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18 Dec 2012

Singapore: Court to hear section 377A challenge on Feb 14

A date has been set to hear a challenge filed by a gay couple who are seeking to have section 377A, which outlaws sexual relations between men, declared unconstitutional.

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A Singaporean gay couple of 15 years, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, who filed a legal challenge last month, will have their case heard in the High Court on Feb 14 next year, the Singapore Straits Times reported today.

The couple is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of section 377A of the Penal Code that prohibits sexual relations between men following a landmark ruling in August by the Singapore Court of Appeal in *Tan Eng Hong v Attorney General* that clarifies that the very existence of an unconstitutional law in the statute books may suffice to show a violation of an applicant’s constitutional rights.

Judge of Appeal V. K. Rajah’s written judgment in August noted the difference between "no proactive enforcement" and "no enforcement" as the government declared in October 2007 that section 377A will not be "proactively enforced". It further declared the constitutionality or otherwise of s 377A to be of real public interest and that the "continued existence of s 377A in our statute books causes them (gay men) to be unapprehended felons in the privacy of their homes.”

The applicants are represented by Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi of Peter Low LLC, and Indulekshmi Rajeswari of Myintsoe & Selvaraj while the state will be represented by Chief Prosecutor Aedit Abdullah.

An earlier case initiated by Tan Eng Hong which also seeks to have section 377A declared unconstitutional will proceed separately. He is represented by M Ravi. The case is set to be heard Jan 25.

Singapore

Reader's Comments

1. 2012-12-18 21:53
the petition to support them:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/We_Support_a_Gay_Couple_that_challenge_Singapores_law_which_criminalize_gay_men/?cncGedb
2. 2012-12-19 02:19
This is what I was afraid of.
When these petitions come to the attention of the general public, the homophobes will counter-petition...and they have the weight of numbers behind them.
Let's keep these petitions down and as quiet as possible.
We can blow our horns and thump our chests as loudly as we like after the Court of Appeal has finally ruled in our favour.
To create a loud ruckus prematurely would be counter-productive.
We want to let the judges make their independent decision solely on legal grounds without any pressure from society, foreign influences or the government.
Comment #3 was deleted by its author on 2012-12-19 23:33
4. 2012-12-19 17:53
“as the government declared in October 2007 that section 377A will not be proactively enforced” – This already means that there is no use for the law anymore, and that it should have been removed years ago.

In this particular instance the Singapore powers that be have been and still aren’t of sound mind, as well as incapable of rational thought. All they are interested in is cashing in on the ‘pink’ dollar without giving people their rights. It will be another whitewash supported by numerous silly excuses, supported by political reasons not to be understood by the Singaporean public.
5. 2012-12-19 23:33
I think the ruling party's arms are tied about this...if they were to come out and support us... The oppositions and the conservatives will be up in arm against them (we all know how deeply influenced and entrenched are most Singaporeans with the Evangelistic Churches! as attested by the CHC incident)....guess they have to appear neutral! Given the current climate with the public disenfranchised about the FTs issues, they can't afford to aggravate the the public anymore then they already have! Hope the court will be able to help the gay population of Singapore without involving them!!
I agree that its better to slip this one in and not draw too much attention! otherwise as polinc said we will have an even bigger obstacle to overcome, as they have the numbers and we don't!. If the court rule in our favor than those conservative and homophobes will not be able to do much!!! If not, than we will have to keep chipping at it...
Sadly, looks like we are on our own with this one !
Comment edited on 2012-12-19 23:35:20
6. 2012-12-25 09:51
Full support to singapore on this one!
If fitnfriendly's views about the ruling party are correct, then getting a judicial verdict will help them save face so they can proceed with making official what has been their unofficial stance all along: that gay is ok!
Good luck guys!

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