Leaving Gays or 377A Alone

An interesting development. The judiciary, often unfairly seen as a homogeneous lot from the eyes of pundits, is laying out that 377A can be challenged. The court of appeal allowed Tan Eng Hong to challenge the constitutional basis of 377A and that no crime was committed by him when he had oral sex with another man in a public toilet. Gay rights activists would be pleased.  Conservative Christians and Muslims would be displeased.

377A is a live and let live law and the government earlier signaled its intention to leave it as another colonial quirk in 2007. This status quo move was to please both the gay and anti-gay camps in spirit, but turned out that it offended the gay community instead as it essentially made them criminals in the eyes of the law. Yet if it was live and let live, why was this gay man dragged to court and initially charged under 377A? The official line is that he committed an act of public indecency – yes, it was a public toilet. But we don’t hear of heterosexual couples having oral sex in cars and public toilets being arrested for public indecency. M Ravi, the lawyer defending Tay Eng Hong, has a strong case here and after the repeal of the mandatory death penalty in drug offences, fixed another feather in his dandy cap soon.

In 2007, the government pledged that they would leave gays alone, and leave 377A alone. The arrest of Tay Eng Hong in a Citylink public toilet in 2010 showed that the government went back on its word. No more, no less.



Singapore court okays challenge to anti-gay law

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s highest court has cleared the way for a constitutional challenge against a law criminalising sex between men, local media reported Wednesday.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday struck down a High Court decision disallowing the challenge, launched by a man who was arrested after being caught with a male partner in a public toilet cubicle in 2010.

The new ruling is expected to trigger a fresh debate over a provision in the penal code known as Section 377A, which traces its origins to British colonial rule and carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail for homosexual acts.

While the provision has not been enforced actively by Singapore authorities against men who engage in consensual sex in private, the local gay community and rights activists want it totally scrapped.

The constitutional challenge was first filed two years ago by Tan Eng Hong, a 49-year-old man initially charged under the section after being caught engaging in oral sex with another man in a toilet cubicle at a shopping centre.

After Tan’s lawyer raised the constitutional issue, the charge was reduced by prosecutors to one of committing an obscene act in public, for which the two accused men were fined Sg$3,000 ($2,400) each, the Straits Times said.

Tan pursued his challenge against the provision, saying it clashes with a constitutional article guaranteeing equal protection under the law.

The appeal court’s ruling, published Wednesday on a website run by the Singapore Academy of Law, said the “constitutionality or otherwise” of Section 377A was “of real public interest”.

It said the provision “affects the lives of a not insignificant portion of our community in a very real and intimate way”.

“Such persons might plausibly assert that the continued existence of Section 377A in our statute books causes them to be unapprehended felons in the privacy of their homes,” the ruling added.

Section 377A 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 2 years.”

Singapore officials have openly promised that gays won’t be hounded under this law, but say it must stay in the books because most Singaporeans are conservative and still do not accept homosexuality.


6 responses

  1. Gerald Heng Sr

    The Singapore Judiciary Current Progressive Latitute given to Gays isn’t surprising because in the UK in the later 1950’s around the time of Singapore’s self-government the Common Law Courts have already de-criminalized Activies of Consenting Adults of both sexes in private domains ! Nowdays in Canada and some states of USA same sex homosexual marriages are allowed, or sanction Domestic Civil Unions of Consensual Adults without giving legality to marriage as such !During Colonial Times in Singapore/Malaysia the authorities knew such homosexual avenues of sexual gratification are around and because generally they being victimless crimes ,they never actively discouraged or encouraged !

    Gerald Heng Sr.
    Metrowest Boston,MA. USA.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    • Gerald Heng Sr

      Just so we all know The Gay Homosexual Communities globally in the Free World aren’t the New Normal of Sexual Interpersonal Orientation for there are no psycho-sociological basis nor a scientific biological for such same sex attractions and entanglements ! The Same Sex Marriage and Civil Union Laws in the UK,some states of USA and Canada are treated as Minority Rights and that such Gay People should be left alone as their Consensual Unions shouldn’t be Criminalize as the cases where they do occur in non-violent Consensual Milleu are Victimless Crimes !The majority of the People in the Free World as we all know are hetero-sexual in Orientation and marriages are entered into as such for a traditionally Public Sanction Union of one Man/one Woman for the last 5000 years of Human History !

      Gerald Heng Sr.
      Metrowest Boston,MA. USA.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:19 am

      • Paul

        One man one woman marriages only were the norm in Singapore after the 1960s. Before that for about 5,000 years, it was one man, many women if you could afford it. Useful to get your facts right

        August 28, 2012 at 9:51 pm

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 28 Aug 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  3. Gerald Heng Sr

    Paul in China it wasn’t really Marriage of one Man and One Woman polygamy like the Muslims was quite rampant as a matter of anthropology and economic Family Organization . The Imperial Emperors of varied Dynasties { Damned they Die Nasty] took many Concubines after the First Imperial Consort. Never called 2nd or 3rd wife they rebeled and Lo and Behold Concubines Yang Kwei-Fei and Dowager Empress XiXi[Suzie] beame Empress of China, they were both noted for their youthful beauty in the eyes of the Silly Old Emperors ! At least with the Dreams of the Red Chamber Yang Kwei Fei has had good credentials as a Beauty and Brainy Empress from the lowly Emperor’s Plaything De Concubine !What Night games they play in the Bed Chamber remain mysterious and intriguing ! Our 21st Century has gravitated to homosexuality as a minority civil right of association whether for better or worse !and in some rare cases the mutual homo-attractions aren’t necessary sexual,it can be cerebral !

    Gerald Heng Sr.
    Metrowest Boston,MA. USA.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:38 am

  4. Pingback: My News Summary – 1 Sep 2012 « Posts by Barrie

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