The Singapore Supreme Court upheld a law criminalizing sex between men, dismissing three separate appeals alleging that the law was unconstitutional.
On Monday, two lawyers involved in the hearings released their decision, according to Reuters.
The move comes after a series of challenges last year to Singapore’s controversial gay sex law, which has its roots in the country’s colonial era.
According to their lawyers, the applicants argued that section 377A, a law rarely implemented, under which a man convicted of an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be imprisoned for a period which may going up to two years is unconstitutional.
The law does not apply to lesbians.
Singaporean broadcaster CNA reported that the verdict was announced in court four months after the three men ‘s lawyers made their case: Johnson Ong Ming, disc jockey, Roy Tan Seng Kee, retired general practitioner and Bryan Choong Chee Hoong, the former executive director of the non-profit organization LGBT + Oogachaga.
Tan’s lawyer, only known as Ravi, told local media that the decision was “staggering” and “utterly shocking”.
He argued that “the absurd and arbitrary application” of the law is a violation of the Constitution because all gay and bisexual men are obliged to report their consensual private sexual acts to the police.
According to Ravi, the law violates the right to equality and personal freedom. The lawyer said he was working with a team to assess the prospects for an appeal.
Discrimination and violation of rights
Choong’s lawyers, led by lead attorney Harpreet Singh Nehal, had advanced this argument on the basis of new historical documents that were not available during a 2014 call, CNA reported.
The lawyers referred to recently declassified documents showing that the introduction of section 377A in 1938 was to criminalize “endemic male prostitution” while Singapore was under British colonial rule.
According to AIIC, lawyers for Ong, led by Eugene Thuraisingam, argued that LGBT + people cannot voluntarily change their sexual orientation, adding that section 377A is discriminatory and violates the Constitution.
Judge See Kee Oon will give his full judgment at a later date, lawyers told CNA journalists before the chambers shortly after the decision.
“Legitimate and reasonable”
The chambers of the Attorney General argued that the law on sexual relations against homosexuals serves a “legitimate and reasonable” public interest, “whether it is applied or not”.
They said the issue was “a deeply conflicting socio-political issue” which should rather be decided by parliament, as it includes democratically elected representatives accountable to Singaporeans, the CNA reported.