Back to top

Singapore is gearing up to hear three separate court cases challenging the[email protected]#ReQVeJP)KXT%[email protected](Gg&M8(BYeCl!3t city’s notorious 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 $H3YJQstqGE8hhzW77X$-&Kgxbdc8Y9AnZ(B6s0Dj%[email protected]punished with up to two years in jail.

Calls to abolish the rights-abusing law increased after India dismantled similar legislation in[email protected]&%8k&oTS6&uCj%7ljzWg_bXjjfDap)*7I^h3)J2Sq September 2018.

But, a government ([email protected]#&sW#X#GalT^)6E-9Bcommittee 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[email protected]_vir5-uSAIPIAC^[email protected]$%ez6nYYxD#%&x) majority of Singaporeans support keeping the 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 LJfRi^)kHn4nj)[email protected]#RB6iR_U+1GBT 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 E)6KD!sXj9MV([email protected](oqHFI#sGjgRuGTDQuZHJ7hbXvsn_3Cconstitutional. 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 Singaporeans going to courtDC^vm*[email protected]*1^pAuyU56L$wtTIrRd:

Johnson Ong Ming aka DJ Big Kid

Singapore disk jockey, known as DJ BiiLo4cIK7pg1mu1=u$XlSPz#-SMuX*)8o#%OTNFK4z0dL76RVdEg 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 laLE73nOIce*H+nBiOu9kFmy&74E&0uZCtSmoa)[email protected]@17DVicOX(dw affronts a person’s dignity, a founding concept of the Singapore Constitution.

In an interview last year, Ong said: "It is impe7aHrLNIo%WA)[email protected]&bMv^z$O1*h%2!crative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the very least have the protection of the law that does not label them criminals”.

Bryan Choong

Longtime LGBT right!*OSrCU#z12K=VKrwP3Jpc6tVs(JzXJ$IVTzg&^e9Cr(W*jEM#s 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 Cons[email protected])ORc^6bzq5vl0TzAckPiv=MVRm(0xKIAYEea&rjCLj(ntitution which states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.”

He and his lawyers will also argue that Section 377A is inconsistent DCC4(6cWJSHqIpwGP9yPgjJS$-n4P^Np5CSDXlCxLuzQ1Ch&i%with articles 12 and 14 which enshrine equality under the law and the right to “form associations”.

Doctor Roy Tan

Retired Genera#[email protected]+d+!EM0#TwptA!LIPydbXefC)l Practitioner 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 artxE_xL2wupehlM#7gxI2amjM-nhipYDnQ!#R354kN#s0wPnF_K#icle nine of the constitution.

In a statement last month, Tan said his challenge was basedHi$tKZnVD+cdjtGZ%Z#[email protected]=X=GN%[email protected]+TRDwTngOqTPS+PJN$z 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,btQ(T7^[email protected] which compels police to investigate all complaints of suspected arrestable offences.

"Thi=3jpHfA!j&AQ1PhI&i1%F1J=juyJI9D+$KUYun-7TotNq(Kkbhs 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 said in a statement.

Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.

From acclaimed Filipino director Adolfo Alix Jr. comes the first series about gay relationships during quarantine times. An anthology series that explores our need to connect during the worst of times.

Related Articles