Singapore in Brief

Singapore Court Quashes Challenge to Gay Sex Ban

The Singapore Supreme Court has decided against challenging the law which bans sex between gay men. The court said it shouldn’t “step into the shoes of parliament”, which decided in 2007 not to repeal the law.

 

“The court can only listen to one voice, the legal voice,” Judge Andrew Phang said, on his decision to uphold the law, known as Section 377A of the Penal Code.

 

Deborah Barker, a lawyer for two of the men challenging the law, had argued that the law is based on the arbitrary dislike of a majority, enacted when Singapore was a British colony and based on a nineteenth-century ban.

 

She argued that if the government maintains that the law is constitutional are correct, then parliament could legislate to prohibit women from driving, she had said in her written arguments.

 

Barker also argued that the objective of Section 377A when it was first enacted was probably intended to suppress male prostitution at that time. She said the law is overly inclusive, covering gay men in today’s context and should be modified.

 

“The issue before the court is not an emotional one but a constitutional one of” rights to liberty, equality and life, Barker said.

 

M. Ravi, a lawyer for the other man trying to overturn the law, said its outlawing of “gross indecency” between men is vague and “obviousy discriminatory”.

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