Ex-Attorney General of Singapore: Abolish anti-gay law

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The former Attorney General of Singapore, Walter Woon, has urged for the repeal of the country’s ban on homosexuality.

Speaking in a debate this week at the National University of Singapore, Mr Woon, a professor of law at the university, said the current ban represented a “constitutional problem”.

The Straits Times reports the lawyer said same-sex sexual activity was “absolutely impossible to prove” as a practical matter.

He added: “As a matter of principle, if these are consenting adults, why should it carry a jail term?”

Section 377A of the Singaporean penal code criminalises men who have sex with men (MSM), although female same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 2007.

The government has insisted that the law for MSM will not be proactively enforced, but Mr Woon said this relied on the consent of the Attorney General’s Office.

Complete repeal would safeguard against the risk of prosecutions, the lawyer argued.

“So we have a very dangerous precedent here where the political authorities are saying to the public prosecutor – who is supposed to be independent – there are some laws that you don’t enforce”.

“I find that very uncomfortable,” he added.

Tommy Koh, chairman of international law at the National University of Singapore, acknowledged the law should be scrapped, but warned abolishing it was “not so simple”.

A majority of Singaporeans were against a repeal going by opinion polls, Mr Koh said.

“The compromise is a law in the book, but Singapore will not enforce that law,” he said, adding that the government’s difficulty in balancing opposing opinions “should not be underestimated”.

The High Court of Singapore dismissed a constitutional challenge against the law last year.