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Church calls for safeguarding marriage, family in Singapore

The government aims to amend British-era Penal Code that criminalizes same-sex in the city-state

A family prays at the Buddha-tooth relic temple on the eve of the Lunar New Year of the Tiger in the Chinatown district in Singapore on Jan. 31

A family prays at the Buddha-tooth relic temple on the eve of the Lunar New Year of the Tiger in the Chinatown district in Singapore on Jan. 31. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 03, 2022 10:37 AM GMT

Updated: August 03, 2022 10:54 AM GMT

Singapore Catholic Archdiocese has re-emphasized safeguarding marriage and families as the Singapore government plans to repeal a law that hitherto criminalizes same-sex in the city-state.

“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore would like to re-emphasize the Church’s stand and well-known position, that marriage is between a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love, where both partners complement each other,” Archdiocesan Communication Office said in a statement on July 31. 

“The fruitfulness of marriage also necessitates that marriage must be open to procreation,” it stated.

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The statement also said that the Archdiocese and its adherents respect the dignity of LGBTQ persons.

The archdiocese reminded that LGBTQ persons too should respect “our rights to maintain our position on marriage” and that “the family unit comprises a father, mother, and their children.”

The archdiocese said that the state might consider repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalizes same-sex, but the church remains firm in its position to safeguard marriage and family life.

Section 377A 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.”

The Section faced criticism at home and abroad for being outdated and discriminatory.

“Should Section 377A of the Penal Code be repealed, our concern is for marriage between a man and a woman to remain the institution of nature that is safeguarded and even enshrined in the Constitution of the country as the natural structure of human society,” the archdiocese said.

The statement was issued a week after an event called Protect Singapore Townhall held on July 23.

The closed-door, ticketed event stirred up controversy as the event was viewed as an opposition against the repealing of section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code that criminalizes gay sex.

The Archdiocese stated that “the organizers and participants are individuals who have a right to speak up and defend marriage, so long as they are not denigrating others,” referring to the event.

The event was merely to highlight the "impact of LGBTQ+ activism and not to spread hate,” said Jason Wong, founder of the Yellow Ribbon Project, Channel News Asia reported.

Religious groups have also supported the government's decision of updating the law for the promotion of inclusiveness in Singaporean society.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said that they, “appreciate the Government’s emphasis on the preservation of social cohesion even as it manages diversity so that our society is an inclusive one," CNA reported.

A spokesperson for the Sikh Advisory Board said that the organization agrees with the "balanced approach" that the court has taken on the appeal against Section 377A.

Government officials hinted that whereas same-sex is being decriminalized, it is unlikely gay marriage would be allowed.

While the regulation is being reviewed, “at the same time we are considering how can we safeguard the current legal position on marriage from being challenged in the courts,” Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in a video on Facebook. “We are now considering how best to achieve this balance.” 

A survey conducted by Ipsos this year found that 45 percent of respondents were positive about same-sex relationships, a higher figure than the 2018 survey. It also found that 20 percent opposed Section 377A, a rise from 12 percent in 2018.

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