Buddhist group president for revocation of 377A, the latest news from Singapore



The President of the Buddhist Fellowship said yesterday that he agrees to repeal section 377A of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes sex between men.

Separately, the group behind the last attempt to revoke the law kept its first town hall, where it urged the public to contact their MPs – the first time the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement has asked supporters to attract politicians on a large scale.

In a statement on the Facebook page of the Buddhist Fellowship, President Lim Phang Hong said that the Buddha's teachings encourage Buddhists to develop understanding and care for all communities regardless of race, religion, language or sexual orientation.

He told The Straits Times that he spoke in a personal capacity and wanted to explain the teachings of Buddha, because he was afraid that people might have a wrong view of Buddhism.

At the Singapore Management University, the town hall of Ready4Repeal attracted 818 participants. The group shared updates on the petition submitted to the government and explained the following steps.

After LGBT people shared how 377A encouraged others to harm them, petition co-author Johannes Hadi begged people to bring their stories to MPs.

"Stories are how you can change the conversation, because if you do not speak, the government and society will see this as evidence that there is no hatred and suffering," he said.

Disc jockey Johnson Ong filed a case in the Supreme Court on September 10, arguing that the law is unconstitutional and that a decision of 2014 is not correct.

The Ready4Repeal petition was submitted to the Ministries of the Interior and Legislation last Friday. It received 44,650 signatures.

When asked, a spokesman said that the ministries had received the petition.

"However, as the government has recently made clear, there are no plans to withdraw Section 377A."

CHURCHES

Some religious organizations have objected to the repeal of the law, including the National Council of Churches and the head of the Catholic Church in Singapore, who said that in the current circumstances the law may not be repealed. The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association said that a repeal of section 377A could have various "disturbing implications".

A petition calling for the retention of Article 377A on the grounds that a withdrawal "normalizes" homosexual behavior and leads to a greater push for other LGBT "rights" has nearly 109,000 signatures.


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