Social Issues

Singapore refuses to repeal anti-gay relations law

Singapore, Feb 28 (EFE).- The Singapore appeals court rejected Monday an unconstitutionality petition of the penal code which punishes homosexual relationships with up to two years in prison, saying there is no “threat” of it being applied.

“There is no real or credible threat of prosecution under section 377A at this time, so there is not a sufficient basis to consider challenges to the constitutionality of this regulation,” according to the 152-page document by a panel of five judges, Channel News Asia reported.

The sentence supports a lower court, which in 2020 rejected the unconstitutionality claim against provision 377A filed by three men: Bryan Choong, former director of the NGO Oogachaga, which fights for LGBTI rights; DJ Johnson Ong Ming; and former attorney Roy Tan Seng Kee.

The three launched an appeal after the 2020 ruling in favor of preserving the regulation, by which any man who maintains or seeks a sexual relationship with another man can face a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The court of appeals led by Justice Sundaresh Menon said the “clear will of the government” of Singapore not to repeal the law responds to its “consideration that society must still adequately integrate the opposing views of conservatives and the homosexual community.”

Singapore, as said in the past by its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is not yet “ready” to repeal the law, although there is a consensus not to apply it.

Its alleged “non-applicability” was reiterated Monday by Menon, although regulations remain at the disposal of the prosecution, whose will ultimately depends on whether to use it.

The court said Monday that the right to express one’s sexual identity “is not a constitutional right,” and rejected that Law 377A is “absurd,” since “many reasonable people still see it as morally justified.”

“Many parliamentarians still speak in favor of keeping it, often claiming it safeguards the morals of society,” Menon added when reading the sentence.

The LGTBI community in Singapore has for years been fighting to repeal the law – inherited from the British colonial period – more vigorously since India repealed it in 2018. EFE


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