Who We Are
Theatre director and filmmaker. Co-Artistic Director, W!LD RICE. Chair, Asian Film Archive. Director, Emma Yong Foundation
I was raised by my parents to judge the measure of a man by the way he treats the poor, the marginalised, the disenfranchised. So too can Singapore be measured by the way we treat our minorities. Since 1938, gay men in Singapore have had to live as criminals and second-class citizens -- in hiding, in shame, and in fear. As our nation progresses and comes of age, I feel strongly that we must strive to be a true democracy where all are treated equally under the law. We must protect the rights of our minorities, who are our family members, our friends, our colleagues, and our fellow citizens. This is the time in our nation’s history to take a stand and make a difference.
Practice Trainee, Eugene Thuraisingam LLP
When I was young, my parents taught me always to be grateful for what I have. The only time you should look into your neighbour’s bowl, I was told, is to check if he is lacking. Where he is short, share what you have. As a young straight man, my bowl overflows with privilege. I am free to be who I am. But I know that my gay friends and relatives are harmed everyday by a law that criminalises the way they live and love. Whatever you may believe about the (im)morality of homosexuality, its continued criminalisation is inequitable and much too extreme. I am so ready for us to love our neighbours better. Are you?
His Excellency Professor Tommy Koh
Ambassador-at-Large, Rector of Tembusu College, formerly Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador to the USA, President of the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, Dean of NUS Faculty of Law, and Chairman of the National Arts Council and National Heritage Board
377A is a bad and unjust law. In my view it is also a violation of our constitution.
Professor Kishore Mahbubani
Senior Advisor (University & Global Relations) of NUS, former Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, former Singapore Ambassador to the United Nations, and former President of the UN Security Council
PROFESSOR WALTER WOON
Former Attorney-General, Nominated Member of Parliament and Legal Advisor to the President of Singapore and Council of Presidential Advisors
We cannot have a crime which is not enforced. The Government should not tell the Public Prosecutor that some things are crimes but there will be no prosecution. This is a slippery slope that we should not go down. The key issue is whether consenting adult males should go to jail for having sex. This is independent of the morality of homosexuality, which appears to be the focus of the debate. Even a person who thinks homosexuality is wrong may want to reflect on whether a jail sentence is appropriate for this. Adultery is not a crime, yet it is clearly wrong. It is essential for intellectual clarity to distinguish between morality and criminality. For those who think it is a sin: this is a matter between the individual and God, for homosexuals, just as for adulterers and fornicators.
Ho Kwon Ping
Founder and Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings and Founding Chairman of SMU Board of Trustees
The stated promise to not prosecute anyone under 377A is not just cold comfort to gay men; it is in today’s world, an anachronistic affront to basic human rights.
Co-Founder of Banyan Tree Holdings, former Nominated Member of Parliament, and member of the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame
Hsieh Fu Hua
Chairman of NUS Board of Trustees, former president of NCSS and Chairman National Gallery, former Chairman of UOB and former CEO of SGX
It is my fervent hope that we can make this country home for all, rich and poor, young and old, well and sick, able and disadvantaged, locals and migrants, regardless of origin, creed, shade and sexual orientation.
THERESA FOO & HAROLD FOO
Chair, Yale-NUS College Governing Board and Executive Chairman, Shangri-La Hotel Limited, Singapore
Owner of COMO Group, former Chairman of National Parks Board, and member of the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame
SAT PAL KHATTAR
Founding Partner of KhattarWong LLP, Chairman of Khattar Holdings, former President of the Hindu Advisory Board, former member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, and life trustee of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA)
Professor Tan Tai Yong
President of Yale-NUS College, 6th IPS S R Nathan Fellow, and former Nominated Member of Parliament
377A is an archaic law, a colonial era ruling that has no relevance in modern Singapore. The government does not want to enforce it in any case, so why have a law that is not enforced? Personally, I think it is wrong to criminalise a group of citizens, which S377A, even if not enforced, threatens to do.
Professor Tan Sook Yee
Former Dean of NUS Law School
Professor RoY CHAN
Founder and President, Action for Aids and former Director of the National Skin Centre
377A belongs to the scrap heap of discriminatory and bigoted laws. It is a relic of previous British colonial overlords and does not reflect true Asian systems. It has and continues to harm people, especially the psychological health of young gay men.
PROFESSOR Cherian George
Professor of Media Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University and Author, “Singapore, Incomplete: Reflections on a First World Nation’s Arrested Political Development”
I respect the view of many people of faith that gay sex is immoral and a violation of their religious beliefs. But I have never come across any persuasive argument that these religious norms must be mirrored by the secular law of the land. Not everything that’s regarded as immoral should be made illegal. This is especially true when the proposed norms are in conflict with fundamental values like equality, on which our coexistence in a diverse society depends.
