Now Reading
Singapore gay rights defender ready to do battle again

Singapore gay rights defender ready to do battle again

In 2010, Singaporean Tan Eng Hong was charged with performing oral sex on another man in a shopping center toilet, an act of “gross decency”, according to the city state’s law, and fined after he pleaded guilty.

The trauma made Tan challenge the colonial Section 377A that outlaws sex between men, becoming the first Singaporean to do so.

Tan claimed Section 377A was a discriminatory law applied in an arbitrary manner. It resulted in the Court of Appeal ruling that all gay men may have a right to be heard before court on whether the section infringes on their constitutional protections to such a degree that it may be struck down.

Last year, a new innings was added to Tan’s campaign with a gay couple, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, filing a suit seeking the repeal of the controversial section.

The hearing has been scheduled in December.

Now Tan is ready to enter the arena where he had been three years ago, this time as an “interested party” in the Lim-Chee suit. His ground: The decision the court takes on the gay couple’s suit is likely to affect his own case.

“Mr Tan is asking the court to consider the constitutional guarantees providing for a fair trial, ensuring the right to due process and equal treatment before the law when deliberating on his application to the court,” his lawyer M Ravi said in a press statement.

“He seeks to intervene in Lim and Chee’s appeal as the outcome of this appeal will affect his case in which judgment is still pending.”

Tan is yet to have the High Court give its verdict in his case though it has been there for almost three years.

It has been a severe ordeal for the publicity-shy masseuse who initially lacked family support with close relatives telling him not to go to court.

The place where he stays was spray-painted and the long trial impacted his job, making him go bankrupt.

Singapore has had other cases similar to Tan’s ordeal. In at least one case, the two men caught in a similar situation received two weeks in jail as they did not have legal representation.