Singapore's gay community urged to fight sexual prohibition after India rules

<pre><pre>Singapore's gay community urged to fight sexual prohibition after India rules

A senior Singaporean diplomat on Friday urged the country's gay community to challenge a law banning gay sex after India's highest court delayed similar legislation, a rare high-level intervention on the issue.

Tommy Koh, ambassador in general at the Foreign Ministry of Singapore, made the comments on Facebook in response to a post on Thursday's historic ruling, which followed a decades-long campaign against the law in the South Asian nation.

Tommy Koh has urged the gay community in Singapore to challenge the country's sexual prohibition.

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"I would encourage our homosexual community to file a class action lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A," Koh said, referring to the law that criminalizes sexual relations between men.

Responding to a comment that previous petitions to nullify the law were unsuccessful, the former US ambassador to Singapore and sent to the United Nations said: "Try again."

While Singapore has a modern and vibrant culture, attitudes toward homosexuality remain conservative. Sex between men remains technically illegal under a law dating from the British colonial government, although the statute rarely applies.

Despite the challenges, support for homosexual rights has been growing in recent years in the city-state of 5.6 million. Huge crowds attended the tenth anniversary of the annual Pink Dot gay rights demonstration in July.

Pink Dot, the leading gay rights group in Singapore, said the Indian decision showed that attitudes toward homosexuals were "changing positively in Asia" and called on parliament to decriminalize sex between homosexuals.

In 2014, the highest court in Singapore dismissed a constitutional challenge to the law and said it was up to the parliament to repeal it.

Singapore's Minister of Law and Home Affairs, K. Shanmugam, said the government was caught among the majority of Singaporeans who oppose the repeal of the law and a "growing minority" that wants it eliminated.

"I really believe that society has to decide which direction it wants to go," he added. "The laws will have to keep pace with the changes in society."

India celebrates after a landmark court ruling overturns the ban on sex among homosexuals.