February 28, 2022
In a devastating blow to Singapore’s LGBTQ+ community, the Court of Appeal has dismissed the constitutional challenge of Section 377A, choosing instead to side-step the issue and leave the law intact.
Despite the many arguments advanced by the appellants about the harmful effects of Section 377A, the judges of the Court of Appeal narrowly honed in on the uncertainty and untidiness of the government’s political promise of non-enforceability.
As such, while the ruling clarified the constitutionality of the government’s compromise, it has left the LGBTQ+ community behind yet again, without any adequate remedy or relief from the ongoing discriminatory effects of Section 377A.
Pink Dot SG is profoundly disappointed by the Court’s decision today. The acknowledgement that Section 377A is unenforceable only in the prosecutorial sense is cold comfort. Section 377A’s real impact lies in how it perpetuates discrimination across every aspect of life: at home, in schools, in the workplace, in our media, and even access to vital services like healthcare.
Pink Dot SG is also deeply troubled by how it was cited by the Court as an example of how Section 377A does not “generate a chilling effect that stifles advocacy”. Pink Dot SG and other LGBTQ+ rights advocates exist in spite of impediments like Section 377A, and we should never be used as examples to minimise their impact or justify their retention.
“Today’s ruling is frustrating for those who were hoping for some real change.” says Pink Dot SG’s spokesperson Clement Tan. “Despite acknowledging that gay men should be able to live freely in Singapore, without harassment or interference, the court still hesitated to strike it down. It now falls on Parliament to deal the final blow to Section 377A.
”Pink Dot SG urges Singapore’s leaders to act urgently and decisively to repeal this redundant law.
Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam has reiterated on multiple occasions that LGBTQ+ persons would be protected, adding that “we are not any lesser by reason of our sexual preferences”.
More recently, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong promised that the government would do its utmost to “recognise the challenges and needs of different groups”. He vowed that the government would “never let any group feel unheard, ignored or excluded.”
Allowing 377A to remain on our books is incompatible with these promises, and our nation’s purported values of justice and equality. It is time for our leaders to go beyond maintaining uneasy compromises and take affirmative steps towards equality.
Finally, Pink Dot SG thanks Mr Bryan Choong, Mr Johnson Ong and Dr Roy Tan and their legal teams for their courage in challenging this unjust law.
Pink Dot SG encourages anyone overwhelmed by today’s judgment to seek emotional support from LGBTQ-affirming mental health professionals including:
Email: [email protected]
WhatsApp Counselling: 8592 0609 (Tuesdays to Thursdays: 7-10pm, Saturdays: 2-5pm)
Samaritans of Singapore
Email: [email protected]
24-hour Hotline: 1-767