Singapore gay sex ban: Court rejects appeals to overturn law

A bid to overturn a law that criminalises gay sex in Singapore has been dismissed by a court, dealing a blow to the city state’s LGBT movement.


BBC News (30.03.2020) – – The high court rejected appeals by three gay men who had argued the colonial-era law was unconstitutional.


The presiding judge said the law was “important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” in Singapore.


Under Section 377A, men found guilty of homosexual acts in public or private can be jailed for up to two years.


Speaking outside court, a lawyer for one of the complainants, M Ravi, said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling.


“It’s shocking to the conscience and it is so arbitrary,” he said.


The legal challenges were the latest attempts to repeal Section 377A, after an effort by a gay couple in 2014 was rejected by the Court of Appeal.


But the LGBT rights movement in Singapore regained momentum after India’s decision to scrap similar legislation in 2018 renewed hopes for reform.


Singapore’s authorities rarely enforce Section 377A, first introduced in 1938 by British colonial rulers.


But Singapore’s leaders, including its current prime minister, have refused to remove it, saying it reflects the conservative mores of the city state’s society.


In Monday’s judgement, the court echoed that sentiment, saying non-enforcement of the law against consensual gay sex in private did not render it redundant.


The court concluded the law was constitutional because it did not violate articles regarding equality and freedom of speech.


The latest attempt to overturn the law was spearheaded by three people: a retired doctor, a DJ and an LGBT rights advocate.


One of the men told Reuters news agency he was disappointed by the ruling, adding “my eyes are firmly on the road ahead”.


Currently 70 countries criminalise same-sex relations.

ASIA: Gender equality and women leaders benefit companies and society: President Halimah

By Choo Yun Ting

The Straits Times (18.09.2019) – – Companies and society will benefit from increasing participation by women in the economy and leadership positions, said President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (18.09.2019).


Madam Halimah told the Women’s Forum Asia: “Our society has been built on principles of meritocracy and equal opportunity for all.


“To this extent, organisations in Singapore must continue to embrace diversity in leadership positions, which has been shown to lead to positive impact on business profitability, a more robust corporate governance, as well as fresh and innovative perspectives.”


Madam Halimah noted that female representation on the boards of the top 100 primary-listed companies here has doubled in four years.


She also noted the potential for greater women’s participation in entrepreneurship and science and technology, adding that the common misconception that women do not do well in these fields needs to be addressed.


Madam Halimah cited a study conducted with more than 1,000 Asian firms by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.


It found that companies where at least 30 per cent of the directors were females fared better than firms with all-male boards.


This presents a strong business case for increasing women’s participation in both workplaces and on boards, Madam Halimah said.


Bursa Malaysia chairman Shireen Muhiudeen said during the opening discussion that new technology means more women could participate in the workforce, especially as it enables them to work from home.


“If you can do something via technology, why not… this would be one of the ways to keep women working and empowered, and part of the ecosystem,” she said.


Speakers at the forum, which is focusing on the importance of female leadership in a changing world, include Ms Agnes Pannier-Runacher, French State Secretary for Economy and Finance, Schneider Electric chairman and chief executive Jean-Pascal Tricoire and former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.


Around 120 speakers and 1,500 people are expected at the three-day forum, which ends on Friday (20.09.2019).