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Singapore high court dismisses challenge to anti-gay law

The Singapore Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday again rejected a challenge [case summary, PDF] to an anti-gay law [Section 377A] criminalizing sexual conduct between men. This section outlaws any kind of sexual conduct between men, both in public and private. Those found guilty under the law can be up to two years imprisonment. Enacted in 1938, the law has not been enforced against those in private. Only recently has the law been used by those pushing for social reforms. The plaintiffs in the case challenged the law on the basis that they are not treated equally under the law as required by the Singapore Constitution [text]. The same judge overruled [text, PDF; JURIST report] a similar challenge in April, arguing that it is not for the court to decide such controversial social issues.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals still face discrimination and criminal punishment throughout the world. Last month, the first UN ministerial meeting on the rights of LGBT individuals was held [JURIST report] during the General Assembly's high level debate. That same month US Secretary of State John Kerry announced [JURIST report] that the US will begin processing same-sex visa applications the same way opposite-sex visa applications are processed. Speaking at the US embassy in London, Kerry stated, "As long as a marriage has been performed in the jurisdiction that recognizes it, then that marriage is valid under US immigration laws." In June Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill banning the promotion of "homosexual propaganda" among minors.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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