Despite recent progress, Singapore’s legal framework oppresses lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBTI) people.
Consensual same-sex conduct between men was decriminalised in November 2022, with the overturn of is Section 377A of the Penal Code. However, same-sex marriages and civil unions continue to be illegal and, when decriminalising sexual relationships between men, the Government also amended the Constitution to protect Parliament’s right to define marriage instead of the judiciary, to prevent court challenges that in other countries have led to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
There is no constitutional provision or legislation that stops discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Since 1973, transgender people in Singapore can change their legal gender on identity cards, but not on birth certificates; the latter requires undergoing gender-confirming surgery.
Intersex people have no policy or legislation that gives them legal recognition.
The last State party report was submitted in 2021 and made some mention of LBTI people.
The state party stated that in the course of its work, the Taskforce examined extensive family-violence datasets and engaged a range of stakeholders which worked directly and indirectly with victims and perpetrators of family violence (frontline responders, psychologists, social workers, lawyers, women’s organisations) and advocacy groups such as Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LBTI) groups “ over several sessions. These included focus group discussions facilitated by the Taskforce’s NGO members such as the SCWO, United Women Singapore and Casa Raudha Limited. These efforts deepened the Taskforce’s understanding of the family violence landscape and helped in the development of recommendations to better support victims and rehabilitate perpetrators of family violence.
In essence, the state party tried to find space for LBTI constituencies within family law and domestic violence. There was also mention of sex workers (instead of the usual parlance of prostitution), which is a progressive step in the inclusion of marginalised LBTI people.
In the 2022 LOI, there is a LBTI specific question requesting policy recommendations (Singapore Women’s Development) with a road map towards gender equality, includes specific provisions that will address the circumstances of women in vulnerable and marginalized situations, notably migrant women, women belonging to ethnic minority groups, women belonging to religious minorities, domestic workers, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women and undocumented women.
Additionally in November 2022, the parliament repealed the laws governing same-sex conduct (repeal of 377A), but, in a blow to the LGBT community in the country, also amended the constitution to prevent court challenges that in other countries have led to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.