Johnson Ong, aka DJ Big Kid, is challenging Section 377A of Singaporean criminal code, which refers to homosexual acts between men as “gross indecency”. Currently, the crime is punishable by a two-year jail sentence in the country.
The DJ was inspired to take action after India historically lifted their ban on gay sex last week.
Ong is set to be the first to challenge the anti-gay law since 2014 when a case was thrown out by the Supreme Court. The court decided that it was up to Singapore’s parliament to determine whether or not the law be repealed.
The legislation, which was inherited from British colonialism, is rarely enforced by authorities in Singapore. Although leaders have said they will not enforce it, they are hesitant to remove it from the criminal code for fear of angering conservatives.
Speaking about the ban’s effect on his relationship with his family, Ong said in an interview: “Though they love me and treat my partner with respect, they do not accept my homosexuality, so our relationship is constantly strained, and I am not able to completely share my life, struggles or successes with them.”
Ong continued, “I am considered a criminal in the eyes of the law and that is an emotional and psychological burden that I carry around as I go through life that no heterosexual Singaporean has to.”
Johnson Ong is also a former ambassador for the Singaporean gay rights group Pink Dot and plans to bring evidence to the Supreme Court that shows that Section 377A contradicts Singapore’s constitutional promise of personal liberty to its citizens.
Ong and his lawyers are also expected to present a 2015 US study which concludes that sexual orientation “is unchangeable or suppressible at an unacceptable personal cost”.
Ong’s lawyers also said, “criminalising the manifestation of sexual orientation – that is, consensual intimate activity – must be in violation of human dignity.”
Singapore’s Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K. Shanmugam, claims that most Singaporeans want to keep Section 377A, while a “growing minority” want it to be repealed. He added that “the government is in the middle.”
Meanwhile, an online petition to keep the ban has over 95,000 signatures, while an online petition to repeal the law gained approximately one-third of that number.
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