Associate Professor Teo You Yenn
Associate Professor in Sociology, NTU
As a member of our society, I do not accept that 377A speaks for me. We cannot speak of rights -- to justice, to equality -- as long as there are laws which specifically carve out symbolic exclusions of some members of our society, in this case gay persons. The thing about rights is that they are delicate and must be protected. The moment you make exclusions, they cease to be rights. You harm the integrity of the very concept and the very ethos embodied in the notion of rights, the moment that you make excuses for not upholding them for some groups. We cannot speak about equality and about justice on one hand and then make specific exclusions to exclude groups on the other.
I am grateful to all the LGBTQ activists who have worked tirelessly over the years. When 377A is repealed, it will benefit everyone, regardless of whether they supported the repeal. We will be that much closer to living in a society that recognises each of us as individuals whose worth, dignity, and belonging is inherent rather than conditional.
LIM PHANG HONG
President of Buddhist Fellowship, Singapore.
The Buddha’s teachings of empathy and compassion for all living beings encourage us to develop understanding and care for all communities regardless of their race, religion, language or sexual orientation.
In this same spirit of care, empathy and compassion, I support the repealing of any law which criminalises, discriminates or marginalises particular groups. We seek to reconcile marginalised communities with society, in a way that promotes respect and harmony across different communities in Singapore and the world.
‘With a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings’- Metta Sutta.
Lawyer and playwright
The time is always right to do what is right. — Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr Finian and Fiona Tan
Co-Founder and Chairman of Vickers Venture Partners and wife
Many of the smartest and most creative people we know are gay. They contribute greatly to society. Let’s repeal this arcane law that even the colonial masters who put it there in the first place, repealed in their own country in 1967, 51 years ago, 2 years after our independence. It doesn’t cost people anything. And yet it helps the LGBT community such a great deal. We feel that this is something that the government should take a lead in and not leave to the majority to decide. LGBT are a minority and will always be disadvantaged if left to the majority. We want our kids to live in a country where discrimination is not condoned and that you can do great regardless of any differences you may have.
Yeoh Lam Keong
Former Chief Economist of GIC
Not being open to legal persecution under a law like 377A should be recognised as a basic human right, its existence in decent, civilised society should be unacceptable.
Janice Koh & Lionel Yeo
Actress and former Nominated Member of Parliament and her husband
Repealing 377A positively impacts those who otherwise have to live their lives being discriminated against in our law. Decriminalising gay sex gives gay men their legitimate place in our society.
At the same time, the repeal does not stop anyone from holding on to their personal beliefs, or prevent parents from teaching their children the values they want to teach.
As parents, we would like our children to know that our gay friends and colleagues, whom we respect and love, are not seen as criminals in the eyes of this country we call home. It is also a teachable moment for our children -- to understand that societies can make progress over time as we deepen our understanding of the human condition.
Dr Kanwaljit Soin
Consultant, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, first female Nominated Member of Parliament, Singapore Woman of the Year 1992, and recipient of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award by the United Nations Development Fund for Women
The gay community is being criminalised by an archaic law from colonial times. Britain removed this law more than 50 years ago and now our giant Asian neighbour, India, has also removed it from its statutes.
It behoves us to do the same especially since it has been scientifically shown that homosexuality is due to differences in our brains, and not just a lifestyle choice.
Even our esteemed first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, said in 2007, "If in fact it is true -- and I have asked doctors this -- that you are genetically born a homosexual, because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes, you can't help it -- so why should we criminalise it?”
Let us take the advice of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and repeal section 377A.
Former President of AWARE and member of the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame.
My social activism of more than 30 years have been motivated by a dream, an ideal, I hold for a just and fair society where people of all cultures, races, religions, minorities, and the marginalised are treated equally and with dignity before the law of the land. In such a society article 377A is an aberration and should be repealed.
Personally, I find it unthinkable that so many people, that I love and respect are treated as criminals because they are gay. They are my friends, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. So many of them are our creative champions who have contributed to our wellbeing and who have made us, proud.
A discriminatory, bigoted law such as 377A has no place in our country.
Executive Director, AWARE and former Partner at Allen & Gledhill and KhattarWong
Section 377A hurts us in so many ways. Although it is not enforced by the State, its existence embeds and justifies the right to treat gay persons as “the other”, as deviants or people who are somehow flawed.
It’s 2018. We are modernising the Penal Code. Let’s live up to our values of being an inclusive society that cares for, protects and values all members of our society. We are more than READY FOR REPEAL of Section 377A.
President of MARUAH and former Nominated Member of Parliament
Repealing 377A is long overdue -- it is an archaic and an unenforced law. That's the first real action that the government must make -- repeal it. Second step is to say true to the fact that every citizen has equality and not choose which citizen ought to have an equal status. The third step is to recognise as a government that we are a secular country -- there's no backpedaling on that. As a fourth step we encourage those who struggle to give an equal status to people with non-heterosexual behaviour or who are transgender, more time for discourses to find their own workable approaches to diversity and be part of the Singapore fabric. We have put up too many blockages -- it is time to break that wall and let people be equal and NOT have people hide away to be who they are.
Founding Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Peranakan Museum
Tan Siok Sun
Author of “Goh Keng Swee: a Portrait”, Chairman of W!ld Rice Ltd, Board member, Asian Civilisation Museum
377A is unconstitutional as it specifically discriminates a significant group of citizens.
