Gay-sex law case: Man drops bid to intervene

Gay-sex law case: Man drops bid to intervene

SINGAPORE - A man waiting for the court to rule on his challenge to the law criminalising gay sex, has changed his mind about joining a similar case.

On Thursday, Mr Tan Eng Hong dropped his bid to become an intervening party to a Court of Appeal case involving a homosexual couple fighting the same law.

Lawyer M. Ravi, who is acting for Mr Tan, gave two reasons for the withdrawal.

First, he had been assured by High Court Justice Quentin Loh's secretary that the delivery of judgment in Mr Tan's case is being expedited.

Also, gay couple Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, both graphic designers, had objected to Mr Tan's attempt to be added as an intervening party as his case was still pending.

The men in both cases are contending that Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men, is unconstitutional.

Mr Tan, 49, was the first to fight the law here when he filed a constitutional challenge in 2010. This came after the massage therapist was charged under Section 377A for having oral sex with another man in a public toilet.

The Attorney-General tried to strike out his challenge, but in August last year, the Court of Appeal let him have his day in court.

Three months later, Mr Lim, 44, and Mr Chee, 37, filed their own challenge.

The couple's case was heard in February and Justice Loh reserved judgment. A month later, he also reserved judgment after hearing Mr Tan's case.

In April, the judge dismissed the couple's challenge, ruling that Section 377A did not violate the Constitution.

Mr Lim and Mr Chee appealed, and applied for Queen's Counsel Peter Goldsmith, a former attorney-general in Britain who was involved in a fight against a similar law in Belize, Central America, to argue their case.

Last month, Mr Tan made a bid to join the couple's hearing, saying the outcome of the appeal will affect his own case.

Meanwhile, a decision on whether Lord Goldsmith will be allowed to present the couple's case is expected next week.

selinal@sph.com.sg


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