Singapore’s highest court ruled yesterday that the country’s sodomy law is constitutional
The law, known as Section 377a, has been in place since Singapore was a British colony. It carries up to a two-year jail term for men who commit acts of "gross indecency" with other men, whether in public or in private.
Yesterday’s ruling came in response to lawsuits by couple of 16 years Gary Lim [above right] and Kenneth Chee [above left], and by Tan Eng Hong, who was charged under the anti-sodomy law after being arrested while having sex in a public restroom in 2010.
Both lawsuits argued that Section 377a infringes their constitutional right to equal protection under Article 12 of the Constitution, and violates their right to life and liberty, as guaranteed by Article 9.
The Court of Appeal found that Section 377a did not violate Article 9 as the phrase "life and liberty" referred only to the personal liberty of a person from unlawful incarceration, not to the right of privacy and personal autonomy. The court also found that Section 377a fell outside the scope of Article 12, which forbids discrimination of citizens on grounds including religion, race and place of birth but does not contain the words "gender", "sex" and "sexual orientation.”
Mr Tan’s lawyer M. Ravi said that the decision a "huge step backwards for human rights in Singapore".
Earlier this year, Singapore libraries withdrew two books with gay characters, citing "pro-family" standards.
Watch Gareth Lim and Kenneth Chee discuss their relationship and the case, AFTER THE JUMP…