Singapore Laws Pertaining to Gays
in answer to a question posed on the SIGNeL E-mail forum
"To the best of my knowledge, there are three parts of the Singapore penal code that may impact on us.
It is not, however, illegal to be homosexual. The government uses administrative measures to impede discussion of homosexuality and the formation of societies connected with homosexuality. Through the frequent use of such administrative measures, and the use of the sodomy law against homosexual acts, the government creates a climate of fear which misleads people to think it would be a crime to be homosexual in orientation and to hide that aspect of themselves. Anybody can proclaim loudly on TV, radio, or on City Hall steps that he/she is homosexual. And I do not believe there is any law that says we can't discuss it. Some hypothetical examples:
- Unnatural sex. Singapore Penal code 377 states that "Whosoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine." The term 'unnatural sex' has for many years been interpreted to mean sodomy and oral sex. So if the penis goes into somebody's anus or mouth, this clause applies, even if both are adults and consenting.
- Gross Indecency. Penal code 377(A) states that "Any male person who, in public or PRIVATE, commits or abets the commission of or procures 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." This clause is unique in that it specifically says it applies to men only. "Gross indecency" is a wide term which, from precedents, covers mutual masturbation, indecent physical contact to the groin, or even indecent behaviour without physical contact. Again the law applies even if both are adult and consenting, and whether or not the act was commited in private.
- Outrage of Modesty. (Can't remember the section number). This is pretty obvious. If you reach into somebody's private zone without consent, then that's it!
Can the police lock you up becuase of the fact that you are gay? No. Because you are in a relation with another male? No, unless they can prove that you had sex with your bf. You can always love, it's just that you aren't allowed to have sex." -- compiled fom two anonymous postings, 1997
- Wearing a T-shirt on the street saying 'Nobody knows I'm gay': not illegal.
- Two men or two women holding hands: not illegal -- we see it all the time don't we? By the way, I do see dykes holding hands, strolling down the street in Singapore.
- Brief goodbye kiss on the lips at the airport: probably not illegal. If the immigration officer thinks he's a guardian of morals, he may haul you in, but I doubt if a senior police officer reviewing the case will ever charge you for anything. You'll probably just suffer inconvenience.
- Fondling each other in the swimming pool (with swimsuit on): Lifeguard may inconvenience/humiliate you, but I doubt if you'll be charged.
- French kissing in park: potential gross indecency, but could still be borderline. Don't think anyone has ever been convicted for gross indecency just because of kissing.
- Mutual masturbation at Fort Road or back seat of a car: gross indecency AND unnatural sex if your mouth got anywhere near 'it.'