Court blocks deportation of Singapore trans woman who faces military conscription ‘as a man’

A court has blocked the Home Office’s bid to deport a Singapore trans woman – who faces being drafted for compulsory military service as a man in her home country.

In Singapore, all men are expected to take part in compulsory military service, while women are exempt.

33-year-old Singapore national EFH – who cannot be named for legal reasons – came to the UK as a student in 2004 and has lived as female for a decade.

She is recognised as female by the UK government but is legally considered a man in Singapore, and faces being drafted for male-only service if returned home.

EFH is worried she would be forced to serve in a male unit if drafted – undertaking an annual period of service every year until 2023.

If she refuses to do military service, EFH would be left facing 15 months in prison and a hefty fine.

Today, the Upper Tribunal dismissed an appeal from the Home Office, after an earlier ruling granted the woman leave to remain in the UK.

EFH’s counsel S Chelvan of No5 Chambers had argued that returning the woman to Singapore “would be returning a woman to her home country to be punished as a man”.

Lawyers representing Home Secretary Theresa May contended that she would not face discrimination in Singapore, and that any punishment for avoiding military service would not be due to her transgender status.

However, Judge Harris upheld a ruling in favour of EFH.

A statement from West12 Solicitors said: “We are pleased that the plight of this transgender woman has been resolved successfully before the Immigration and Asylum Upper Tribunal on the basis of her gender identity.

“For her, it means she can now enjoy living a full life without any compromise to her gender identity and to her personal integrity. This is a basic right that is denied to her in Singapore.

“We hope this important judgment will encourage countries such as Singapore and Malaysia to review their laws which are discriminatory against transgender people.

“This judgment will no doubt be welcomed by the transgender community and it should be also welcomed by the wider community.”

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