Gay man's case struck out

An application by a former Robinsons employee to have discrimination against gay men declared unconstitutional has been struck out by the High Court.

Mr Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, 40, was also ordered to pay the costs for the case.

A former assistant general manager for cards and corporate sales at Robinsons, Mr Wee had claimed that he was harassed into resigning in August last year because he was a homosexual.

So, he first sued the retailer in December last year.

After he lost the case, he decided to launch an appeal.

He also filed an affidavit in August this year asking the court to declare that Article 12 of the Constitution applies to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

Article 12 states that "all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law".

Following queries from The Straits Times, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) released a statement on Tuesday explaining why it had applied to strike out the case.

It said the attorney-general (AG) argued that Mr Wee had failed to show a case that the Government had violated his Article12 rights - a point which the High Court agreed with when coming to its decision to strike out the case on Monday.

"Mr Wee had therefore failed to show that he even had standing to seek the declaration," said the AGC statement, adding that his claim was rejected on the basis that "it is not sustainable in law, is frivolous and vexatious or is otherwise an abuse of the court process". In its application to the High Court, the AGC argued that Mr Wee's "real grievance of alleged discrimination is against his former employer, and not the Government".

The AG also labelled Mr Wee's bid an abuse of process because "it was taken to gain a collateral advantage" in his suit against his former employer, which is currently on appeal.

It added that Tripartite Guidelines discouraging discrimination in the workplace are already in place for employers.

Mr Wee's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, had argued, however, that such a declaration was necessary here.

This was because the guidelines, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, to which Singapore is a signatory, are "non-binding and provide no legal remedy for homosexual men or women who have been discriminated against in the workplace".

He also highlighted that the Government has so far made no statement on whether there is a ban on discrimination against homosexual men because of their sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, comments made by sociopolitical blogger Alex Au Wai Pang last month on Mr Wee's cases, among others, have seen him accused of contempt of court.

The AGC is currently trying to seek permission from the High Court to launch a contempt case against the blogger.

melodyz@sph.com.sg

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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