My first – not to mentioned second and probably third – reaction to the decision earlier this month by the Singaporean judiciary to reject a challenge against Section 377a which criminalized sexual contact between two consenting men was deep disappointment; especially considering growing popular support for its repeal. Dating from British colonial times, it has not been repealed in the 50 years since Independence despite Britain doing as such with her equivalent legislation almost as long ago.
Considering Justice Quentin Loh’s summation, however, mollified me slightly:
In his 92-page judgment, Justice Quentin Loh said that Singapore’s society in the midst of change, and in a case where the change in a “particular long-held social norm” has yet to gain currency, a court is “hard put” to decide whether to retain or discard that social norm.
That decision, he said, is best left to Parliament, and he noted that Parliament had voted to retain Section 377A in 2007.
On face value, at least, it is similar to the British judiciary’s decision not to express an opinion on challenges – brought by Tony Nicklinson and now Paul Lamb – to legislation which would view assisted suicide being seen as de facto homicide, and passing the ball to Parliament.