Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has given the green light for a lecture by an Indian lawyer at Yale-NUS College about India’s journey towards repealing its gay sex law.
In a statement on Monday (Nov 11), the Minister said that the talk by Dr Menaka Guruswamy, a lawyer, is unlikely to prejudice Singapore’s courts, despite several ongoing cases on Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code.
Dr Guruswamy was one of the lawyers who had succeeded in quashing the colonial law that forbids sexual activity against “the order of nature” in India last year, thus decriminalising homosexuality.
In a Facebook post, Minister Shanmugam wrote, “Several people have written to me, objecting to a talk to be given by Dr Menaka Guruswamy, today. The talk is organised by Yale-NUS College. She is slated to speak on what happened in the Indian courts, on s377. There is also a Petition asking the Government to stop her talk”.
“The main objection appears to be that legal challenges to s377A are about to be heard in Court, and this talk could be sub judice”, he added.
When an issue is considered sub judice, it is under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere.
Mr Shanmugam also added, “I don’t see a significant risk of sub judice. Dr Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India . One may agree or disagree with her views, but I am sure she knows about rules relating to sub judice; and I don’t see an objection to her speaking about the law, and what happened in the Indian Supreme Court, where their s377 was successfully challenged”.
A petition against Dr Guruswamy’s talk was started by an Esther Lee and has more than 10,000 signatories.
This month, the courts see three separate court cases that challenge Section 377A of the Penal Code. This section deems sexual activity as “gross indecency” between males as a criminal act, and could be punishable by a jail term of as much as two years. /TISG