The future for LGBTQI+ rights

Wednesday 13 December 2023

The legal landscape across Asia for LGBTQI+ rights is varied. Despite same-sex relationships being legal in many Asian countries – with Singapore most recently repealing Section 377A of its Penal Code, which criminalised sex between consenting males – in others they can be punishable by fines, prison and even the death penalty.

Most Asian countries do not legally recognise formal unions for same sex couples, but there have been some recent developments on this front. Certain Asian countries have either legalised or moved towards legalising same sex marriage - with Taiwan doing so in 2019, Nepal registering its first such marriage in November 2023 and Thailand currently set to vote on a same-sex marriage bill. However, an October 2023 Supreme Court ruling in India declined to recognise same sex marriage.

Discussing LGBTQI+ rights and laws, with specific reference to developments in Singapore, are:

  • Remy Choo, Senior Vice-Chair of the IBA LGBTQI+ Committee, on the repeal of Section 377A. He was involved in constitutional challenges against the law over many years. Here he recounts the long road which led to this point, and what the future may hold for marriage and wider LGBTQI+ equality
  • Pavan Mano, Lecturer in Global Cultures & Interdisciplinary Education at UCL King's College London, considers the historical context of Section 377A
  • Ryan Sylverio is Executive Director of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, a network of human rights activists based across Southeast Asia. They discuss the situations in other Southeast Asian countries and the influence that the repeal of Section 377A may have

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