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A gay couple has filed a constitutional challenge in court in an attempt to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalises gay sex.


While local activists say that over the years, the governement has become more tolerant of the LBGT community, under 377A, gay sex remains punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee therefore filed their challenge with the High Court. While there is no immediate fear of arrest, the couple went ahead with the challenge because "I know that Section 377A labels me a criminal", said Kenneth.


This latest challenge to 377A came after a man was arrested in August for having oral sex with another man in a shopping mall toilet. The charge was eventually changed to a different section of the law concerning "obscene acts in a public place" when the man applied to have 377A declared unconstitutional as it violated his rights. The man was later fined $3000.


Section 377 refers to the section of the Penal Code in several former British colonies, including Singapore, that criminalises homosexual acts. It is no surprise that countries that retain this law form the majority of countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. Section 377 was repealed in England and Wales in 1967 and subsequently in Scotland, Northern Ireland, UK Crown Dependencies, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man over the years.






 

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