Two men file appeals against High Court decision to dismiss Section 377A challenge

Lawyers representing Mr Johnson Ong Ming (left) and Dr Roy Tan said they had filed appeals in the Court of Appeal. PHOTOS: CHING S. SIA, ROY TAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Two men have filed appeals against a High Court decision to dismiss their legal challenges against the law criminalising sex between men.

Lawyers representing Mr Johnson Ong Ming, a disc jockey, and Dr Roy Tan, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activist and retired doctor, told The Straits Times on Tuesday (March 31) that they had filed appeals in the Court of Appeal.

Dr Tan's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi of Carson Law Chambers, is appealing "against the whole of the decision" issued by Justice See Kee Oon on Monday, according to court documents.

The third plaintiff, Mr Bryan Choong, the former executive director of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga, is planning to file his appeal soon, his lawyers said.

The trio had filed separate cases challenging the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalises acts of "gross indecency" between men. The offence carries a jail term of up to two years.

In a 105-page written judgment, Justice See noted, among other things, that a previous decision by the Court of Appeal in 2014, involving gay couple Mr Lim Meng Suang and Mr Kenneth Chee, remains binding.

"I am unable to agree that there are cogent reasons for a Singapore court to be able to depart from binding decisions of the highest court in the land," Justice See had said in his judgment.

The judge also said he had reached the same conclusions as the Court of Appeal, even after taking into account new material put forth by the plaintiffs.

Ready4Repeal, a group behind a 2018 petition supporting the repeal of Section 377A, said in a statement on Monday that the judgment was "a bitter blow" to LGBT Singaporeans who "yearn to be treated as equals in their own country".

Lawyer Johannes Hadi, a co-author of the petition that garnered over 44,000 signatures, is a member of the legal team that represented Mr Ong.

A spokesman for Pink Dot SG, which organises the annual Pink Dot rally for LGBT rights, said on Monday that the decision "effectively upholds, entrenches and continues the discrimination of a minority group".

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