Singapore’s colonial-era sodomy laws are to face a High Court challenge to their constitutionality.
Section 377A of the Singaporean Penal Code states, “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, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.”
The challenge to Section 377A has been launched by Tan Eng Hong, a man charged with having consensual oral sex with another man after an alleged incident in a shopping centre toilet earlier this year.
“The continuance of Section 377A on the statute book operates to brutalise a vulnerable minority segment of the citizenry for no fault on its point,” Tan’s lawyer wrote in an application to the court.
“A section of society has been thus criminalised and stigmatised to a point where individuals are forced to deny the core of their identity and vital dimensions of their personality.”
Since former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made a statement in support of tolerance for homosexuals in 2007, Singapore’s Government has repeatedly stated it would decriminalise homosexuality without delivering.
In 2007 the Government legalised anal and oral sex between heterosexuals but left gay men out.
Singapore’s peak GLBT lobby group People Like Us noted that Singapore already had legislation that could be used to police indecent behaviour in its Miscellaneous Offences Act which did not discriminate on the basis of a person’s sex or sexuality.
“That said, People Like Us do not condone sex in public spaces where conflict with other members of society can occur. At no time do we say that these should not be prosecutable offences,” the group said in a statement.
Similar court challenges led to the repeal of colonial-era sodomy laws in Nepal and India in 2007 and 2009.