A Major Setback for Gay Rights in Singapore

By Huiyu Yin

On October 29, 2014, a ruling came down from Singapore’s Supreme Court to uphold the country’s ban on same-sex relations between consenting adult men, disappointing homosexual people in Singapore once again.

Singapore introduced Penal Code section 377A in 1938, which criminalized consensual acts of sodomy between heterosexual adults. In 2007, the Singaporean government conducted a review of section 377A but refused to eliminate the discriminatory law. In July 2014, the Supreme Court heard a joint appeal by three Singaporean citizens contesting section 377A. Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee had been involved in a romantic relationship for 16 years. They were joined in their appeal by Tan Eng Hong, who had been arrested in 2010 for allegedly engaging in a sexual encounter with another man. The Singaporean Supreme Court however held that section 377A does not violate articles 9 and 12 of the country’s constitution. Those articles are supposed guarantee the right to life and personal liberty and provide that all people are entitled to equal protection before the law.