S’pore gay couple to appeal recent Court decision on Section 377A

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)


[UPDATE Apr 19, 12.50pm: A fundraising campaign to raise money to fund the constitutional challenge on Section 377A has surpassed its US$50,000 target on Indiegogo, as of Friday morning. The court challenge needs US$150,000 to fund legal and court fees. Close to 500 funders have come forward to support the campaign.

Gary and Kenneth issued a joint statement Friday afternoon, expressing their thanks. They said, "The journey to a fair Singapore is long and we may not succeed, but no matter if we succeed or fail, it is important to continue fighting. Because we are loyal Singaporeans who have served our nation and we do not deserve to be treated like lesser beings who can be put into prison at the whims of the police nor do we deserve to be treated as lesser beings by those who do not understand the obstacles and pain faced by LGBT Singaporeans.”

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The couple whose bid to overturn anti-gay sex law Section 377A was rejected by the Singapore High Court last week have filed an appeal.

“We believe that gay men should not have to go to jail for being who they are, and this is why we are appealing the decision,” said partners Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, who have been together for 15 years.

“Singapore is one of the few Asian countries that criminalizes LGBT people and the existence of S 377A has a dampening effect on society. For example, LGBT businesses and societies face unfair and often insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles in getting registered,” the couple added.

The Notice of Appeal will be filed within the next 3 weeks. The Court of Appeal is the highest court in Singapore, and its decisions are final.

Mr Peter Low, lead counsel for the case, said in a media statement on Thursday, “The Judgment of the High Court upholds an archaic piece of colonial legislation which was enacted and retained with the dominant purpose of criminalising the sexual behaviour of consenting gay and bisexual adults, and continues to make criminals out of gay and bisexual men in loving relationships, even in the privacy of their own homes”.

“In so doing, the High Court is essentially saying that such targeted discrimination is perfectly acceptable… With the greatest of respect, this cannot be correct in law or logic. We have our client's instructions to appeal.”

The appeal to decriminalize gay sex in Singapore has sparked major debate in the country between the religious right and the supporters of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender) movement.

Pink Dot fully supports Kenneth and Gary in their journey to help build an inclusive Singapore. We wish them all the best in this and believe that a growing number of Singaporeans are with us in trying to build a tolerant and loving Singapore,” said a spokesperson of the non-profit movement, Paerin Choa.

Former Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia, Reverend Yap Kim Hao, said he also hopes the Christian community will be more inclusive.

“The official teaching of the Methodist Church in Singapore did not declare homosexuality a sin until 2002, and the interpretation of the bible is always personally directed, time bound, historically determined and culturally conditioned… In light of Kenneth and Gary’s decision to appeal, I hope that moving forward, the christian community will focus on love, compassion, understanding and harmony instead of hate, condemnation, contradictions and conflicts as we strive to live in unity in spite of our diversity.”

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