and Same-Sex Attraction: Possibilities for a Virtuous Response. Ethics & Behavior15(4), 309-325. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb1504_3

Chang, P. (2012). Singapore's Cultural Experimentation: Gay Rights, Stem Cells, Casinos and the Evangelical Response. Religion, State And Society40(2), 192-211. doi:10.1080/09637494.2012.677775

Chen, J. (2012). Singapore's Culture War over Section 377A: Through the Lens of Public Choice and Multilingual Research. Law & Social Inquiry38(1), 106-137. doi:10.1111/j.1747-4469.2012.01297.x

Chua, L. (2011). How Does Law Matter to Social Movements? A Case Study of Gay Activism in Singapore. Berkeley, CA.

Chua, L. (2012). Pragmatic Resistance, Law, and Social Movements in Authoritarian States: The Case of Gay Collective Action in Singapore. Law & Soc'y Rev46(4), 713-748. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5893.2012.00515.x

Detenber, B., Cenite, M., Zhou, S., Malik, S., & Neo, R. (2014). Rights Versus Morality: Online Debate About Decriminalization of Gay Sex in Singapore. Journal Of Homosexuality61(9), 1313-1333. doi:10.1080/00918369.2014.926769

Dziengel, L. (2010). Advocacy Coalitions and Punctuated Equilibrium in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Learning from Pro-LGBT Policy Changes in Minneapolis and Minnesota. Journal Of Gay & Lesbian Social Services22(1-2), 165-182. doi:10.1080/10538720903332578

Fernandez, J., & Lutter, M. (2013). Supranational cultural norms, domestic value orientations and the diffusion of same-sex union rights in Europe, 1988-2009. International Sociology28(1), 102-120. doi:10.1177/0268580912466881

Hertz, F., Wald, D., & Shuster, S. (2010). Erratum: “Integrated approaches to resolving same-sex dissolutions” from Conflict Resolution Quarterly, winter 2009, volume 27, number 2, pages 123-143. Conflict Resolution Quarterly27(4), 469-469. doi:10.1002/crq.20007

Lipkin, A. (2004). Gay-Straight Alliances. Journal Of Gay & Lesbian Issues In Education1(3), 3-5. doi:10.1300/j367v01n03_02

Rycenga, J. (2009). Re-Thinking Marriage: Religious Authority and Religious Imagination in Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage. Religious Studies Review35(1), 1-11. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0922.2009.01310.x

Whitehead, A. (2014). Politics, Religion, Attribution Theory, and Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Unions.Social Science Quarterly95(3), 701-718. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12085

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