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Singapore couple sue to end sodomy law

Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee are suing to end Singapore’s 377A sodomy law which brands them as criminals despite the government saying the law is not to be enforced proactively
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

A Singaporean gay couple will challenge the country’s rarely enforced sodomy law which they say labels them as criminals.

Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, who have been partners for 15 years, filed their challenge with the Singapore’s High Court after a Court of Appeal judgement on the Tan EL case opened up the opportunity for any gay person in Singapore to launch a constitutional challenge against s 377A.

The man, Tang Eng Hong, had challenged the constitutionality of Singapore’s 377A sodomy law and the couple hope to make use of that landmark ruling.

‘I don’t live in fear every day that I will get caught by the police because of my relationship with Gary but I know that s 377A labels me a criminal,’ Chee said in a statement.

‘While lawmakers have stated in Parliament that 377A will not be “pro-actively” enforced, this is not enough because it leaves the possibility of “passive enforcement,” should someone decided to make a complaint against us one day,’ Lim added.

The couple’s lawyers will argue that 377A presents a barrier to LGBT victims of crime in going to police and exposes them to discriminatory policies and practices .

They say the law also makes it difficult for governmental and non-governmental organizations to create programs aimed at ensuring the physical and psychological wellbeing of LGBT Singaporeans and legitimizes and perpetuates stigma against LGBT people.

Singaporean lawmakers have failed to scrap the law despite even the country’s influential first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, saying it should go.

Yew lead the country from 1959 until 1988 and remained as a mentor figure within the cabinet until May last year. His son, Lee Hsien Loong (pictured) is the current prime minister of Singapore.

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