Court of Appeal allows anti-gay law challenges to be heard

Jeanette Tan
Human rights lawyer M Ravi has successfully applied for both constitutional challenges against Section 377A to be heard together in the Court of Appeal. (Getty Images file photo)

[Update on 11 Oct, 10:45am -- correcting date of court hearing for Lim & Chee's case to February this year from March]

The highest court in Singapore on Thursday allowed two challenges to the country's controversial anti-gay law to be heard, lawyers representing the individuals involved said.
 
In a statement sent to the media, human rights lawyer M Ravi said he successfully applied for his client Tan Eng Hong's case to be heard by the Court of Appeal alongside a parallel appeal on the same challenge filed by couple Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee.
 
Tan, now 50, was in 2010 caught engaging in fellatio with another man at a shopping centre and charged under Section 377A, a law that criminalises same-sex intercourse between men.
 
Acting on his behalf, Ravi filed a constitutional challenge to the law, the outcome of which dragged until this month when High Court judge Quentin Loh dismissed Tan's case.
 
Tan's verdict came about half a year after Lim's and Chee's case, which was heard in February and dismissed in April.
 
According to Ravi, Court of Appeal judge Justice V K Rajah noted that it was unfortunate that the judgement in Tan's case was delayed, given the fact that he was the first Singapore citizen to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A three years ago.
 
The three-judge panel also said Lim's and Chee's case could in fact be dismissed on grounds of no-standing, given that they had not been charged or prosecuted under the law, whereas Tan had been, Ravi said.

“This gives greater hope for the s377A challenge to succeed because Tan was given standing by the Court of Appeal in 2012 when he won the previous appeal," said Ravi in the statement on Thursday. "This further reinforces Mr Tan’s critical role in the challenge to overturn this anachronistic legislation which is a sad remnant of colonial law.”

When contacted by Yahoo Singapore, Ravi said no date has been set for the Court of Appeal’s hearing of the case but that it it likely to be scheduled early next year.