“Gay Sex Is Still A Crime,” Says Singapore’s High Court

Stock Photo / Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

We have sad news from Singapore, it appears that gay rights won’t be acknowledged in that corner of the world anytime soon.

According to the South China Morning Post, Singapore’s High Court decided on Monday whether to decriminalize gay sex. The High Courts’ judges ultimately chose to support Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes the act.

The legal bid to oppose the law was brought forth by three gay rights activists. One of those three activists, Byran Choong who’s the former executive director of LGBTQ non-profit Oogachaga, originally argued that the law stemmed from the desire to eliminate male prostitution during British colonial rule. The other two plaintiffs, disc jockey and producer Johnson Ong Ming and retired general practitioner Roy Tan, then argued that Section 377A was discriminatory by citing scientific evidence showing that sexual orientation or attraction cannot be willfully changed.

Screenshot via YouTube @Somlit

In addition, this legal bid was joined by a petition to have Section 377A deemed as unconstitutional. The petition gained more than 109,000 signatures from Singaporean citizens and their international allies.

As the petition’s mission statement stated:

“By repealing the section 377A penal code, it would begin to normalize homosexual behaviours as a societal norm and lead to greater push for other LGBT rights in our conservative society as we have seen played out in other western societies today. We do not think the vocal minority should impose their values and practice on the silent majority who are still largely conservative.” 

“Hence, if you among the silent majority, please sign this petition to support and reiterate our position to the Singapore government that we wants the Penal Code 377A to stay.”

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash

Sadly, Singapore’s High Court decided not to support the decriminalization, which shocked many. Lawyer M. Ravi, who represented Tan, said that the judgment was “utterly shocking and astounding to the conscience.” He then added that there was an “international momentum of striking out this archaic legislation.”

Truly, we are now in a time of many former British colonies looking at laws placed during British rule and whether they are appropriate for modern life. Specifically, British rules banning gay sex have come into conversation in a number of nations. From India’s Supreme Court ruling that the Section 377 law was unconstitutional to Botswana’s High Court deciding the same for the similar Section 164 and Section 16 laws.

Unfortunately, there has also been conservative pushback on the matter. Last year, Kenya’s High Court decided to keep their anti-gay laws. And again, it appears that Singapore’s judges have recently decided the same. But how long will their ruling last? It’s safe to say that LGBTQ people will continue to fight for their rights and acknowledgment by the law, but how long will they have to continue to fight for this fundamental first step? Only time will tell.

Sources: South China Morning Post, The Independent

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