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Most Singaporeans Still Believe Gay Sex Should Be Illegal

Despite pushes for LGBTQ acceptance, homosexuality in Singapore still carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Less than a week after India's historic legalization of gay sex, the focus has shifted to Singapore, another South Asian country with an outdated penal code that criminalizes homosexuality. But the fight to overturn that law could be a similar uphill battle: A new poll has found that a slim majority of Singaporeans still support the ban on gay sex.

The survey, conducted online via Ipsos, found that 55% of the 750 Singaporeans polled believe that the ban—a vestige of British colonial-era law—should remain in place.

Some 12% opposed the law, while 33% were neither for nor against it.

Currently, Section 377A of Singapore’s penal code threatens men caught having gay sex with a charge of "gross indecency." Prosecutions are rare, but the charge still carries a penalty of up to two years in prison. (Notably, the law doesn't apply to sex between two women.)

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

SINGAPORE - JUNE 30: Participants dress in various shades of pink pose for a photo during the 'Night Pink Dot' event arrange to increase awareness and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Singapore at Hong Lim Park on June 30, 2012 in Singapore. The event is the fourth annual gathering held in support of the freedom to love. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Members of Singapore's LGBTQ community attend the nation's annual Pink Dot pride festival in June 2012.

Robert McPhedran, Ipsos' associate research director in Singapore, told Reuters that the research showed “the normative values of Singaporeans with respect to LGBTQ issues are gradually shifting.”

“As has occurred in other countries globally, increased dialogue regarding same-sex relationships has contributed to higher acceptance among Singaporeans,” he added.

Singapore's Pink Dot festival, the country's annual LGBTQ pride event, drew more than 20,000 people in 2017. The festival will celebrate its 10th year in 2019.

Following India's landmark ruling, veteran diplomat and lawyer Tommy Koh called upon LGBTQ activists in Singapore to rise up and challenge the antiquated law in court. The country's gay sex ban also made headlines earlier this summer when out actress and model Paris Jackson posed for a Singaporean magazine, sparking controversy on social media.

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