Singapore is gearing up to hear three separate court cases (QY%gxGcV-YB7=%V$rpuhs&s-izFABz0Bzeui*K(*YBS4QNEZDchallenging the city’s notorious anti-gay law over the next month.
Under Rm_&%&xIQ-h1OsTdz!uWZ(8nNCN^N2URX!VULfKCo$lo44WpybSection 377A of Singapore’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 after India dismantled similar legislation in September 2eprjpdK_WP5z5bZ=h^QBglO$acSE8MAcw)[email protected]@7SjojfLl9K018.
But, a government committee reviewing the Penal Code advised to keep the law. Leaders, including Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, have said they law—which is rarely enforced—wouJb1#@j9xuJG0oySM#[email protected]+FYCUNn1q=uLLT*I&+R6gld remain.
Surveys have found agpU6f#VC0%)fnWq(McsWEp*E5$YBrXGGa7izV##zhsXjap$JJthe majority of Singaporeans support keeping the law. And, more than 60,000 people signed a petition in support of the law.
LGBT rights activists in the city state, therefore, have turned to the courts to push for LGBT rights. Singapore is set to hear at three casPa5Kmc!oGL0khd-huk9YgVLR)#Di7Xsm8#u7oAu*[email protected]@%1TDJes from three different court in the next month.
In 2014, Singapore’s highest court ruled Section 377A was constitutional. The Court of Appeal rejected two appeals. It said 377A did not violate Article 9 of the Constitution as ‘life and liberty’ did not refer to privacy andU3v)J$j*pl=PnPcFiMN0mJFG$nVWKgYiM(QHYmNYXYaWZEBUIa personal autonomy. The judges also ruled it did not violate Article 12. This article is meant to enshrine equality in the city-state.
The situation in Singapore is a stark contrast to Taiwan—a country leading the region on LGBT rights. Earlier this year it became the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage. The differences between the two places were explored in a new romantic comedy, Handsome Stewardess, in which a good-looking tomboy Taiwanese lesbian starts a new life as a flight attendant in Singapore.
Let’s have aTH^=JAeUPB^M^uYFQdtSEIOq2tgWQMg3A$O(_opO)qO1IO9D9o 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 challeng[email protected]@dDt0JQ_p=0ghi5%bHF20#)Ie 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 foundinL$R_)v!t^x0Pqo#bFq2^+Km=VA-rgIWTQYn([email protected]g concept of the Singapore Constitution.
In an interview last year, Ong said: "It is imperative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the vGs#[email protected]!wDn*[email protected]%*-^8hk+%7&KuNery least have the protection of the law that does not label them criminals”.
Longtime LGBT rights activist Bryan Choong launched his court biK0%D=18iy3iqWU=NdUb5nz&ncuUO8!0u4^N$mHGLFoBL)DDzHLg in November last year.
The former executive director of LGBT NGO O2BPd*[email protected]%=E5r72FAR3)dylu8ptogachaga 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 law.”
He and his lawyers will Vm0U092VSCn+x4(mRRVG+5L8^(DsfC8IcMY*9Ky3ZKsbFobFXfalso 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 challenbQ_EMdehFqP7hk9cI(2Ea#+z_re0vkqNnm8M0xmFAezFOe$xW&ge against the government last month.
Tan will also argue that 377A [email protected]=EZopIZ+CDF9kl_^ywVBCx0fA-vr&oD1vj$Fis inconsistent with article nine of the constitution.
In a szQPxpu_Te&R72gja5M=3)5p4A&eG(ePxEGX1zQ71Deu)w2WBUDtatement last month, Tan said his challenge was based on “novel arguments”.
For exavN2x0)G4KgGkOoPCDEwlKMpm+Ivr#zLQ%lqADSbS!F(a(Ic_Z(mple, 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 suspected arrestable offences.
"This subjects gay men to the potential distress of an investigation into private[email protected]^AaFjhHtx8DlJd+^$id_Ls8*=fg=GFu)baR 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.