The Singapore High Court on Monday dismissed three cases that challenged the city-state’s colonial-era law that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations.
OutRight Action International in a press release notes Justice See Kee Oon ruled against three men — Johnson Ong Ming, Roy Tan Seng Kee and Bryan Choong — who challenged Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code that dates back to when the country was a British colony.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations under Section 377A are punishable by up to two years in prison, although it is rarely applied.
“It is incredibly disappointing to see the High Court of Singapore uphold this colonial-era law,” said OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement. “Even while lying dormant, such laws send a strong message — that gay and bisexual men are not only second-class citizens, but also criminals, purely for who they love. Today that message was amplified, legitimizing societal hate, discrimination, and exclusion of LGBTIQ people in Singapore.”
Jean Chong, co-founder of Savoni, an organization for queer women in Singapore, told the Washington Blade the ruling left them “deeply disappointed.”
Singapore, which is in Southeast Asia, is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
The India Supreme Court in 2018 issued a landmark ruling that repealed the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. Botswana’s High Court last year decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations, but the African country’s government later appealed the ruling.
Remy Choo, a lawyer who represented Choong in the Singapore case, in the OutRight Action International press release said “victory isn’t ours today, but I’m confident that one day it will be.”