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Singapore keeps law against gay sex in ‘shocking’ judgement

The high court of Singapore has this week rejected an appeal to overturn its law against gay sex.

Three gay men – a DJ, an activist, and a retired doctor – had raised the legal case, claiming that the colonial-era law was unconstitutional.

Under current legislation, men found guilty of gay sex can be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

However, as in most jurisdictions currently or previously outlawing gay sex, sexual activity between women is not criminalised.

While the anti-gay law is rarely enforced, leaders have consistently refused to scrap it.

The presiding judge in Singapore’s high court ruled that the law was “important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs” of the city-state, BBC News has reported.

The court found that the law was constitutional because it did not violate articles about freedom of speech and equality.

A lawyer for one of the complainants said he was “disappointed” by the judgement.

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

Singapore affords relatively poor rights to LGBTIQ people, with no specific anti-discrimination protections.

Same-sex couples may not marry, adopt, or access assisted reproductive technologies to start families.

LGBTIQ media content is banned as “promotion or glamorisation of the homosexual lifestyle” by the Singapore Media Development Authority.

Public sentiment about gay people seems to be slowly improving, with the proportion of people saying they viewed homosexuality positively increasing from 23% to 25% between 2005 and 2010.

Efforts to overturn Singapore’s anti-gay legislation have been underway since at least 2007, when the Singapore Democratic Party unsuccessfully pushed to have the law repealed.

LGBTIQ activism and visibility are on the rise, with pride organisation Pink Dot SG attracting more revellers every year to its annual public celebration.

Singapore remains among dozens of countries that still criminalise gay sex and relationships.

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