It is perhaps premature to talk about same-sex marriage in Singapore when, at a more basic level, Section 377A of the Penal Code still criminalises sex between men.
However, the fact that male homosexual sex remains a crime has not prevented gay Singaporeans from forging stable long-term relationships and from living together as couples.
Many of them have gone overseas to register civil unions there or even get married to their partners in countries like Canada and some states in the USA where gay marriage has been legalised (see video:).
Others celebrate their loving relationships via videos posted on YouTube.
Even though gay marriage is not yet legal, holding gay weddings are perfectly legitimate in Singapore, unlike the case with Vietnam where it was illegal until as recent as 2014. However, the "marriages" that the wedding ceremonies or dinners celebrate cannot be registered with the Registry of Marriages and are therefore not legally recognised.
There is much less discrimination against lesbian relationships, especially after lesbian sex was decriminalised during the Penal Code review in 2007 when the former Section 377, which criminalised "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" (theoretically including penetrative lesbian sex) was repealed.
Therefore, if there is a push by LGBT activists to legalise gay marriage in Singapore, it will be spearheaded by lesbian couples serving as role models as there is much less mainstream resistance against their relationships.
The results of a survey conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and published in early 2014 showed that although "78.2% (of respondents) felt ...sexual relations between two adults of the same sex (was always or almost always wrong)", "When it came to adoption of a child by a gay couple, respondents who found it always or almost always wrong fell to 61.1%, 72.9% found gay marriage always or in certain cases wrong, and 15.7% thought it was not." That is, fewer Singaporeans found gay marriage and child adoption wrong as compared to gay sex.
The first Singaporean gay marriage which was reported positively and given detailed coverage in the mainstream media was that of actor-singer Caleb Goh and his partner who declined to be named for the Yahoo! News article. They got hitched on 16 December 2018 in the historic Presidio Park in San Diego, California.
- "Singaporeans still conservative about certain social issues, says IPS survey", Channel News Asia, January 2014.
- Reena Devi, "I saw him among my audience: Actor-singer Caleb Goh on how he met his husband", Yahoo! News, 8 March 2018.
This article was written by Roy Tan.