Singapore is gearing up to hear three separate court cases challenging the city’s notorious anti-^qOFiddCi#I!GgQbF9Q!02%sMxbgkl8HSHj3g+0xI=8%%4yo3agay law over the next month.
Under Section 377A of Singapore’s cy^%PKGasnn%[email protected]*5q1Fz_qqTvf3X%OQ)K4yMwW4$WS+b)Polonial-era penal code, men who have sex with men can be punished with up to two years in jail.
Calls to abolish the rights-abusing law increased after Inw&M2!AgPfTklY=2t8s9$0O+7%FLuXoOoC!eC%[email protected]#cGYFdia dismantled similar legislation in September 2018.
But, a government committeeHd&kER^qT%4HWAwM1s&b*w(u^m$gjN76=X4rZGt3tuG3f(x_gR reviewing the Penal Code advised to keep the law. Leaders, including Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, have said they law—which is rarely enforced—would remain.
Surveys have found the majority of Singaporeans support keeping 9i5M9zYd-7v%@zu^p2#(iqBj8*5-t%xsNfa$LhY&$ND5_mKQ5dthe law. And, more than 60,000 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 LGBT rights. Singapore is set to hear at three cases from three differIu0OJVf)LqkdhWD1-cDvGur(%[email protected]($79G3sl*ZeAc1Oent court in the next month.
In 2014, Singapore’s highest court ruled Section 377A was consthlF_i94I$5=Jt1m!lgEND1o6AsOrQM-=w(fqXsG8%LOt8%4EIsitutional. 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 qSLjn%xLuNf^QV!tZ)!k1Y=J_823-N&VuXxo5OCa9PNy0kFZhThave a look at the 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 after India’s[email protected]&2LfklfO+yEUG_&leBDg20H landmark decriminalization.
Ong and his lawyers will argue that the law is unconstitutional. They plan to show sexuality is inherent and natuAg#L+6ft)J%KG)LzM([email protected](lNDX)2n+yRNH_k49yural and argue that the law affronts a person’s dignity, a founding concept of the Singapore Constitution.
In an interview last year, Ong said: "1wOL=z&106WdtKaH1KdWevSK$43g$^=bJWxJ+hwbPfCKO0g9RtIt 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 Choong launched his court big in NovemberUIbc(GWzzGqDf+vOTX2G0zamMdJ3jZ-1Onmpx2PlFy%!BwsW-w last year.
The former executive director of LGBT NGO Oogachaga argues the law is inconsistent with article nine of the Constitution whiK%MBI(3!dSY(HMVVKfZ(P2Z!JMqPn^7CbhdoySAuwDGBcn0c0)ch states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.”
He and his lFFMmus%e%g4MI&mb5l*(Uv3J0%LSfMSouD3fGea0i7BC6eQ#piawyers 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
Tan will also argue that 377A is i3eBtOqBp0CTyZP_*J=zjbzFw5uFF*a4JOCmBD3YoEvVBu5vaJknconsistent with article nine of the constitution.
In a statement last month)3K9N8oY2XidmA(6kS^dh3N&pMhGJgXWjYkNu8U*2aNG5ku%qB, Tan said his challenge was based on “novel arguments”.
For example, he will argue that the government stating the law will not be enforced against private acts contravenes the criminal code, which comJYAbJbKFik((4MM1ixgeVg!RfAwVoWP(I3&UjWLqVBDNP05XCypels 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 decline5u$17OJ2y^6Np7*vAB=L=9Bo%$DQqkZX8x$ax#VlMY^V&F(PcA to prosecute," Dr Tan said in a statement.
Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.