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Author: Ya Lan Chang

Should Singapore’s conservative, communitarian society continue to criminalise male homosexuality in the name of its common good? This is the fundamental question raised by Singapore’s continued retention of Section 377A of the Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalises only male homosexual conduct. With reference to Parliament’s reasons for retaining 377A and scholarly arguments against homosexuality, this article reconstructs, and debunks, the best philosophical case in favour of 377A; namely, that it should be conserved to sustain communitarian Singapore’s common good. Instead, the article argues that, because homosexuality is morally permissible, 377A does not satisfy the ‘goodness’ component of the common good and hence does not, and cannot, sustain communitarian Singapore’s common good. Rather, a communitarian approach to 377A, one based on an inclusive conception of communitarianism and an aggregative conception of the common good, would lead to its repeal and vindicate gay men’s right to equality.

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law