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13 Aug 2013

Singapore: Tan Eng Hong makes application to intervene in anti-gay sex law appeal

The first man to challenge Singapore's law which criminalises sex between men has today made an application to the High Court to be recognised as an interested party and to intervene in Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee's upcoming Court of Appeal hearing as the outcome of this appeal may affect Tan's case in which judgment is still pending.

Tan Eng Hong, who brought the first legal challenge in September 2010 to have section 377A declared discriminatory and unconstitutional, has made an application to the High Court to be recognised as an interested party in the Court of Appeal hearing scheduled for December 2013, according to a media statement issued by Tan’s lawyer M Ravi today. The law currently prohibits sex between men and provides for a jail term of up to two years.

Tan Eng Hong is represented by M Ravi (above).

The hearing in December has been scheduled to hear the case of Gary Lim and Mr Kenneth Chee, who made their own challenge before the High Court, following a Court of Appeal decision – resulting from Tan’s earlier challenge – that all gay men may have a right to be heard before the Court on the issue of whether s377A infringes on their Constitutional protections to such a degree that it may be struck down by the Courts.

When contacted by Fridae, M Ravi said that he hopes to be able to present his arguments during the hearing so that the Court has the “fullest opportunity to hear the arguments” as not being able to do so may “abbreviate his client’s rights to the appeal process” and impact his client’s case which is still pending.

As noted in the media statement, Lim and Chee’s case was advanced ahead of Tan’s hearing before the High Court. It read: “The High Court Judge, Justice Quentin Loh, who heard both matters within a month of each other earlier this year, issued a judgement in Lim and Chee’s case on 9 April 2013, roughly five months from the date of their original application before the Court. Tan, in the meantime, has received no judgement from the High Court, though it has been two years and 11 months since his matter came before the Court.”

As such, Tan is seeking to intervene in Lim and Chee's appeal as the outcome of this appeal will affect his case in which judgment is still pending. He is asking the Court to “consider the Constitutional guarantees providing for a fair trial, ensuring the right to due process and equal treatment before the law when deliberating on his application to the Court.”

Lim and Chee last month announced a new legal team comprising Senior Counsel Deborah Barker of KhattarWong LLP, one of Singapore’s largest law firms; and England’s former attorney-general Queen’s Counsel Peter Goldsmith. A hearing on whether Lord Goldsmith can be admitted to present the case alongside Barker will be heard in an open court before Justice VK Rajah on August 29. Queen’s Counsels are allowed by Singapore courts only if they have expertise that is relevant to the case or if there are special circumstances such as a lack of suitable local lawyers. Lord Goldsmith will represent the couple pro bono. Lim and Chee's spokesperson was unable to respond to queries by press time when contacted.

Singapore

Reader's Comments

1. 2013-08-13 21:46  
This law is archaic, a remnant of the Victorian Age and inherited from the British colony. It has no relevance to the 21st century and should be abolished immediately. Do the right thing, do the brave thing. It is complete bigotry to criminalized what consenting adults do in private.
2. 2013-08-14 13:57  
Well said, #1, and I totally agree with all that you've expressed.

So, let us all put our money where our mouths are and be ready to contribute to any sort of defence fund that may be set up on behalf of Tan Eng Hong in future. We've each of us given what we could to Gary and Kenneth's fund-raising efforts. Tan Eng Hong's case is no different and is, in fact, inextricably linked to Gary and Kenneth's so, let us not forget that, if one appeal fails, the other would, as a natural consequence, suffer the same fate. I love to wax lyrical myself especially when it's always easy to do so on one's keyboard. But, in order for this cause (be it Gary and Kenneth's appeal or Tan Eng Hong's) to succeed, it's critical for each of us to stand up in support, not just by writing or speaking about it but through a concrete contribution however small it may be.
3. 2013-08-14 15:11  
Choice:
1. Will u afraid of threatening from some communities by sacrifice LGBT and honesty?
2. You should know the nature of Holly Book, if not you will be played with. they will not stop to threaten you, stop for awhile and after they have no more enough money again, they will threat you again..and so on..so u will have no stable situation if you can not ban that threatening
Even if you sacrifice LGBT, there will be time that they will eat you
4. 2013-08-14 17:43  
If they are so keen to follow British laws try the modern British law and abolish anti-gay laws, better still allow gay marriage :)
Comment #5 was deleted by its author on 2013-08-14 17:43
Comment #6 was deleted by its author on 2013-08-16 02:40
7. 2013-08-16 02:39  
The fact of this enormous delay in issuing a judgement convinces me that there is a lot of behind the scenes politicking going on presumably among the 'establishment'.

Is this really the way that ordinary Singaporeans wish to be governed?

I know that Singapore politics is played on the basis of 'don't rock the boat that fills my pocket' and we will allow you to rule, but this case demonstrates the consequence - rule of the few to the detriment of the many

No one but no one needs 35 months to research the laws and legal precedent. The matter is so very simple - does the state have the right to discriminate between men and women or the right to go into the bedrooms of peaceful citizens.

Finally law is not made by declarations of government ministers, it is made by the elected representatives of the people in Parliament and no one can stop enforcement of the law.
Comment edited on 2013-08-16 02:46:57
8. 2013-08-17 12:19  
Sorry to say we Brits - yes I'm one - have a lot to answer for foisting these Victorian laws on our ex-colonies, but it is now long enough since independence for ALL these countries to throw out ALL of this discriminatory legislation, in whatever form. But of course the politicians in various nation states, not just Singapore, have various axes to grind not least their religious bigotry and trying to appeal to an indoctrinated public.
I have lived in Thailand since retiring 5 years ago and thank heavens Thailand having never been colonised by the Western powers does not have to bare this awful colonial burden, which has resulted in a very tolerant, open society as far as gay activities are concerned.
Additionally, I feel, as it is largely a Buddhist country it doesn't have the Islamic or Judo-Christian traditions and bigoted believes to worry about. We have not yet gained gay marriage or legal civil partnerships here but it is currently being debated by a parliamentary committee, with popular public support.

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