Singapore Court Dismisses Second Gay Rights Case
A Singapore High Court judge has rejected another constitutional challenge to a law banning male homosexuality.
Justice Quentin Loh in a 54-page decision said that his views had not changed since handing down a similar decision on another challenge to the law, Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code, in April.
The law in question criminalizes sexual conduct between men. Plaintiff Tan Eng Hong had been arrested under that law in September 2010 when he was found having sex with a man in a public bathroom. The charge was later dropped and he was instead charged with committing an obscene act in a public place. But Singapore’s Court of Appeals ruled in August 2012 that Tan could push forward with a claim against 377A’s constitutionality regardless.
Tan’s lawyer, Madasamy Ravi, argued that any act of parliament that deprives a person of those rights fails to meet the most basic principles of due process under law. The lawyer also said the Singapore alw was absurd and arbitrary and therefore fell outside the bounds of natural justice. Specifically he said the law was absurd because it targets homosexual orientation, which he said was natural and immutable.
In his decision, Justice Loh rejected those arguments, noting that foreign court decisions cited by Ravi were not evidence of the fact that homosexuality was natural and immutable and stating that science had yet to definitively prove such a thing.
Last April, Loh had ruled that the law served a legitimate purpose when enacted under British rule in 1938. He said it was the role of Singapore’s parliament and not the courts to decide whether to retain the law or discard it.
The judge pointed to his previous decision and said that he had not changed his views in the following months and that they applied fully to Tan’s case as well.
“As I said in Lim Meng Suang, we are, like many other societies around the world, in the midst of change,” Loh wrote. “It is an undeniable fact that society’s perceptions of sexual and other morals change over time. However, these changes, to varying degrees, take time, some of which can be accurately characterised as generational in nature.”
Loh’s April decision is currently under appeal. Ravi has said he is weighing an appeal as well.