Two launch fresh challenge to anti-gay law

SINGAPORE - Two men have launched a challenge against Section 377A of the Penal Code, which outlaws homosexual acts, in the second such legal action seen in recent years.

Graphic designers Gary Lim, 44, and Kenneth Chee, 37, filed their challenge yesterday, following a recent judgment on an earlier case which said the constitutionality of Section 377A is of public interest.

In August, Judge of Appeal V. K. Rajah ruled that Mr Tan Eng Hong should be allowed to pursue a claim that the section is unconstitutional. Mr Tan, 49, had started his challenge in 2010, following his arrest for engaging in oral sex in a public toilet.

Even though the case is ongoing, Mr Lim said he and his partner wanted to make a contribution towards the cause.

They have been a couple together for 15 years and in the past few years, have been doing activist work in the gay community, like collecting signatures for the petition against Section 377A in 2007.

Mr Lim also founded The Bear Project, a social group for heavy-set gay men.

"We have been more in the background and quite low-profile. Both of us felt it was the right time to do something bigger for the community," said Mr Lim.

"The law may be passive. But as long as it's around, we are basically labelled as criminals, and we do not want that," he added

Their lawyers are Mr Peter Low and Mr Choo Zheng Xi of Peter Low LLC and Ms Indulekshmi Rajeswari of Myintsoe and Selvaraj.

The Government's position is that Section 377A does not contravene the Constitution. It also does not proactively enforce this law.

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