Singaporean top court rejects appeal to overturn gay sex ban law

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The Supreme Court of Singapore upheld a law that criminalises sex between men, dismissing three separate appeals claiming that the legislation was unconstitutional, dealing a blow to the city state’s LGBT movement.

The decision comes after a series of challenges last year to Singapore’s controversial gay sex law, which has its roots in the country’s British colonial era.

The high court rejected appeals by three gay men who had argued the colonial-era law was unconstitutional.

The latest attempt to overturn the law was led by three people – a retired doctor, a DJ and an LGBT rights advocate – who lodged court challenges seeking to prove the law is unconstitutional.

But the high court dismissed all three after hearing them together behind closed doors. It ruled that the law did not violate articles of the constitution regarding equality and freedom of speech.

The presiding judge said the law was “important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” in Singapore.

Under Section 377A, men found guilty of homosexual acts in public or private can be jailed for up to two years.

Speaking outside court, a lawyer for one of the complainants, M Ravi, said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling.

One of the men who lodged the appeal told Reuters news agency he was disappointed by the ruling, adding “my eyes are firmly on the road ahead”.

The legal challenges were the latest attempts to repeal Section 377A, after an effort by a gay couple in 2014 was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

But the LGBT rights movement in Singapore regained momentum after India’s decision to scrap similar legislation in 2018 renewed hopes for reform.

Singapore’s authorities rarely enforce Section 377A, first introduced in 1938 by British colonial rulers.

But Singapore’s leaders, including its current prime minister, have refused to remove it, saying it reflects the conservative mores of the city state’s society.

In Monday’s judgement, the court echoed that sentiment, saying non-enforcement of the law against consensual gay sex in private did not render it redundant.

Currently 70 countries criminalise same-sex relations. (Source: BBC)

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