The Associated Press Published: November 9, 2006
SINGAPORE: Singapore plans to decriminalize oral and anal sex for adult heterosexuals under legislation unveiled Thursday, but the government said sex between homosexuals will remain banned.
The government posted proposed amendments to the city-state's Penal Code — the result of a three-year review — on a Web site, and Singaporeans have a month to offer feedback. The Ministry of Home Affairs will consider the input before presenting the proposals to Parliament early next year.
The amendments that have generated the most water-cooler buzz in strait-laced Singapore are those that would legalize oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexuals over age 16 — and the retention of the law against acts between homosexuals.
That drew immediate criticism from People Like Us, a gay rights group.
"If the government aims for an open, inclusive society, it should be doing all it can to overturn prejudice and discrimination, rather than give people reason to remain close-minded through retaining (the ban) for symbolic purposes," the group said in a statement.
The Home Affairs Ministry said it wants to modernize the laws "to be in line with social mores and emerging societal trends" — but that doesn't include homosexuality.
"Singapore remains, by and large, a conservative society. Many do not tolerate homosexuality," said a note published with the amendments.
However, it said it would continue its policy of not proactively prosecuting private homosexual acts.
"Gross indecency" between two men can lead to two years in jail, but it's rarely punished. Singapore has a thriving gay community.
Other proposed amendments would ban necrophilia, toughen penalties for sex with minors under 14, and introduce penalties for men who rape their wives.
The amendments would also expand the Sedition Act to cover "the wounding of racial feelings," and would toughen credit card fraud laws.
A change in the "unlawful assembly" law would broaden its focus to groups "whose common object is to commit any offense, and not just those relating to public tranquility."
Outdoor gatherings of more than four people now require a police permit — a law seen by critics as an attempt to curb political dialogue.
Such laws were highlighted in September, when protesters were confined to an indoor lobby during annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings held in Singapore.
Proposal Number 9 Seems to have been drafted with the recent case of the 'Zombie Jesus' cartoons and is based on the notion that it is an offence to 'offend' someone's religion.
ON THE PROPOSED PENAL CODE AMENDMENTS
9. Arising from the case of the racist bloggers who were charged under the Sedition Act, we propose amending the Penal Code to provide another option to the Sedition Act, to charge such offenders in future cases. Hence, MHA recommends expanding the scope of s.298 on “Uttering words, etc with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person” to cover the wounding of racial feelings as well. For future such cases, where appropriate, prosecution can have the option to proceed under the Penal Code or the Sedition Act.
10. Currently, s.377 criminalises all forms of carnal intercourse against the order of nature, other than vaginal intercourse, between a man, woman, or an animal, regardless of whether consent was obtained or if the act was performed in a public or private place. We intend to repeal s.377, re-scoping it such that anal and oral sex, if done in private between a consenting adult heterosexual couple aged 16 years old and above, would no longer be criminalised. As part of the rescoping, the archaic term “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” will be removed. The offence of bestiality, currently covered under s.377, will be expanded to cover the scenario where a person was compelled by another person to perform bestiality without his consent.
11. As for sexual offences, “incest” (ss.376A1376B1376C) will be expanded to
i) cover other sexual acts involving penetration, in addition to sexual intercourse;
H) cover penetrative sexual acts between a grandmother and her grandson and Hi) provide that a boy under 16 cannot be prosecuted for incest (as currently provided for females under 16 yrs old), as they are not mature enough to make an informed decision.
12. For the provision on “rape”, its scope would be amended to cover persons who have undergone a sex reassignment procedure, and to define sexual intercourse to include acts involving a surgically constructed penis or vagina that is integrated into the body of a person.
13. Currently, a husband cannot be prosecuted for raping his wife. Marital immunity therefore exists for a man who engages in non-consensual sexual intercourse with his wife 13 years of age and above. Given the changed status of women and the evolving nature of the marital relationship, it is proposed that such marital immunity be withdrawn, if:
(a) the wife was at the time of the offence living separately from him under a judgment of judicial separation or an interim judgment of divorce not made final;
(b) at the time of the offence, there was in force an injunction restraining him from having sexual intercourse with his wife; or
(c) at the time of the offence, there was in force a protection order under s.65 or an expedited order under s.66 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) made against him pursuant to an application by his wife.
14. Tougher penalties will also be introduced for outraging the modesty of a minor under 14 years of age under s.354. The age restriction under existing s.293, which makes it an offence for a person to sell, hire, distribute, exhibit or circulate any obscene object to any person under 20 years of age, will be increased to 21 years of age, in line with the Restricted 21(R21) classification for films.
To submit your feedback.