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Lim Yi Han
Sunday, Nov 2, 2014

Singapore

A missed chance to show S'pore as inclusive: LGBT groups

The Straits Times | Lim Yi Han | Sunday, Nov 2, 2014

Participants of the annual Pink Dot Sg event at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014.

Several LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) groups yesterday hit out at the decision by the Court of Appeal to uphold the law which criminalises sex between men.

In a joint statement, 14 groups, including LGBT counselling service Oogachaga and gay rights movement Pink Dot SG, said a chance "to showcase Singapore as a truly accepting, open and inclusive society... has been missed".

On Wednesday, the three-judge Court of Appeal ruled that Section 377A did not violate the Constitution. The judgment added: "(The appellants') remedy lies, if at all, in the legislative sphere."

The case came after a gay couple, and a man charged with having oral sex with another man in a public toilet, applied to the courts to void S377A, arguing it was discriminatory.

The LBGT groups in their statement yesterday added: "(S377A) gives carte blanche for discrimination and reinforces prejudice, leading to censorship in the media and the aggravation of negative stereotypes..."

US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch also said on its website on Wednesday that the ruling is a "major setback for equal rights in Singapore".

MP Baey Yam Keng, who supported the repeal of 377A in Parliament in 2007, told The Straits Times yesterday that the issue was one which "the Government has to make a call when society is ready".

"I can understand where the LGBT community is coming from, but challenging the court is usually not the constructive way to get things done," he said.

"It's better to have more meaningful dialogues within society, so more people are aware of the issue and able to make a call on whether Singapore should move on it."

limyihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on October 31, 2014.
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