Wednesday, 6 March 2013, was the day Tan Eng Hong’s challenge to the constitutionality of Section 377A was heard in closed court. Section 377A of the Penal Code is the law that criminalises “gross indecency” between two men.
This follows quite soon after the court date for another challenge to the same law, mounted by Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee and reported in First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court.
In the Tan Eng Hong case, there are pages and pages of arguments, but my sense, on reading them, is that the issue is being distilled to a few crucial points. And these crucial points are not specific to the “gay issue”, but will prove important to any future constitutional challenge that is based on Article 12 (the equality provision) of our constitution. Continue reading ‘Second of two 377A challenges may have to wait a long time for a decision’
The first of two cases challenging the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code was heard today in the High Court. Referred to here as Chee and Lim versus Attorney-General, the plaintiffs were Kenneth Chee Mun-leon and Lim Meng Suan. They were represented by Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi.
The court was not open to the public; it is not known who applied for the court to be closed. I only know that the plaintiffs did not.
I have not yet seen transcripts of the oral arguments, but can only rely on the written submissions. However, oral arguments tend to follow written submissions closely. The longish article below outlines the key arguments deployed. Continue reading ‘First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court’
Barely a week after Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong cited opposition in France to gay marriage as a reason not to do anything about Singapore’s anti-gay law, he was shown up for his piss-scared views by the government of President François Hollande. The French National Assembly approved a key part of Hollande’s Reform Bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The French showed that controversy is no excuse for inaction.
With that, the bottom fell out of Lee’s argument.
Continue reading ‘Lee Hsien Loong’s French bottom falls out’
In Pastor ambushes Goh Chok Tong with demand to defend 377A, I said that Goh Chok Tong gave a wooden response. Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong seems determined to outdo Goh in maladroit replies.
At a forum on Monday, 28 January 2013, he was faced with a question on section 377A of the Penal Code, asked by Braema Mathi, the president of human rights group Maruah. Today newspaper reported the question, although it did not report her name. Continue reading ‘The prime minister needs to meet real people at concerts’
Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong wasn’t given his moniker ‘kayu’ for nothing. ‘Kayu’ is Malay for ‘wood’. Despite decades in public life, he is still very wooden when it comes to public speaking.
So, when he was ambushed by Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church, making a demand to keep Section 377A of the Penal Code, all Goh could gurgle out was “You stand by your belief, and you’ll be fine.” Perhaps he meant to say you’re entitled to your beliefs, but in typical Goh clumsiness, he ended up saying something that sounded like endorsement. Continue reading ‘Pastor ambushes Goh Chok Tong with demand to defend 377A’
In the bad old days, whenever a mainstream newspaper had any report about homosexuality in Singapore, reporters would be obliged by their editors to run to the nearest self-appointed guardians of ‘morality’ for some choice quotes about how terrible the ‘affliction’ was. Some such guardians could be relied on to say that all these ‘perverts’ should go for counselling and be cured. Those bad old days weren’t so long ago. I remember a case from May 2000 and from the ‘gay civil servants’ controversy of 2003. Continue reading ‘Singapore creeps towards more acceptance of gay people’
Last Friday, 30 November 2012, a new constitutional challenge was filed in the High Court against the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code. The plaintiffs, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, partners for 15 years, say the law entrenches “stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people in society.”
The Singapore constitution’s Article 12 promises equal protection under the law. Continue reading ‘New constitutional challenge to Section 377A filed’
“Controversial — that word has been used a lot,” says Kenneth Teng of his friends’ and peers’ somewhat nervous response to news that sexuality would be the theme for this year’s Perspectives Film Festival.
“Another term used was ‘sensitive topic’,” he recalled. Clearly, it is a subject that Singaporeans are uncomfortable with.
It was especially interesting to hear of these responses from Kenneth and Sophial Foo, joint Festival Directors, because both are still students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The cohort they are referring to are people roughly their age; young people whose internet-rich environment is filled with tremendous sexual diversity, or so one might have thought. Continue reading ‘Perspectives Film Festival hopes to spark a better discussion of sexuality’
If there was any breath of fresh air in the news last week, it was the attitude of Alvin Tan Jye Yee. In a week dominated by Deputy Prime Minister Yeo Chee Hean trying drearily to spin his arm-twisting of the Catholic archbishop into a friendly chat, and the tabling of a data privacy bill before parliament that completely exempted government agencies from its scope, it was wonderful to see a young man stand up against convention.
As most readers will know by now, the law student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) had uploaded onto his blog sexually explicit photos and videos of himself and his girlfriend Vivian Lee (some however have said she is not his steady girlfriend, but this is not a material point). When he posted on an online forum a link to his blog, he became the sensation of the week. Continue reading ‘Alvin and his university, Jovan and his school’
Swiftly, the National Trades Union Congress sacked Amy Cheong. The erstwhile Assistant Director for Memberships had posted on Facebook racist remarks (see at left) about Malay weddings held at void decks.
No less than the prime minister chipped in to condemn her behaviour. Writing on Facebook, Lee Hsien Loong, currently in New Zealand avoiding reporters, said it was “an isolated case that does not reflect the strength of race relations in Singapore.”
He added: “But it sharply reminds us how easily a few thoughtless words can cause grave offence to many, and undermine our racial and religious harmony.”
This reaction follows an established course. Race and religion have always been considered highly sensitive issues in Singapore. The Sedition Act has been used against several others who have similarly made foul comments of such nature over the internet. Whether Amy Cheong will likewise be prosecuted is yet unknown. Continue reading ‘Standing up against racism is the easy test, Singapore government needs to show its true colours’