After I made this statement, the Leader of the House, Mr Mah Bow Tan, moved to suspend the operation of Standing Order 18(3). That allowed the petition to be debated in the course of the debate on the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill. If not, it would have been referred to the Public Petitions Committee for a report, pending which no debate would have been allowed.
Mr Mah had previously discussed this with me, and I had agreed to the motion. It was simply the most sensible way of approaching it. The petitioners had also earlier indicated their agreement to this.
Statement on Petition
Mr Speaker Sir, I present to Parliament a petition under Standing Order 18. The Clerk has endorsed this petition as being in accordance with the rules of Standing Order 18(5).
This petition is presented on behalf of Mr George Bonaventure Hwang Chor Chee, Dr Stuart Koe Chi Yeow, Ms Tan Joo Hymn, and others of like opinion.
Including the three petitioners that I have named, there are a total of two thousand, three hundred and forty-one valid signatories.
Sir, the material allegations contained in the petition concern the unconstitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code. If and when the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill is passed, private consensual anal and oral sex between heterosexual adults will be permitted, but the same private and consensual acts between men will remain criminalized, due to the retention of Section 377A.
The petitioners argue that this is an unconstitutional derogation from the constitutional guarantee of equality and equal protection of the law, as set out in Article 12(1) of the Constitution. The petitioners ask this House to repeal Section 377A in light of this.
The petitioners pray, and I quote:
“By this Petition, the Undersigned pray that Section 377A of the Penal Code (Cap. 224) be repealed.”
I will now hand the petition to the Clerk.