Sex Laws in Singapore
IS IT ILLEGAL TO DOWNLOAD PORN?
It is illegal to keep, distribute or sell pornographic films, photographs, books and digital files.
However, accessing pornography on the Internet is not an offence.
“The MDA does not monitor or track users’ access to any sites on the Internet and does not interfere with what individuals access in the privacy of their homes. We are primarily concerned with the purveyors and distributors of pornography. Unless you engage in such activities, the mere act of visiting such sites is not an offence.” – Media Development Authority (MDA)
IS IT LEGAL TO PAY FOR SEX WORK?
It is legal to have paid sex with any consenting person who is above 18 years of age.
However, a person who has paid sex with any person under 18 in Singapore is guilty of a crime. It is also illegal for a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident to have paid sex with an underage person outside Singapore.
IS PROSTITUTION LEGAL?
Prostitution is legal in Singapore. However, street solicitation and pimping are illegal. Pimps can be jailed for up to 5 years and fined up to $10,000.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL AGE FOR SEX?
In Singapore, the age of consent for sex is 16. It is illegal to have sex with a person under the age of 16 even if the minor consents, which is an offence known as statutory penetration of a minor. If the minor is a girl below 14, the offence is called statutory rape and carries the same penalties as rape: up to 20 years in jail, plus fine or caning.
ARE SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS ILLEGAL?
It is not illegal to be in a same sex relationship. Technically, Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalises all sexual acts between adult men. However, the Singapore government has indicated that it will not enforce this provision proactively against men who have consensual sex in private.
“(Homosexuals) are free to lead their lives, free to pursue their social activities. But there are restraints and we do not approve of them actively promoting their lifestyle to others or setting the tone for mainstream society. They live their lives, that’s their personal life, it’s their space. But the tone of the overall society, I think it remains conventional, it remains straight and we want it to remain so.” – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
IS IT LEGAL FOR ME TO HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE IF I HAVE OR SUSPECT THAT I HIV/AIDS?
Yes it is, provided you first inform your partner of his/her risk of HIV infection and your partner voluntarily agrees to accept the risk. The penalty for not making this disclosure is a fine not exceeding $50,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF CONSENT IN RAPE LAW?
According to local law, rape is committed when a man, A, penetrates the vagina of a woman, B, with his penis without B’s consent. Non-consensual penetration of a man, or penetration of bodily orifices other than the vagina, is recognised as unlawful sexual penetration, an offence liable to the same penalty.
Consent must be consent to the penetration. B might have agreed to meet A late at night in a hotel room or to kissing, touching, dirty dancing or mutual masturbation with A, but this does not mean that B has consented to sexual intercourse with A.
Where B has not consented to sexual intercourse, it is not a defence for A to say that A honestly believed that B consented. A will only be excused if it was reasonable for A to believe that there was consent.
Of course, there may be a problem with proving that there was no consent, as it is one person’s word against the other. But that does not mean there was consent.
There is also no consent if B is too drunk to give consent or if B gives consent under fear of injury or wrongful restraint.
If the victim of non-consensual penetration is male, he cannot be a victim of rape as rape is narrowly defined under S375, Penal Code as the penile penetration of a vagina.
For more information, go to AWARE.
IS SEXTING ILLEGAL?
Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or indecent photographs between mobile phones.
While it may seem like harmless fun, there could be legal consequences attached to the act.
Intentionally sending an unsolicited obscene photo to an unconsenting recipient may constitute an outrage of modesty (commonly known as molest). Harassing another party to send a compromising photo of himself or herself may also constitute a crime.
Even between consenting parties, it is a crime to send obscene photographs electronically.