‘We’re not like San Francisco’: Singapore PM Lee on Pink Dot, LGBT rights

Prime Minister Lee speaking at the Smart Nation Summit. Photo: Coconuts Media
Prime Minister Lee speaking at the Smart Nation Summit. Photo: Coconuts Media

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered a rare public comment on Section 377A of the Penal Code, which outlaws homosexuality, today at a conference at Marina Bay Sands.

After speaking as the guest of honor at the Smart Nation Summit, Prime Minister Lee took a question from an audience member who asked about inclusiveness, especially for foreign workers, and what he thought about the annual pro LGBT+ rights rally, Pink Dot, scheduled to take place this Saturday.

“About inclusiveness, we are open. You know our rules in Singapore, whatever your sexuality orientation is, you’re welcome to come and work in Singapore. Some people have an issue with the 377a, which is our legislation on… I’m not sure exactly what the clause says, but basically it’s against homosexual acts. Which remains legislation and it will for some time,” responded the Prime Minister.

“But it has not inhibited people from living. It has not stopped Pink Dot from having a gathering every year. And it’s the way this society is. We’re not like San Francisco, neither are we like certain countries in the Middle East. It’s something in between. It’s the way our society is,” he concluded.

Section 377A criminalizes sex between men and is a remnant of British colonial-era laws. In recent years, a movement to repeal the anti-gay law has gained momentum centered around the Pink Dot event.

The full text of Section 377A of the Penal Code in Singapore is below

“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.

Pink Dot 2019 will be held this Saturday, June 26, at Hong Lim Park in Singapore. 

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