Singapore’s parliament on Tuesday (29 Nov) repealed a law criminalising sex between men, striking down colonial-era legislation that has long been criticised as discriminatory and stigmatising to the LGBTQ community.

The law, Section 377A, penalised sex between men with up to two years in jail, although the statute was not actively enforced.

Parliament, however, also amended the constitution to uphold the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively blocking full marriage equality.

The moves follow several failed attempts to have the gay sex legislation repealed in the courts, with a panel of judges ruling in February that the law held symbolic weight but it could not be actively enforced.

Parliament voted 93 in favour of the repeal, with three against and no abstentions while 92 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favour of the constitutional amendment with two objections and two abstentions.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) did not lift its party whip for its MPs in the two votes while Workers’ Party had its party whip lifted with three MPs objecting to the repeal due to their personal beliefs and two abstaining from voting in the constitutional amendment due to concerns over the removal of judicial oversight.

Progress Singapore Party’s two Non-constituency MPs voted in support of the repeal of 377A and against the constitutional amendment as the party is of the opinion to call for a national referendum to define marriage in Singapore.

“I am happy that it had finally happened,” a member of the LGBTQ community who wanted to be known only by his first name Justin told AFP.

“One less reason for me to hide my true self, because of some archaic law. But this is just the first step to remove the social and religious stigma that has been upon the community because of outdated beliefs, and media censorship.”

(Inputs from AFP)

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