Gay man begins legal challenge against Singapore’s anti-gay laws

singapore gay man activist dr roy tan legal challenge lawsuit section 377A
Photo: Roy Tan/Facebook

A prominent LGBTIQ activist has filed a new legal challenge against Singapore’s law criminalising gay sex.

Dr Roy Tan (pictured above) was the main organiser of Singapore’s first Pink Dot event in 2009. The now-annual festival celebrates the LGBTIQ community.

Dr Tan is heading to Singapore’s High Court to argue the law banning gay sex, Section 377A, is unconstitutional.

The retired doctor and LGBTIQ activist said, “This anachronistic law adversely affects the lives of gay men.

“By institutionalising discrimination, it alienates them from having a sense of belonging and purposeful place in our society.

“[It] prevents them from taking pride in Singapore’s achievements.”

Dr Roy Tan argues gay sex ban is unconstitutional

Consensual homosexual activity is still illegal under Singapore’s colonial-era Penal Code. Although rarely enforced, advocates say the law still impacts LGBTIQ people in Singapore.

Dr Roy Tan is arguing that Section 377A is inconsistent with Article 9 of the Constitution. That provision states no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty.

He also believes Section 377A is inconsistent with Article 12, which states all people are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection.

However, the country’s Supreme Court upheld the ban on consensual same-sex activity in 2014. Dr Roy Tan’s new case will challenge that ruling.

A year ago this month, India’s Supreme Court struck down a very similar law to Singapore’s banning gay sex in India.

Given India’s population of 1.3 billion people, LGBTIQ advocates hailed that ruling as the biggest decriminalisation verdict in history.

In May, Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in a historic first for Asia.

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