Veteran Singaporean diplomat calls on LGBTI community to challenge gay sex ban

Kathmandu (Pahichan) September 9 – A veteran Singaporean diplomat has called on the country’s LGBTI community to challenge the law banning male homosexual sex.

In a Facebook comment, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh encouraged Singapore’s LGBTI community to ‘bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A.’

Koh was replying to a Facebook post by Simon Chesterman, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore.

His comments come days after the historic decision by India’s Supreme Court to repeal Section 377, a law criminalizing homosexuality which was introduced when India was under British colonial rule.

Singapore has a similar law, Section 377A that bans homosexual sex between men, which was also introduced while Singapore was a British colony.

Although the law is rarely enforced, it essentially criminalizes gay men in Singapore.

Koh’s comments on Facebook

The chief of Singapore’s government communications, Janadas Devan, expressed his support of Koh’s message.

‘Speaking personally, I support Tommy’s position. 377A is a bad law; it is bad law. Sooner or later, it will go. Pray sooner rather than later,’ Devan wrote on Facebook.

In response to these comments, LGBTI rights activist Jean Chong told GSN: ‘I think it’s encouraging that more prominent persons are speaking out against keeping 377A. I think the support for repeal is growing, but not sufficient.

‘I know one law firm is planning to challenge 377A. Several law firms are interested,’ she added.

Gaining momentum

In recent months, Singapore has seen an increasing number of calls to repeal Section 377A.

In July, Singapore’s main gay pride event, Pink Dot, made a direct call to the government to repeal the law. In early August, a coalition of LGBTI rights groups wrote an open letter to Singapore’s prime minister calling for greater LGBTI equality.

On Friday (7 September), Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said Singapore’s society would determine whether the country was ready to repeal Section 377A. The minister acknowledged that a ‘growing minority’ opposed the law, but the government remained ‘in the middle’.

‘If you look at the issue, it is a deeply split society.’ Shanmugam said. ‘The majority are opposed to any change to Section 377A. They are opposed to removing it.’

Following this, Chong said she believed Section 377A will eventually be repealed. However, she maintains that the authorities will also have to take a clearer stand on the issue.

‘The government will need to be less of a coward and remember that they serve all Singaporeans, not just the majority,’ said Chong.

‘I think minority rights shouldn’t be decided by the majority. How many lessons do we have to learn from history that justice and the rights of people shouldn’t be decided in this way?’

Source : gaystarnews