Singapore: Human Rights groups condemn court for upholding colonial-era anti-gay law
Human rights groups have condemned a court in Singapore for rejecting a challenge to the country’s colonial-era law criminalising gay sex.
Section 337A of the country’s penal code criminalises “any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person.”
The archaic law, which authorises a prison sentence of up to two years for gays, is still sporadically enforced in the country – with the last conviction in 2010.
The country’s Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a ruling refusing to strike down the law, striking a blow to the country’s gay rights movement.
Human Rights Watch has called the decision “a major setback for equal rights”, adding that it “tramples upon basic rights to privacy, equality and non-discrimination”.
On Thursday, 14 local human rights groups released a statement saying the court had missed an opportunity to show that Singapore was “a truly accepting, open and inclusive society”.
According to the BBC, the groups said the law “gives carte blanche for discrimination and reinforces prejudice”.
The statement added: “To be viewed as equal in the eyes of the law… is a right to which every Singaporean should be entitled, and not denied on the basis of whom they love.”
Jean Chong, spokesman for lesbian group Sayoni,said the ruling LGBT Singaporeans “second-class citizens”.
A lesbian kiss was recently censored from an airing of Doctor Who in the country, to comply with tough broadcasting codes.