LGBT rights in Singapore
|LGBT rights in Singapore|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Male illegal (rarely enforced)
|Up to 2 years|
|Gender identity/expression||Transsexual persons allowed to change legal gender|
|Military service||Gay men required to attend National Service, but restricted to limited duties.|
|No formal recognition|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Singapore face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal, though the law is generally not enforced.
- 1 Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
- 2 Legislation from October 2007
- 3 Government
- 4 Summary table
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
The age of consent in Singapore is 16 for all opposite-sex activity and only female same-sex sexual activity: Section 140: (1) Any person who – (...) (i) has carnal connection with any girl below the age of 16 years except by way of marriage (...) – shall be guilty of an offence.
Under section 377A (outrages on decency) in the Penal Code states that; 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. This means that all male same-sex sexual activity (including mutual masturbation, oral and/or anal sex) is still illegal and the punishment is up to two (2) years jail, based on the Offences Against The Person Act 1861.
Legislation from October 2007
After the exhaustive Penal Code review in 2007, oral and anal sex were legalised for heterosexuals and female homosexuals only. The changes meant that oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexual and female homosexual adults were no longer offences but section 377A, which dealt with gross indecency between consenting men, remained in force. Kumaralingam Amirthalingam a Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore has argued that it may not apply to anal sex between males.
In his concluding speech on the debate over the repeal of Section 377A, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told MPs before the vote that "Singapore is basically a conservative society...The family is the basic building block of this society. And by family in Singapore we mean one man, one woman, marrying, having children and bringing up children within that framework of a stable family unit."
On 29 October 2014 a Singapore Supreme Court ruling upheld the country’s ban on same-sex relations between consenting adult men. The Supreme Court held that section 377A of Singapore’ penal code, which criminalises sexual intimacy between men, does not violate articles 9 and 12 of the country’s constitution. These articles guarantee the right to life and personal liberty, and provide that all people are entitled to equal protection before the law.
Section 377A of the Penal Code
Section 377A ("Outrages on decency") states that:
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.
Section 377A remains sporadically enforced. The last time this law was used to charge a defendant was in November 2010 
Section 354 of the Penal Code (Outrage of Modesty)
Section 354 provides that if any person uses criminal force on any person intending to outrage, or knowing it would be likely to outrage, the modesty of that person, he shall be imprisoned for a maximum of 2 years, or with fine, or with caning, or with any 2 of such punishments.
Section 354 requires that the police or someone be touched. However, if no physical contact is made, homosexual behaviour can also be charged under Section 294A (see below).
Section 294A of the Penal Code (Obscene Act)
If the victim of an entrapment operation uses a symbolic gesture to signal intention to have sexual activity with the police decoy, he can be tried under section 294A of the Penal Code, which covers the commission of any obscene act in any public place to the annoyance of others (subject to a maximum of 3 months' jail, a fine, or both). From 1990 to 1994, there were 6 cases of obscene acts brought before the courts in this context. The accused were fined between $200–$800.
Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act
The police can use section 19 (soliciting in a public place) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which covers both prostitution and soliciting "for any other immoral purpose". This offence carries a fine of up to $1,000, doubling on a subsequent conviction, including a jail term not exceeding 6 months.
According to documentation by National University of Singapore sociologist Laurence Leong Wai Teng, from 1990–94, there were 11 cases where gay men were charged for soliciting. They were fined between $200–$500. However, a Lawnet search revealed no reported cases of persons being charged under section 19. This does not mean, however that no persons were charged. They could have pleaded guilty and avoided trial, resulting in the absence of case law.
Prior to 2003, homosexuals were barred from being employed in "sensitive positions" within the Singapore Civil Service.
The most widely known and infamous classification is Category 302, a medical code given to personnel who are "homosexuals, transvestites, paedophiles, etc." Category 302 (popularly referred to as "cat 302") homosexuals are further classified into those "with effeminate behaviour" and those "without effeminate behaviour".
Self-declared or discovered servicemen are referred to the Psychological Medicine Branch of the Headquarters of Medical Services for a thorough psychiatric assessment, which involves their parents being called in for an interview.
They are medically downgraded to a Physical Employment Status of C (PES C), regardless of their level of fitness, and put through modified Basic Military Training. On graduation, they are deployed in a vocation which has no security risks, posted to non-sensitive units and given a security status which restricts their access to classified documents.
Formerly, Category 302 personnel were not allowed to stay overnight in-camp, nor were they required to perform night duties, but these restrictions have been relaxed. "Effeminate" homosexuals are also posted to a holding list upon completion of National Service and not required to do reservist training, whilst "non-effeminate" ones have to undergo it in non-sensitive units.
A less well known classification is Category 30-B, a medical code given to servicemen "with effeminate behaviour not amounting to sexual disorders". These individuals are further subdivided into "mildly effeminate", "effeminate" and "severely effeminate".
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports
In January 2006 the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) granted S$100,000 (US$61,500) to Liberty League, an organisation affiliated with the ex-gay movement which "promotes gender and sexual health for the individual, family and society".
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||For male (Penalty: Up to 2 years imprisonment; not enforced) / For female|
|Equal age of consent||For male / For female|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Step-child adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military||/ Gays and lesbians are not allowed to go to command school or serve in sensitive units.|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- Human rights in Singapore
- LGBT culture in Singapore
- LGBT history in Singapore
- Transgender people in Singapore
- Singapore Statutes OnLine
- Singapore: Court Ruling a Major Setback for Gay Rights, Human Rights Watch, 29 October 2014
- Simon Elegant (7 July 2003). "The Lion In Winter". Time Asia.
- Sylvia Tan (17 January 2006). "Singapore government awards S$100,000 grant to group with ex-gay affiliation". Fridae.com.
- Lim Wee Kuan (1 October 2002). "Gay Law: Emancipation And Emasculation". Retrieved 30 August 2006.
- Singapore keeps ban on sex between men, RTHK, retrieved 24 October 2007.