Homosexuality in Singapore
A Singapore student challenged homosexuality education on a live news discussion TV show in Singapore this week. During a panel show with teachers and a representative from the Ministry of Education, student Melissa Tsang questioned the kind of counselling a school would give to queer kids. In response to Mohana Eswaran, a teacher at a Secondary School in Singapore, who said she would refer students asking about homosexuality to school counsellors, Tsang said:
What kind of counselling are you going to give this child? Are you going to support this child or are you going to portray homosexuality or transgenderism in the light of deviancy?
Tsang also pointed out that as homosexual acts are criminalized in Singapore, so teachers cannot inform students of the legal situation without making the student think that homosexuality is criminal. Liew Wei Li from the Ministry of Education responded:
We understand this is quite sensitive, so we actually give you full information about the legal provisions about the homosexual acts. So we don’t criminalize homosexuality at all. No counsellor will want to make a child feel bad. You want them to have the full information.
Consensual sex between two adult men is illegal in Singapore under Section 377A of the Penal Code. An October 2007 review of the code repealed the parts of Section 377 which made anal and oral sex between heterosexual couples and lesbians illegal, but Section 377A remained. During a long parliamentary speech on the matter at the time of the repeal, the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government would not proactively enforce Section 377, but they would not repeal it:
If we abolish it, we may be sending the wrong signal that our stance has changed, and the rules have shifted… Therefore, we have decided to keep the status quo on section 377A. It is better to accept the legal untidiness and the ambiguity. It works, do not disturb it.