Disappointing

Singapore High Court upholds law banning gay sex

 

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Singapore’s High Court today upheld Section 377A: a colonial-era law that bans sex between men.

The law had been challenged by three activists – including local DJ Big Kid (pictured top) – who say it’s unconstitutional. Following hearings in November, the court considered and ruled on all three appeals at the same time.

“The High Court dismisses all three applications,” Judge See Kee Oon said in a summary of the case, “Legislation remains important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs.”

Acknowledging that the law is rarely enacted, the judge said it still “serves the purpose of safeguarding public morality by showing societal moral disapproval of male homosexual acts.”

The full 110-page ruling can be read here.

Although Singapore’s Attorney-General’s office has previously said it’s not in the public interest to prosecute men for consensual sexual relations, local campaigners want the legislation scrapped.

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If prosecuted for “gross indecency” under the Victorian-era law, men face up to two years in jail. Section 377A does not apply to women.

Johnson Ong, who works under the moniker DJ Big Kid, and his lawyers had argued that the law was discriminatory and that sexual orientation was a biological factor that cannot be changed.

However, the court did not agree, saying, “there was no comprehensive scientific consensus that a person’s sexual orientation was biologically determined such that it is immutable.”

Ong has indicated that he intends to appeal the decision.

Dr Roy Tan (Photo: Facebook)

Another of the challengers was Dr Roy Tan, a local medical practitioner and long-standing advocate of LGBTQ rights. He and his lawyer argued that keeping the law on the statute books was “absurd and arbitrary,” given that authorities have said it will not be enacted. He has also indicated that he plans to appeal the ruling.

In a statement to Queerty, Tan said he was, “terribly disappointed that the High Court has seen it fit to uphold the constitutionality of Section 377A, an unjust, archaic, colonial-era law which has no place in a modern, developed nation like Singapore.”

The third challenger was Bryan Choong, who told Reuters he was disappointed in the ruling, “But my eyes are firmly on the road ahead.”

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“In declining to strike out this archaic and discriminatory law, the court has reaffirmed that all gay men in Singapore are effectively unapprehended criminals,” said Téa Braun, director of the London-based rights group, Human Dignity Trust, in a statement.