Wed, Sep 26, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Singaporean diplomat calls for repeal of gay sex law

AFP, SINGAPORE

One of Singapore’s most influential diplomats yesterday called for the repeal of a law criminalizing sex between men, saying that it was time for the city-state to abandon the “antiquated” legislation.

The Indian Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to decriminalize homosexual sex has sparked fresh debate in Singapore, and a new legal challenge has been lodged against the city-state’s anti-gay sex law.

RARELY ENFORCED

Sex between men remains illegal in Singapore under Section 377A of the penal code, inherited from the British colonial era, although it is rarely enforced.

Tommy Koh, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to the UN and the US, wrote in a column for the the Straits Times, a pro-government newspaper, that the statute should be abandoned.

“Section 377A is an antiquated law, not supported by science, and should be repealed,” said Koh, an international law expert and ambassador-at-large in the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 80-year-old said Singapore is one of a minority of countries that still outlaw sodomy, because the law was inherited from the old British penal code.

“For a country which embraces science and technology, it is surprising that, on this one aspect, the law has not been updated in light of the scientific evidence,” he said.

NOT A CRIME

Koh said that the WHO had removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and while religious leaders consider sodomy a sin, it should not be a crime.

The last time a challenge was brought against the law was in 2014, but the city-state’s appeals court dismissed it, saying that it was up to the Singaporean parliament to repeal the law.

COURT CHALLENGE

A Singaporean DJ, Johnson Ong, lodged a challenge this month.

Lawyers for Ong, known as DJ Big Kid, said that they would seek to show that the ban runs counter to the constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty.

While affluent Singapore boasts a modern and vibrant culture, official attitudes toward homosexuality remain conservative, but public support for gay rights has been growing, with thousands turning up in the past few years for Singapore’s annual Pink Dot gay rights rally.

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