Singapore’s High Court has rejected three challenges to the country’s constitution which currently puts a ban on homosexuality.
Under the British colonial-era law, which is not regularly enforced, men who have sex with men, which is described as “gross indecency”, face up to two years in jail.
Three men – retired doctor Roy Tan, DJ Johnson Ong Ming, and former executive director of LGBT group Oogachaga, Bryan Choong – last year filed separate suits aiming to strike down Section 377A of the penal code.
On Monday, Justice See Kee Oon rejected arguments that homosexuality is a natural and innate aspect of gay people.
He found that “there was no comprehensive scientific consensus that a person’s sexual orientation was biologically determined such that it is immutable.”
The judge further ruled that the ban does not violate the constitution and “serves the purpose of safeguarding public morality by showing societal moral disapproval of male homosexual acts.”
In a statement on Facebook, LGBTQ group, Pink Dot SG, expressed its deep disappointment at the regressive decision.
“The Court’s ruling effectively upholds, entrenches and continues the discrimination of a minority group,” The Statement reads.
“This undermines Singapore’s values of community, respect for the individual, and the very fabric of our multicultural and diverse nation.
“The colonial-era law, which criminalises consensual sex between men, has long been weaponised against sexual minorities. Through its trickle-down effects, Section 377A has been used to justify the discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ+ Singaporeans in areas such as housing and immigration.
“It has also rendered the community invisible in areas like the media, the workplace and education. While the repeal of Section 377A would not have been a panacea for all of these problems, it would have been a milestone—a significant step toward building a more equal and inclusive society.
“Johnson Ong, Roy Tan and Bryan Choong have bravely stood forward with their legal teams to challenge this unjust law on behalf of our community. We urge everyone, including our allies, to continue the good fight for a more equal and inclusive Singapore.”
In October 2014, Singapore’s Supreme Court also rejected a bid to repeal the criminalisation of sex between men, saying this should be up to lawmakers and not the courts.