Singapore: Court upholds colonial-era anti-gay law

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A court in Singapore has rejected a challenge to the country’s colonial-era law criminalising gay sex.

Section 337A of the country’s penal code criminalises “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.”

The archaic law, which authorises a prison sentence of up to two years for gays, is still sporadically enforced in the country – with the last conviction in 2010.

The country’s Court of Appeal today upheld a ruling refusing to strike down the law, striking a blow to the country’s gay rights movement.

Judges Andrew Phang, Belinda Ang and Woo Bih Li wrote in their verdict: “Whilst we understand the deeply held personal feelings of the appellants, there is nothing that this court can do to assist them.”

“Only one voice – and one voice alone – is relevant. It is the voice of the law, which represents the voice of objectivity.”

The judges also indicated that a repeal would have to come from the country’s government, adding: “Their remedy lies, if at all, in the legislative sphere.”

The ruling also noted it was based solely on “legal arguments”, and not “extra-legal considerations and matters of social policy which were outside the remit of the court”.

A lesbian kiss was recently censored from an airing of Doctor Who in the country, to comply with tough broadcasting codes.