Singapore is gearing up to hear three separate court cases challenging the city’s notoYS*o7ZKjZFpST2ha_QXt%=sC5uYc3&ja014crgb2Rt0Q9BzLKurious anti-gay law over the next month.
Under Section 377A of Singapore’s colonial-era penal code, men who have sex with men can be punishe[email protected]@3g7ErRBAgF9zBYCtSPhPt20z67YO^yEx^=B8NS#tFd with up to two years in jail.
Calls SJbn4U60pX+ZanaKFZ-PBdYj&V^[email protected]$H(8Mj^I_Tto abolish the rights-abusing law increased after India dismantled similar legislation in September 2018.
But, a government committee reviewing the Penal Code advised to keep the law. Leaders, including Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, hssHuW([email protected]%enWDb8cD^IuJ-W_-8ave said they law—which is rarely enforced—would remain.
Surveys have found the majority of Singaporeans support keeping the law. And, more than8K6oUe)z!o5V8wvY&E$v*(NGzR9Ru*jsx$HBu+Tpu1vmX_&7Mo 60,000 people signed a petition in support of the law.
LGBT rights activists iI&pONKp4yX)8c!3uEzd_IA#[email protected]n the city state, therefore, have turned to the courts to push for LGBT rights. Singapore is set to hear at three cases from three different court in the next month.
In 2014, Singapore’s highest court ruled Section 377A was cons9ST_(idf6CDjmt#k)Vu=o0dsOTq7Yb(GoCxy0*+(VKjiE2&a=Jtitutional. The Court of Appeal rejected two appeals. It said 377A did not violate Article 9 of the Constitution as ‘life and liberty’ did not refer to privacy and personal autonomy. The judges also ruled it did not violate Article 12. This article is meant to enshrine equality in the city-state.
The situation in Singapore is a stark contrast to Taiwan—a country leading the region on LGBT rights. Earlier this year it became the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage. The differences between the two places were explored in a new romantic comedy, Handsome Stewardess, in which a good-looking tomboy Taiwanese lesbian starts a new life as a flight attendant in Singapore.
Let’s have a look at the$qactE%[email protected])HF0&Rcmoo#@3$njndz3w^WXdOy7%dawN Singaporeans going to court:
Johnson Ong Ming aka DJ Big Kid
Singapore disk jockey, known as DJ Big Kid, launched his court challenge in September last year, just days afterfqCgdI8ZRzEpw9%UHMK-vvx7=^m)UT&lV^=tCfBzwAWLm9Ti)6 India’s landmark decriminalization.
Ong and h[email protected](hKK*[email protected]#NuiSg(@[email protected]!&ixis lawyers will argue that the law is unconstitutional. They plan to show sexuality is inherent and natural and argue that the law affronts a person’s dignity, a founding concept of the Singapore Constitution.
In an interview last year, Ong said: "It is imperative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the very least have the protection of the law that does not l$ssaSFAP1nF_buqy0M-_YEGS7%IjqoCVw3oV*CW8Rgsq22z8NLabel them criminals”.
Longtime LGBT rights activist [email protected]%W8oI0mrb#pyvBzcWLC4ROPaCc(5XBryan Choong launched his court big in November last year.
The former executive director of LGBT NGO Oogachaga argues the law is inconsistent with article nine of the Constitution which states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal lGX(GJaE)n&SFTB-tvIvyEXmT9Du=Y3h9fR65x+N$lXE-C8OQ15iberty save in accordance with law.”
He and his lawyers will also argue that Section 377A is inconsistent with articles 12 and 14 which enshrine equality under the law and the right to “form associatb$go6%RKm(0VgZRb)h9C8jrrfmC&4X)F7E6pfn#cwSO)RzktP=ions”.
Doctor Roy Tan
Retired General PractitiaWWLiTyPLLNP!HIBe))-yA8$Oh#E&*Zq2y62C#lrDE^CMW==eyoner Tan Seng Kee, better known as Dr Roy Tan, filed his court challenge against the government last month.
Tan will also argue that 377A is inconsistent with article nine of the constituV8mO$Z&)[email protected]#RMWy%!$bgJ4m^n99&sL9JJ3tion.
In a statement last month, Tan said his challenge was based on[email protected]^1!*WORbK “novel arguments”.
For example, he will argue that the government stating the law wilP-cQ#[email protected]#AXEjdj&DI&Tv&a-tl24Tl not be enforced against private acts contravenes the criminal code, which compels police to investigate all complaints of suspected arrestable offences.
"This subjects gay men to the potential distress of an investigation into private conduct, where they have a legitYJ4DGi8DRW%xYnkuqC^gJ#Nwb!LrZ*[email protected]^438Gl2imate expectation that the state will decline to prosecute," Dr Tan said in a statement.
Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.