SINGAPORE - The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community here are "greatly shocked and disappointed" by the Court of Appeal's decision yesterday to reject the challenges to strike down Section 377A of the Penal Code
Section 377A criminalises acts of "gross indecency" between men, without distinctions on whether it is in a public or private space, and imposes a maximum jail term of two years.
The appeals court rejected the argument of gay couple Gary Lim, 46 and Kenneth Chee, 38, as well as 51-year-old Tan Eng Hong that the provision infringes their rights to equality under Article 12 of the Constitution and violates their rights to life and personal liberty under Article 9.
In a statement released today, the LGBT community said that despite claims by the authorities that the law would not be enforced, its existence had a wide-ranging effect not only on Singapore's gay men, but also its lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, adding that it also gives carte-blanche for discrimination and reinforces prejudice.
The statement read: "It is not an imposition for a segment to seek the same rights as the rest of society. To be viewed as equal in the eyes of the law, to feel safe at home, and to be protected against discrimination, mistreatment, even physical and emotional harm, is a right to which every Singaporean should be entitled, and not denied on the basis of whom they love."
The statement was jointly issued by a number of community groups, including LGBT counselling service Oogachaga, LGBT welfare network SAFE, gay rights movement Pink Dot and women's gay rights group Sayoni.
The groups further added that the verdict represented a missed opportunity "to showcase Singapore as a truly accepting, open and inclusive society".