Chew Kheng Chuan
Chairman, Substation Ltd, former Vice President of Endowment and Institutional Development at NUS, and former Chief University Advancement Officer at NTU
S377A is a bad law whose time has gone. The time has come to repeal it.
Dr Mary Ann Tsao
Chairman, Tsao Foundation and recipient of the Public Service Star (Bar) in 2015
PETER CUTHBERT LOW
Past President of the Law Society of Singapore, Former member of the Board of Governors, Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Schools, and Founding Member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild
My view on S377A aligns with the correct position of the Catholic Church, as expressed by the Holy See to the UN in 2008: every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and States should do away with criminal penalties against them.
Section 377A is morally and legally indefensible. It should be repealed now.
Deborah Barker, SC
Senior Counsel, Managing Partner and Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution, KhattarWong
S377A is an unfortunate vestige of our colonial history. It does not sit well with an inclusive society and should be removed from the statute books of our modern and diverse nation.
Harpreet Singh Nehal, SC
Senior Counsel and Managing Partner of Cavenagh Law LLP
Siew Kum Hong
APAC Regional Director of Airbnb and former Nominated Member of Parliament
In 2007, I submitted a citizens’ petition to repeal 377A, signed by over 2000 Singaporeans, to Parliament. 11 years later, we have seen so much progress on this issue in society, and yet 377A remains on the books. In 2018 as in 2007, the time to repeal is now. I can do no better than to quote from my speech in Parliament in October 2007:
“Some have said that Singapore is not ready, that this is not the right time to repeal 377A.
I disagree. I say that there is no wrong time to do the right thing. Now is the time, not to do the pragmatic or practical thing, but to do the right thing.
Now is the time, to turn our backs on prejudice, discrimination, intolerance and hatred.
Now is the time, for [Parliament], which represents all Singaporeans, to lead by example.
Now is the time, to uphold the noble ideals of our founding fathers, ideals upon which our country was founded and which hold our society together. The ideals of a democratic society, based on justice and equality. The ideal of all persons being equal before the law, and all persons having the equal protection of the law.
Now is the time, to do the right thing and repeal 377A.
DR GEH MIN
Former Nominated Member of Parliament
The world & humans face enough serious problems requiring our cooperation. Why create unnecessary divisions?
Singapore is a modern nation and soon we hope we will be a Smart Nation. With all the advancement we have made and the future we aspire to, its hard to reconcile that we still have an archaic law like Section 377A on the books. I am requesting the government to review Section 377A and repeal it on behalf of our children. Let our children grow up in a society where they feel comfortable being who they are and have the freedom to love who they want. We have made a lot of progress in getting beyond anachronistic distinctions like gender, race and religion. It is now time to cast aside this one and fully embrace our LGBTQ brethren into our Singapore family.
Founder and CEO, 99.co
No one will dispute slavery is wrong today, but it wasn't long ago that we had to struggle with it. Someday it’s going to be the same with equal rights for LGBTQ. Should we not be the ones leading the charge of progress? Or are we so afraid to be wrong that we have to wait to be proven right?
Loh Lik Peng
Founder and Director, Unlisted Collection
Wee Teng Wen
Managing Partner, Lo & Behold Group
Former Nominated Member of Parliament
Kok Heng Leun
Nominated Member of Parliament, Artistic Director of Drama Box, and Adviser to the National Arts Council
Being LGBTQ is not a lifestyle. Being LGBTQ is simply being who they are. Just like any one of us, the LGBTQ community deserves basic human rights to be free, independent, and treated equally and justly.
Legislation is by definition the law. If the law says that something is a criminal act, it means that someone committing the act is a criminal. Whether the act is being actively enforced or otherwise is irrelevant. Even if 377A is supposedly not being enforced, our LGBTQ community still remains criminals in the eyes of the law for simply being who they are.
In the proclamation of Singapore’s independence, it is stated: “whereas it is the inalienable right of a people to be free and independent”. It did not say that this inalienable right is meant only for a specific group of people. It certainly did not ostracise any demographic. We, as a people, regardless of our differences, deserve the inalienable right to be free and independent, to exist and be acknowledged, and to live our lives fully without stigma, without denial of human rights.
Repeal 377A. It is only right to do so now and not later.
Director and Founding Partner, Kids 21 and Director of Singapore Repertory Theatre
Founder and Managing Director, Greenology
All Singaporeans should be counted equally and allowed to contribute fully of themselves to a nation that they call home, irrespective of who of how they choose to love. Section 377A has no place in that nation. Not now. Not ever.
Action for AIDS, Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE), Break The Binary, Free Community Church, Indignation, Humanist Society Singapore, Inter-Uni LGBT Network, MARUAH, Oogachaga, Out in Singapore, Pink Dot SG, Pelangi Pride Centre, Project X, Prout, SAFE, Sayoni, SG Narratives, SG Rainbow, Singapore LGBT Law, The Bear Project, The Bi+ Collective SG and The T Project.