76-year-old ban on gay sex challenged in Singapore’s highest court

Jul 14, 2014
Legal
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Lawyers say colonial law violates constitutional rights to equal protection

People dressed in pink attend the "Pink Dot" held in Singapore's Hong Lim Park on June 28. Photo: Xinhua

People dressed in pink attend the “Pink Dot” held in Singapore’s Hong Lim Park on June 28. Photo: Xinhua

Singapore’s highest court yesterday began hearing challenges to a 76-year-old ban on gay sex.

Lawyers for Kenneth Chee and Gary Lim argued that the ban, first adopted under British colonial rule in 1938, discriminates against gay men and violates rights to equal protection guaranteed by Singapore’s constitution. A two-day hearing before a three-judge panel began yesterday.

Singapore lawmakers in 2007 agreed to keep the law, known as Section 377A, when they repealed related provisions that had made heterosexual oral and anal sex a crime.

Gay-rights activists and church groups advocated last year against and for the ban, which the government says it hasn’t actively enforced since the mid-1990s. That prompted the Attorney General’s Chamber to warn that comment on the case could be in contempt if calculated to affect the court’s decision.

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