Challenge against Section 377A: Chief Justice says Govt’s ‘compromise’ on enforcement should be considered

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01/25/2021

SINGAPORE – Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the “political compromise” struck by the Government in 2007 – to keep Section 377A of the Penal Code but not enforce it – should be a factor in determining whether the law, which criminalises sex between men, passes muster. The Chief Justice made the point repeatedly on Monday (Jan 25) in the course of arguments on the constitutionality of Section 377A. Three men who separately challenged the law were appealing to a five-judge panel against a High Court decision last year to dismiss their cases. The trio are Dr Roy Tan Seng Kee, a retired general practitioner and activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights; Mr Johnson Ong Ming, a disc jockey; and Mr Bryan Choong, the former executive director of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga. They contended that Section 377A, which was enacted in 1938, should be struck down as it violates Article 12 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law. They argued that the law criminalises sex acts only between homosexual men, but not acts between homosexual women or heterosexuals.

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