Singapore High Court Refuses to Hear Gay-Sex Ban

One of the last vestiges of colonial rule is increasingly under protest and legal action around the world where the sun once never set on the British Empire. Anti-sodomy laws are getting hearings, sometimes in the street but often in court, in Jamaica, Belize and this week, Singapore.

So far, a judge leading a panel for Singapore's top court has decided it is not for the court to decide but the Parliament. According to Bloomberg, the Judge, Andrew Phang, asked "What's the legal criteria? The court can only listen to one voice, the legal voice."

Three men are trying to overturn the ban saying it is based on 76 year-old old laws based on the particular dislike of a minority by the majority. They say the law is unconstitutional and should not be decided "across the road" at the Parliament, as the judge suggested. The judge said it is a policy decision and not something the high court should be involved in.

A representative of the Attorney General said that social values may or may not have shifted over time but the proper place to decide the issue was in the legislative body. The Parliament declined to overturn the law in 2007.

The hearing fell near to the annual gay pride event in Singapore called Pink Dot which was first held in 2009. This year’s Pink Dot protest was said to have drawn more than 20,000.

JP Morgan Chase has been a sponsor of Pink Dot, which has led to it being criticised by the government. The Singaporean Minister for Social and Family Development said the US-based bank should "respect local culture."

Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post for the British East India Company. Singapore declared independence in 1963.


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