Singapore High Court dismisses challenge to anti-sodomy law

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The High Court of Singapore on Wednesday dismissed a constitutional challenge against a law which criminalises consensual sex between men.

A written judgement on Wednesday reiterated a ruling from April, which said that it was up to the countrys parliament to repeal Section 377A of the country’s Penal Code.

Judge Quentin Loh said in his verdict: “Parliament has the mandate under our Constitution and system of law to make decisions on and surrounding controversial issues.”

The case against the law was brought by a man who was arrested after being found with another man in a public toilet cubicle in 2010.

Judge Loh continued: “Its choice in favour of one view in the spectrum cannot be said to be undeniably wrong,” he said, continuing to note the freedom of Parliament to change laws to “reflect societal norms and values”, if it feels public opinion has shifted.

“In such circumstances, I am unprepared to say that Parliament should defer to the views of the court on this issue,” he continued.

The same judge rejected a similar challenge by a gay couple in April.

The law in question, Section 377A, dates back to British colonial rule in Singapore. Those convicted under the law can face up to two years in jail.

The law reads: “Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.”

The law is rarely enforced against men who have sex in private, it has become of increasing concern of gay rights activists looking for social reform in Singapore.

Tan Eng Hong, 49, who brought the petition on Wednesday, said he was to study the ruling before deciding whether to go to the Court of Appeal, the highest judicial body in the country.