Arguments For Section 377a Essays Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: LGBT, Law, Singapore, Relationships, Marriage, Punishment, Homosexuality, Freedom

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/22

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Section 377A Penal Code, "Abort" or "Uphold"?

Section 377A criminalizes the gay sexual contact. This is a law that Singapore inherited from the British legacy. Since then Britain has abolished Section 377A in 1967 but Singapore continues with that law. Recently, Singapore court has upheld the law against some appeals by gay rights activists saying it is not violating any constitutional rights like individual freedom or discrimination. Homosexual relationships probably will deteriorate the normal institution of marriage. Heterosexual marriage institution have the main purpose to procreate which gay couples cannot do so many think that this process should remain illegal. On the other hand, creating a law especially against the gay people violates the freedom of choice of an individual. Section 377A also only pinpoints men and talks nothing about women (lesbians). This is also discriminatory action. Singapore legislative assembly should probably revisit this law and make amendments in such a way so that individual freedom of choice is not hampered at the same time moral and ethical values of society should not see a degradation.


Singapore’s Penal Code Section 377A is a piece of legislation that criminalizes sex between two men. Section 377A, also known as “Outrages on Decency”, states that, “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years” (SG, 2015) In 2010, Mr. Gary Lim and Mr. Kenneth Chee filed an appeal against Section 377A arguing that this statute infringed on their right to equal protection under law as is guaranteed by Article 12 of the Constitution and violated their right to life and personal liberty as guaranteed by the Article 9 of the Constitution. However, to everyone's dismay, the Supreme Court of Singapore upheld Section 377A and stated that it is not unconstitutional (Tan, 2014). This essay will further scrutinize the issues around Section 377A and what are some of the arguments which supports and what are some of the arguments which goes against Section 377A.


Section 377 was originally introduced in British India in 1843 when Macaulay introduced this law in the “Indian Penal Code” criminalizing unnatural carnal intercourse (Tan, 2014). This law was then applied to all the British colonies including Singapore. In 2007, section 377 was completely overhauled, considering sex only with dead bodies a criminal act (SG, 2015). Section 377A was introduced in 1938 to criminalize all non-penetrative sexual acts by men. The only other section that touches unnatural sex is 377B, which criminalizes sexual penetration with a living animal (SG, 2015). Lesbian acts were no longer criminalized under Singapore law (SG, 2015). This meant that among all sex between same sex couples only sexual acts between two men were criminalized. This from social standpoint is an unequal treatment as proponents of gay sex argues.
Singapore, derived this law from British law. Britain abolished this law in 1967. Other British colonies like India, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong no longer have the law in place (Lum, 2014). Protestors of 377A, cites these examples and demands that Singapore also should follow the same path as the other countries have done in the past.
Also as per the constitution of Singapore, Article 9, “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law” (Lum, 2014). There is a strong argument that 377A violates the private liberty of choice of a person therefore violates the constitution.

There are several social, ethical and moral aspects which supports 377A. As per nature, the most natural outcome of intercourse is procreation. However, same sex marriages or sexual intercourses cannot produce children. Therefore, gay or lesbian relationships are often termed as unnatural or against the basic law of nature.
Early evidences suggest that if a person grows up in an environment of homosexuality then there is high probability of that person also becoming homosexual. Therefore, as a society if we allow homosexuality, then it may help increase the number of homosexuals in the next generation which may be a big concern in terms of normal marital relationships and procreation (FRC, 2015).
Marriages flourish when the couples specialize in their gender specific roles. It is seen that a father cannot take the place of a mother completely and vice versa (FRC, 2015). In case of same sex couples, biologically they cannot procreate. Suppose they do it using unnatural methods, then also the child born out of such deadlock will either miss his/her father or mother. The child will grow in an environment which is less than ideal. Finally, men who are married work harder, earn more, drink less, live longer and become more spiritual. On the other hand gay couples are less faithful. It is highly unlikely that gay couples will change the way a man generally changes after marriage and specially after having a kid. Therefore more gay couples will reduce the moral and ethical values of the human relations and society at large (FRC, 2015).

Arguments against Section 377A

The main argument against Section 377A is that it violates individual’s freedom of choice. In this case Section 377A not only stops a person from exercising its individual sexual acts as per their sexual orientation for gay people but it also discriminates gays against lesbians (Millstein, 2014). One of the other major argument against gay relationships is that it affects the traditional institution of marriage. However, the gay person or a gay couple does not change a thing directly or indirectly in a heterosexual marriage (Millstein, 2014). Whatever arguments are currently made as indirect influence are mostly based on speculation and very small sample empirical evidences. In fact, it can be argued that gay people and heterosexual people can peacefully coexist. Another argument which is often cited is that, the main purpose of two people coming together, getting into a relationship and ultimately getting married is to procreate. Gay couple cannot do that so their relationship is illegal. However, if that is the case then heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable should also be barred from getting married (Millstein, 2014).


It is not very easy to conclude if Section 377A should be upheld or aborted. On one had it may seem that section 377A creates barrier to individual freedom and discriminates gays from others. On the other hand 377A tries to protect what many believes the natural process of heterosexuality and institution of marriage and procreation. Many countries now have legalized gay relationships and marriages. In fact the birthplace of Section 377A, Great Britain, has abolished the law in 1967. Singapore is a society which is more family oriented and governed by religious morality and ethics. Therefore, it seems natural that Singapore is retaining Section 377A. However, Singapore should review Section 377A as it clearly discriminates gays against lesbians and also violates individual’s freedom of choice.


Millstein, S. (2014). How To Argue For Gay Marriage and Win Any Debate With a Hater. Bustle. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Family Research Council (FRC). (2015). Ten Arguments from Social Science against Same-Sex Marriage. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Lum, S. (2014). Why Court of Appeal rejected arguments that Section 377A was unconstitutional. The Straits Times. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Wee, D. (2015). Singapore blogger found guilty of contempt for post criticizing anti-gay law. Gay Star News. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Tan, S. (2014). UN rights office calls on Singapore's legislature to respond to court's decision, repeal anti-gay sex law. Gay Star News. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Chen, J. (2012). Singapore's Culture War over Section 377A: Through the Lens of Public Choice and Multilingual Research. Law & Social Inquiry, 38(1), 106-137. doi:10.1111/j.1747-4469.2012.01297.x
Chua, L. Legislation and Case Notes: The Power of Legal Processes and Section 377A of the Penal Code. SSRN Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2255277
Singapore Government (SG). 2015. Penal Code section 377A. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>
Wong. T. (2013). A Singapore way of fighting for gay rights?. Singa Politics. Retrieved on 17th March, 2015 from <>

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