Gay Singaporean couple file appeal over ban on private consensual sexAround the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, July 12th, 2013
SINGAPORE — For Gary Lim, 44, and Kenneth Chee, 37, in a relationship for 15 years, the High Court ruling in April which upheld the constitutional ban on same-sex sexual relations – known now simply as 377A – was an affront to their legal identity. The court famously wrote: “It is clear that Parliament saw a reasonable differential upon which to distinguish between two classes: anal and oral sex in private between a consenting man and a consenting woman (both aged 16 and above) was acceptable, but the same conduct was repugnant and offensive when carried out between two men even if both men were consenting parties.” The High Court went so far as to cite U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from his dissenting opinion in one of the court’s landmark gay rights decisions – Lawrence v. Texas – noting that, ““One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion.”
But now, Lim and Chee are armed with two of the brightest legal minds as they gear up for their appeal. The couple has appointed Senior Counsel Deborah Barker who is a partner and head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution, at Khattar Wong LLP, one of Singapore’s leading law firms. They have also retained Queen’s Counsel Lord Peter Goldsmith to argue the appeal as co-counsel with Barker, although his application to argue the case in Singapore is still pending.
Goldsmith, who is taking the case pro bono, has also argued on behalf of three plaintiffs in the Central American country of Belize. The couple mentioned in their official public statement: “We are glad that Ms Barker and Lord Goldsmith have agreed to represent us in this case … Lord Goldsmith has a formidable reputation in cases involving constitutional and fundamental rights, and has recently argued a similar case to s 377A before the Belize Court of Appeal on points of international law.”
The couple have also raised more than $100,000 for their legal defense on the popular crowdfunding Web site Indiegogo.com. No date has been set for their appeal.
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