The High Court in Singapore is set to hear if the law that criminalises gay sex in the country is unconstitutional.

This comes after a ruling by the Court of Appeal earlier this week on a bid by Tan Eng Hong to have Section 377A of the Penal Code declared unconstitutional.

This section states that a man who “commits any act of gross indecency with another man” will be punished by law.

The accused was arrested for having oral sex with another man at a public toilet in the CityLink Mall in March 2010. He later successfully applied to have 377A of the Penal Code declared unconstitutional for several reasons, including violating his right to personal liberty.

The charge against Mr Hong was then changed to a different section of the Penal Code – Section 294(a) – which meant he was charged with committing an obscene act in a public place.

Mr Hong and his partner, subsequently pleaded guilty to the amended charge and were both fined S$3,000.

According to Joanne Chan at Channel News Asia, “The Court of Appeal, presided by Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang, Judge of Appeal VK Rajah and Justice Judith Prakash, said in a 106-page judgement that they found an arguable case on the constitutionality of Section 377A that ought to be heard in the High Court.

They explained that Mr Hong was at the outset arrested, investigated, detained and charged exclusively under Section 377A. This, they said, squarely raises the issue as to whether Tan’s initial detention and prosecution were in accordance with the law.”

The judges have also pointed out that Section 377A as it stands extends to private consensual sexual conduct between adult males.

In the light of this, they added: “this provision affects the lives of a not insignificant portion of our community in a very real and intimate way.

“The constitutionality or otherwise of Section 377A is thus of real public interest. We also note that Section 377A has other effects beyond criminal sanctions.”