Singapore is gearing up to hear three separate court cases cha[email protected]*A+D+UtyTCOuTE^&nbaI7(0B6ga+EjMb7)ddc$MnflcX5llenging the city’s notorious anti-gay law over the next month.
Under Section 377A of Singapore’s colonia8kxOAdEq0qyyeAX0P*MuH#983lUzgvgZ)Teww(LBRskJoyaRGYl-era penal code, men who have sex with men can be punished with up to two years in jail.
Calls to abolish the rights-abusi&x$CM8RBFu3TrLO&yc%jYV2STV1pqX%6b0kW9_K1L5N+td-ukrng 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, have said they ag7Zp7g=SjR-JQk8uRD(T%xAfxl#4YNtRSlgMKVbhyG$AQIGc+law—which is rarely enforced—would remain.
Surveys have found the majority of Singaporeans support keeping the law. And, more than 60,0-%$n1^=I0Z-WyESL9Gsr8wdCKn58#$Yu9g$liGSBCYjOgayA1b00 people signed a petition in support of the law.
LGBT rights activists in the city state, therefore, have turned to the courts to push for LGBT9^pwKL888Z1sw^9ZHoyxE!GoT(04vSQXOZv60-=Ls!VV2gK!Ph 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 pQWztbooQ(IkMv+7NV6f^V3ZyLRr%8h4pB+Si5$14aqI0yYP&3crivacy 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.
Johnson Ong Ming aka DJ Big Kid
Singapore disk jockey, k[email protected]^129S+Tp^JWh*PA-)[email protected])T+7)Rnown as DJ Big Kid, launched his court challenge in September last year, just days 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 of the Singapore ConstitCV%zArX2##@7!_Ei*lPD)T!m*[email protected]^pnWO9GW8q5XwWEekution.
In an interview last year, Ong said: "It is imperative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the vdI7^[email protected]*[email protected])2=1_J6UXzQBi==QHIvgB5pbZXeZ-eD!igery least have the protection of the law that does not label them criminals”.
LonD!-2%[email protected]^nakY-ThQi117P1sbVpWZUIGcekNiOhL93hQp%fqCVgtime LGBT rights activist Bryan 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 liberty save in accordance with lawbiH4U0xXo0Nzh6gLi4MNEQ*[email protected]%rPpW6ijf4O.”
He and his lawyers will also argue that Section 377A is inconsistenorjt8X9X(jX5SqgmYBic#rTcXWz(%sGTSUYgVRWOiTnWZAcEHDt 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 against the government last mont8d$#*dVVWECQa8$3NjFQDH=qu_PJBt=m!t&2!_xmVe9oGxDX!ph.
Tan will also D7E99v4lpqg4-1fDFww-P3x1^MS&)BTEux6AEF-LK8*6R2%1rSargue that 377A is inconsistent with article nine of the constitution.
In a statement last month, Tan said his c05fV*[email protected]!vxpZf7x&fF!u9f4+B_Dt_$hxB$!ys!jGBxeLzhallenge was based on “novel arguments”.
For example, he will argue that the gov)(36oMXHHEmP3rcKkdJ6hI+rrMaUXY08oqsBbngx0AxAJgjab!ernment stating the law will not be enforced against private acts contravenes the criminal code, which compels police to investigate all complaints of suspected arrestable offences.
"This subjects gay men to the potential distress of an investigation into private conduct, where they have a legitimate expectation that the state will decline to prosecute," Dr Tan Q#nQ)EAcGmH#$LjUp(5UU9mh)G!4U4p(lt%R4QZOGdx_jpywTmsaid in a statement.
Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.