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Singapore couple goes to court to abolish anti-gay sex law

Singapore's High Court held its first hearing of Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee's case that seeks to repeal the country's anti-sodomy law 

Singapore couple goes to court to abolish anti-gay sex law

A gay couple in Singapore seeking to abolish a long-standing law banning gay sex had their case heard in court today.

The court case was heard just days after a former department store manager sued his boss for alleged discrimination against gays.

The two cases highlight how members of Singapore’s LGBT community have become increasingly vocal, demanding changes in the city-state’s attitudes toward homosexuality by speaking out against discrimination and raising legal cases to challenge the law.

Associated Press reported that Singapore’s High Court held its first full hearing Thursday in a case brought by Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee.

Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi, the lawyers representing Lim and Chee, said the couple who launched the case late last year, hopes to have the law banning gay sex declared unconstitutional.

Section 377A, a British colonial-era law, criminalizes sex between mutually consenting adult men, and offenders can be jailed for up to two years.

On Monday, Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, a former manager at Robinsons department store, filed a lawsuit claiming his former boss had harassed him into leaving his job because he did not approve of him being gay.

Robinsons denied any ‘biasness’, ”unfair treatment’ or ‘persecution’ by anyone at the store, or that Wee faced ‘difficulties’ or ‘threats’ when he wanted to leave the company.
LGBT rights are frowned upon in conservative Singapore.

Last month, the city-state’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said the anti-gay law will not be repealed: ‘Why is that law on the books? Because it’s always been there and I think we just leave it’. ‘

‘These are not issues that we can settle one way or the other, and it’s really best for us just to leave them be, and just agree to disagree. I think that’s the way Singapore will be for a long time’.

Recently, heated rhetoric from church groups in favor of retaining the law was silenced by the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) who said the arguments were in danger of compromising the court case.

‘If comments made by pastors – and the consequent rebuttal from gay rights advocates – were enough to warrant a warning from the AGC, what more a prime minister declaring that we should leave Section 377A alone?’ said Kristen Han, journalist, blogger and social justice activist in a column about Lee’s comments.  


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