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Singapore doubles down on homophobia, says millions of men are breaking the law by having gay sex

Emma Powys Maurice March 30, 2020
Singapore

LGBT+ people of Singapore form the words 'Repeal 377A' at the Pink Dot Rally on June 29, 2019. (Ore Huiying/Getty)

The Singapore High Court has dismissed three separate challenges to a law that criminalises sex acts between men.

Gay and bisexual men in Singapore will continue to live as “un-apprehended criminals” under Section 377A, an outdated law colonial-era law.

Section 377A defines sex between consenting men as “acts of gross indecency” punishable by up to two years in prison. This also extends to anyone who abets, procures or attempts to procure such acts, but does not apply to lesbians.

Last year three separate challenges against Section 377A were launched by three Singaporean activists, including an organiser of the Pink Dot rally.

Prior to this there had been two unsuccessful attempts to repeal the law in recent years, but the trio petitioned the High Court to revisit its earlier decision in light of new evidence.

However on Monday, March 30, the High Court doubled down on its previous rulings by dismissing all appeals and upholding the discriminatory law.

The verdict was “astounding” and “utterly shocking”, said one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Mr M Ravi, who had argued that Section 377A infringes the right to equality, life, personal liberty and expression.

“It still criminalises [gays and bisexuals],” he told reporters outside of the courtroom. “You see members of the gay community who don’t have a control over the sexuality and they are going to be criminalised.”

Speaking to The Gay UK, Téa Braun of the Human Dignity Trust said: “This decision will be extremely disappointing for the plaintiffs and the wider LGBT+ community in Singapore, who had great hopes that new evidence presented to the court would make it clear that these draconian laws cannot withstand proper constitutional scrutiny.

“The ruling will also echo harmfully around Asia, where millions of people are criminalised simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

LGBT+ rights remain a thorny issue in the socially-conservative city-state, but Singaporean activists are determined to see change.

One of the three plaintiffs, Bryan Choong Chee Hoong, confirmed that he intends to appeal the decision and said that his eyes are “firmly on the road ahead”.

More: criminalisation of homosexuality, pink dot, Section 377A, Singapore

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