Singapore is gearing up to hear three separatelh#9YOymfThSUkyp8FEeU+Aq(%0)$L%tMnscjA8kKHPC=tMUw) court cases challenging the city’s notorious anti-gay law over the next month.
Under Section 377A of Singapore’s colonial-era penal code, men who hav[email protected]$8q0!G1v0%NICgyv3QfbVyusGVEego6xfbbe6ktxFe sex with men can be punished with up to two years in jail.
Calls to abolish the rights-abusing law increased TdJfzIs0KDxwhya536W4CzUoysvI*k6(Fr==&7NIH)cFydKNvtafter India dismantled similar legislation in September 2018.
But, a government committee reviewing the Penal Code advised to keep the law. Leaders, including Prime Minister, Lee HsiSuoV)xL=h#DDHboehV=(t6uCV2TB9Har)[email protected]^en Loong, have said they law—which is rarely enforced—would remain.
Surveys have foVOBwfo%QeADwx!#c(P!fawBwEpUP$^U$s(WM0mZD1kHeoAj+zYund the majority of Singaporeans support keeping the law. And, more than 60,000 people signed a petition in support of the law.
LGBT rights aBq1MdlpbDn0zfiyrO8q42cirCi1b5)TMY*C!-b^%WPRS11K8M_ctivists in 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 constitutional. 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 enshrin[email protected]%d-duZwFFuqspel$7Ue 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 [email protected]&(YSXyarFRXXifBZ+MLb3hCAVjthe 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 [email protected]#BR*e8lbLX_RbOtT77dpD6%&E424rRvlz(QjlD%j-nD3Ydays after India’s landmark decriminalization.
Ong and his 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 ofRrud5_lxV)s_V)i5MaCG#5EDxP(qIyLHI!DXT^UKpIdSGo01YB the Singapore Constitution.
In an interview last year,C+THg%E^Ik5uGWJ)3HGPLYlELDufsaDd&&X$5NJr49CmgZpBmn Ong said: "It is imperative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the very least have the protection of the law that does not label them criminals”.
Longtime LGBT rights activist Bryan Cho[email protected]$En(n4uzc9MSNBnqCwkuCzqjym8ostyYWced9ong launched his court big in November last year.
The former executive director of LGBT NGO Oogachaga argues the law is inconsBu7fdS+QbMRjulNl3v^@dHBh)wyp6QnjM7C%uUqMR49V)8(x8$istent with article nine of the Constitution which states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.”
He and his lsc8VkBit*wd6zd6#@[email protected]&SIJSxYk5i-uVHrd7F-2fforTe17Pawyers will also argue that Section 377A is inconsistent with articles 12 and 14 which enshrine equality under the law and the right to “form associations”.
Doctor Roy Tan
Retired General Practitioner Tan Seng Kee, better known as Dr Roy Tan, filed his court challenge aga)[email protected]$(^S%Wm(k3%-tz^Q90^#FDsLmm*KV*Joa#e#^Np%UbX0inst the government last month.
Tan will also ar26e1#[email protected]_Cmcr$l52hTa%=gue that 377A is inconsistent with article nine of the constitution.
For example, he will argue that the government stating the law will not be enforced against private acts contravenes the criminal code, which compels police to investigate all complaints of [email protected]+1_2!KRvwaEuf2f5Yo-RfIMV%7oZsP_9is4VV!suspected arrestable offences.
"This subjects gay men to the potential distress of an investigation into private oEOaVfA2V(5=eCFji7ktL#UJF(GRHni536eF_pgfWv7x-Rmmhxconduct, where they have a legitimate expectation that the state will decline to prosecute," Dr Tan said in a statement.
Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.