Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 31 October 2014
We are disappointed by the Singapore Supreme Court ruling on 29 October to uphold section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalizes consensual same-sex relations between men.
The Supreme Court had been asked to examine the Constitutionality of Section 377A. The Court decided that this section does not violate articles 9 and 12 of the Singapore Constitution which guarantees the right to life and liberty, and right to equality before the law and equal protection of law respectively.
The Supreme Court expressed sympathy for the situation of the appellants, but stated that it was up to the Singaporean Parliament to amend the law.
Using criminal law to prosecute individuals for engaging in consensual same sex conduct violates a host of human rights guaranteed by international law, including the right to privacy, the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention including protection for sexual orientation and gender equality.
While this law is rarely invoked in Singapore, it nonetheless codifies discrimination and contributes to societal stigma against individuals who are gay. Gay people are as entitled as anyone else to be treated with respect and dignity.
We regret the courts have missed this important opportunity to strike down this law.
We note that some political leaders in Singapore have publicly advocated for tolerance and inclusion, and we therefore hope Singapore’s legislature will now respond to the Court’s decision by repealing section 377A of the Penal Code and enacting comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that includes discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.