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M Ravi
Singapore Court of Appeal: "Continued existence of s377A causes gay men to be unapprehended felons"

in SINGAPORE, 27/08/2012

In a judgment that has taken nearly a year, Tan Eng Hong and his lawyer M Ravi are now one step closer to challenging the constitutionality of section 377A of the Penal Code that prohibits sexual relations between men.

Singapore’s Court of Appeal today overturned High Court judge Lai Siu Chiu’s decision on 15 March 2011 when she ruled that there was no "real controversy" which required the court’s attention – meaning that it was not a matter of importance to be decided by a court.

However at the time she agreed that Tan did have locus standi – meaning he is affected by this law to have a legitimate interest or standing in the issue.

The challenge was filed by Tan, who was first charged under section 377A for having oral sex with another consenting male in a public toilet in a shopping mall. On 24 September 2010, M Ravi, acting for Tan, filed an Originating Summons challenging the constitutionality of this law. Mid-October, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) withdrew the 377A charges, substituting charges under Section 294 (obscene act in public) instead. Tan was later fined S$3,000 for committing an obscene act in public.

In a 102-page judgment released today, the bench comprising Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang, V K Rajah and Judith Prakesh, said that as the current law extends to private consensual sexual conduct between adult males, it "affects the lives of a not insignificant portion of our community in a very real and intimate way." 

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