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Local religious groups chime in their opposition against decriminalizing sex between men

Coconuts logo Coconuts 20/9/2018 Coconuts Singapore
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Decriminalizing consensual sex between men is a slippery slope that could lead to the utter devastation of Singapore, according to local religious groups.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore and the country’s collective of Islamic scholars and religious teachers have chipped in their two cents into the ongoing debate on whether Section 377A of the Penal Code should be abolished. Naturally, the conservative representatives of the local Catholic and Muslim communities have outrightly rejected the notions that the colonial-era law should be repealed. Even though it’s 2018, and even India thought it wise to abolish their version of the ruling earlier this month.

In each of their statements on the matter, they shared their fears that repealing Section 377A would only lead the country to a dark path — one that could possibly end in the criminalization of those who are anti-LGBTQ and reduced population growth. Really. Check out what each of them brought up below.

Archbishop William Goh

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In a letter posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore website, the head of the Catholic Church in Singapore urged the Catholic community here not to stay silent on the issue and voice out their stance to the government. Catholics, he said, need to make a “conscientious decision” to reject the repeal for the “future of our families, humanity, and society”.

“… I share the anxieties and fears of those who subscribe to the traditional and scriptural views of marriage and family, that repealing S377A would lead the country down a slippery slope,” Archbishop Goh wrote.

“This is because repealing the law will not be the end of the saga. Rather, it would only embolden the push to legalise same-sex unions, adoption of babies by same-sex couples, surrogacy, and even the criminalisation of those who hold contrary views of marriage and who oppose same-sex unions.”

He also stated that he would agree to the abolishment of Section 377A only if the “rights of the majority” are guaranteed.

“Indeed, I would not object to a repeal of S377A if it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals. However, until and unless Parliament puts in place a formulation that more perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the law, guaranteeing the protection of the rights of the majority who favor the traditional family, and that no further demands be made to legalize same-sex unions, adoption of babies by same-sex couples, surrogacy, or to criminalize those who do not support the homosexual lifestyle, I am of the view that S377A should not be repealed under the present circumstances. This is because, by accepting homosexual acts as a social norm, the dreadful consequences for the stability of our families, the well-being of our children, and the risks to the common good will be long-term and irreversible.”

The Singapore Islamic Scholars & Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS)

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The association representing Singapore’s Muslim scholars and religious teachers issued the stance that they do not support the attempt to repeal Section 377A based not only on religious grounds, but also based on their concern for the “fabric of society”.

“The repeal of this Act can cause several worrying implications. Among them, it will threaten the importance of the traditional family unit as the foundation of a society,” PERGAS noted in a media statement.

The affirmation of the LGBTQ lifestyle conflicts with the government’s policy of building strong family units, the association reminded.

“PERGAS is of the opinion that if the act is to be repealed, it will further affect the population growth of this country, which we understand is a major concern of the government”.

Kill ‘em with kindness

Despite their steadfast stand against the effort to repeal Section 377A, both sides also urged their congregation to act kindly to the LGBTQ community.

“Our relationship with those from the LGBTQ community, just as how we interact with others, should be filled with mercy as we extend kindness to all,” wrote PERGAS.

“Hence, one should never isolate, exclude nor insult those who feel they belong to the LGBTQ community. Instead, PERGAS calls upon Muslims to approach them with kindness, and to support them to return to the true teachings of Islam”.

The same sentiments were noted by Archbishop Goh.

“…I want to make it clear that all the faithful are important to me, regardless whether they have same- or opposite-sex attraction. Like the Lord, I care for every child of God that has been entrusted to me,” he wrote.

I feel with them when they are ostracised or marginalised by society. They too deserve to be loved and treated with dignity and respect. Indeed, the Church advocates, ‘every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and [the Church] urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them’”.

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