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2 Oct 2013

Singapore High Court upholds anti-gay law in Tan Eng Hong's case

Singapore High court Justice Quentin Loh today upheld the law which criminalises sex between men.

Singapore High Court Justice Quentin Loh today released a judgement in the Constitutional challenge of statute 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, upholding the law which criminalises sex between men and provides a jail term of up to two years.

In a 54-page judgment, Justice Loh has "found that the statute has not infringed the rights of the plaintiff, Tan Eng Hong, and is not inconsistent with Articles 9 and 12 of the Constitution of Singapore, which ensures that one will not be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law and that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law, respectively," according to a media statement issued by Tan's lawyer, M Ravi.

While Justice Loh responded to wide-ranging arguments from decisions made by foreign courts to decriminalise male to male sex to criminalising a "natural and immutable attribute" made by M Ravi, he also said of section 377A: "The purpose and object of s 377A when its very first predecessor was enacted in 1938 was to respond to a prevalence of grossly indecent acts between makes – whether in public or in private – which the Legislature deemed a regrettable state of affairs that was not desirable... The purpose and object of s 377A remains the same today."

In response to today's judgment, M Ravi, who has been working on the case for more than three years, told Fridae that his team will study the judgement before a decision is made whether to appeal the ruling.

In April this year, Justice Loh dismissed a legal challenge filed by a gay couple Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee. The two men, who have been partners for 15 years, had sought to challenge the constitutionality of section 377A of the Penal Code.


Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-02 18:17
Comment #2 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-02 18:17
3. 2013-10-02 22:31  
In a 54-page judgement on Wednesday, Justice Quentin Loh said the basis of Section 377A is "an issue of morality and societal values".
4. 2013-10-03 02:25  
Saddened. When will Singapore catch up with advanced thinking about LGBT issues? Is her only aspiration to be a strong financial center?
5. 2013-10-03 10:01  
Shameful. I'm sorry for Singapore, that the government chooses to institutionalize bigotry and prejudice.
Comment #6 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-03 10:02
Comment #7 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-04 10:40
Comment #8 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-03 12:00
9. 2013-10-03 11:58  
For a country so dependent on tourism as is Singapore, this decision is shocking. Perhaps gays should make a public decision not to travel to Singapore until the laws change there. What is good enough for the Russians during the Olympics is certainly appropriate action for the Singaporeans.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-03 12:00
Comment #11 was deleted by its author on 2013-10-03 12:00
12. 2013-10-03 12:00  
This is a shocking decision, especially coming from a country so dependent on tourism. Perhaps it's time for gay travellers to make publicly avoid travelling to the city state, until laws are changed there. After all, what is good enough for the Russians, seems appropriate enough action against the Singaporeans.
13. 2013-10-03 12:39  
its a question of human rights. and to uphold this law suggests that the minority is cuffed to a ticking time bomb that can explode anytime.
14. 2013-10-03 12:46  
This is Singapore's national pledge:

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

I ask, personally, really? One united people, based on equality?

More like Animal Farm... "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others'...
15. 2013-10-03 13:49  
Stone age mindset prevails in a modern city/country. Sad but not surprised.
16. 2013-10-03 14:05  
This is but a set-back not a catastrophe, in my opinion. In all wars, battles have been fought and lost but the proof of the pudding is always who comes out the victor in the end.

Nelson Mandela fought and lost many battles in his war against apartheid in South Africa. He spent at least 2 decades incarcerated but never lost hope. The same can be said of Mahatma Gandhi in his non-violent stand against the oppressive British Raj in India. In the end, both Mandela and Gandhi came out the victors. But, along the way, they did lose many battles. The massacre at the Golden Temple in Amritsar is a case in point. Yet, that sad event did not make Indians lose heart in their fight against the colonial yoke although many innocent civilians had lost their lives.

The same analogy can be drawn in the LGBT community's fight for equality in Singapore. This is but one battle out of many we will have to fight in this war against deliberate and premeditated state oppression.

As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said : "In the end, tyranny and oppression cannot stand up against the TRUTH".

Comment edited on 2013-10-03 14:27:17
17. 2013-10-04 00:51  
It would have been more interesting if it had been scheduled before a different judge, who would have theoretically been free to come to a different view, rather than someone who has already ruled on the issue. But this result was most likely before this lower court.

However the real hearings will be in the Court of Appeal. It is a great shame that Lord Goldsmith, QC has been snubbed there, the presence of such a senior international advocate and former Attorney General would have added gravitas to the whole proceedings. But at least his written arguments are being presented, and there is every reason for optimism.
Comment edited on 2013-10-04 00:58:41
18. 2013-10-05 17:11  
Seems to be a competition between SG and Malaysia to see which state can be more backwards. This is a question about fairness, not of tourism revenue, for the person who made that his argument. It is wrong to base decisions on equality on economic benefits. It could go the other way, too, if another hypothetical nation had a lot of right wing religious fundamentalist tourists. One can only hope that justice Loh has a pair of gay children. That should cause some soul searching, or maybe Loh would kick his gay kids out of the house.
19. 2013-10-05 18:00  
It seems like the judge is saying that gay sex is grossly indecent, regrettable, and not desirable. These are all adjectives which are very subjective. By the will of the people of SG and political supporters, it seems likely that as long as there will someday be a widespread sentiment that gay sex is not indecent, regrettable, or undesirable for gay citizens and simply not the business of non-gay citizens, then it stands that logically the law can be removed. The judge can really not claim that his opinion represents the people of SG without more proof. And I don't think SG is very backward. The USA only recently changed its position and laws for gay marriage. It's not like they've had these rights for centuries or anything. Gay people aren't going anywhere and things are certainly much better today than in the past.
20. 2013-10-05 23:37  
sex isnot just abt business..its a form of affection that a human can show regarding his feelings...
21. 2013-10-05 23:38  
sex isnot just abt business..its a form of affection that a human can show regarding his feelings...
22. 2013-10-07 11:44  
23. 2013-10-07 11:45  
Singapore: continuing to live in the sexual Dark Age....come on! Time to join the 21st century!
24. 2013-10-09 21:32  
when religion come to our country at first?
it was minority status of religion when first come to our country.
and religion is not social value at that time.

Religion is immoral value in regard to Human right and Human existency.

In accordance with equal justice,
If there Anti gay law
There must be Anti Religion Law
Anti Malay Law
Anti Black men Law, Etc.

Judgment should be wise
we are not animals that refer to forest Law

Religion indicate that you faith to satan.
it is like Bread consist poison Jam inside.
Mean that exterior is bread, but when you eat..you will get harmful, discriminate your self.

Mean..it look like faithful to God in exterior
But Satanic interior

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