Couple loses bid to get top lawyer in Section 377A appeal

Couple Kenneth Chee (left) and Gary Lim (right) file an appeal after their application to repeal Section 377A was rejected by Singapore's High Court (Screengrab from Vimeo video)

A gay couple challenging a Singapore anti-gay sex law had their application to have a Queen's Counsel argue their appeal dismissed.

Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee sought to have Lord Peter Goldsmith act as co-counsel, but Justice V K Rajah said in a written judgment on Thursday that the requirements for Goldsmith's admission to the Singapore Bar on an ad hoc basis had not been met.

In a statement, the Attorney-General's Chambers, which together with the Law Society opposed the couple's application, noted, "The case is not so complex or novel that it cannot be handled by local lawyers."

Lim and Chee are appealing the decision of Justice Quentin Loh that s 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men, does not contravene the constitution.

In wanting to get Goldsmith as co-counsel, Lim and Chee had noted that Goldsmith  “recently argued a similar case to s 377A before the Belize Court of Appeal on points of international law".

Chee, who has been with his partner for the last 15 years, earlier said that while he does not live in fear of being caught by the police for his relationship with Lim, he knows that "s 377A labels me a criminal".

The couple are currently represented by a senior counsel, Deborah Barker, and her team from Khattar Wong LLP.

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