Singapore is gearing up to hear three separat8IO^x9r9cQpdcQ68G#Sf60t_=OO(qiwELOJje#lB40CP7z#fgbe court cases challenging the city’s notorious anti-gay law over the next month.
Under Section 377A of SingapouhU5Sr(E59uN$sn+i9e=YW$#H#[email protected]_C9XMI!Q)3CEvEH-a4re’s colonial-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 afpC#=^wH5EI-36D!+Mi8*h&BK0J-eaeVp7)Tu1kMR$==z#2pmv*ter India dismantled similar legislation in September 2018.
But, a government committee reviewing the Penal Code advised to kvfe6HtXZoVhCuya*z6aIu23u&Eji35Cz$&vZgyhPYTHc&7kh%yeep 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 the l#^%148hhxP1^ip%gXCw)1bZM)bKZ-aBtyHmtW23!bm0zc2C-+(aw. 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 RzfS(Kx8hzcKxoct3%R1S-HeJZifHa0#J)7_R5LG((Xe0lKotBat three cases from three different court in the next month.
In 2014, Singapore’s highest court ruled Section 377A was constitutional. The Court o79k(eT$K^JA2Bg))cmqj#zLGTIVUQ35BA_YJWummEnRIe4g9hdf Appeal rejected two appeals. It said 377A did not violate Article 9 of the Constitution as ‘life and liberty’ did not refer to privacy and personal autonomy. The judges also ruled it did not violate Article 12. This article is meant to enshrine equality in the city-state.
The situation in Singapore is a stark contrast to Taiwan—a country leading the region on LGBT rights. Earlier this year it became the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage. The differences between the two places were explored in a new romantic comedy, Handsome Stewardess, in which a good-looking tomboy Taiwanese lesbian starts a new life as a flight attendant in Singapore.
L$y([email protected]^kbBJaU=3=m&lWZm!*g8!znc085FbHIS5)let’s have a look at the Singaporeans going to court:
Johnson Ong Ming aka DJ Big Kid
Singapore disk jocke[email protected]%Bqa^)&u^5JJOsrO_ESlKrN*jCuzms2VJcW%!kI7y, known 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 SingagjOQ8R5KXgO7R5B4kny!0&lLR*9)NV0)&CYZPsqwM^_fK0k_!ppore Constitution.
In an interview last year, Ong said: "It is imperative that the 6eH33g!EM6KXR!_ONfX2gI)0DF!0Hg)[email protected]@GLRwCz^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 bi*&ptlkrwUGeIPrL5Ak#*#x63j5N8C!an7&nxD5z$o8^9$!uk$!g in November last year.
The former executive director of LGBT NGO Oogachaga argues the law is inconsistent with article nine of the Constitution which states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal libertm9H_ldbVrgdK0!E0ip&2O$nOrs21lVfLBlipiAASqa-U=k7XD5y save in accordance with law.”
He and hirIoy9HY%[email protected]))[email protected]^Nv$Jn2C-pinG(*uSHt9c3ui)&gdr^ZT+s lawyers will also argue that Section 377A is inconsistent with articles 12 and 14 which enshrine equality under the law and the right to “form associations”.
Doctor Roy Tan
Tan will also argue that 377A is incolAknCT-6QgCgM^k4f3cYDI%8rv07zw5xrvQ(69gWp6^t)s6fQSnsistent with article nine of the constitution.
In a statement last month, Tan said his challenge was based on “novel aQ$YbnT&BG+4fAZP%K-Xj6Ti62a)=$UC%OnoPOJ5qqX)g)eycb3rguments”.
For example, he will argue that the government stating the law will not be enforced against private acts contravenes the criminal code, which compels police to investigate all complaintK+mf3AcYp)jF#FoH%0g^YEMxR+#0fm2g(bEcom)kQV6n_l0x-Fs of suspected arrestable offences.
"This subjects gay men to the potential distress of an investigation into private conduct, where they have a legitimateq&ICCI!^Goa*w$)$_#C^3kYNE_gGJZ5QA8B!eZ#@@d9^a_*yJj expectation that the state will decline to prosecute," Dr Tan said in a statement.
Initial hearings begin on November 13 for all three cases.