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Arguments for the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code


19 November 2019

Our Eugene Thuraisingam, Suang Wijaya and Johannes Hadi, Mr Johnson Ong’s lawyers, made their arguments in court yesterday. Mr Ong is applying to review the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code.

In the arguments, the issue as to whether Section 377A of the Penal Code (which criminalises consensual private sexual conduct between men) violates Article 9(1) and/or Article 12(1) of the Constitution, was raised.

The legal team presented expert evidence from Dr Jacob Rajesh, a senior consultant psychiatrist at the Promises Clinic, British psychiatrist Dinesh Bhugra, a professor of mental health and diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and American public health and epidemiology professor Chris Beyrer of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In a statement issued by the legal team to the media:

“It is absurd, irrational and discriminatory to criminalise a person on the basis of his natural, unchangeable identity and for non-harmful private acts…

For the first time, there is expert evidence before the courts on the nature of sexual orientation. In the previous cases, the court was only asked to take judicial notice of scientific facts which required a different legal test.”

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