The Limits of Liberty: The Crime of Male Same-Sex Conduct and the Rights to Life and Personal Liberty in Singapore: Lim Meng Suang v Attorney-General [2015] 1 SLR 26

Hong Kong Law Journal, vol. 46 (1), pp 49-70, May 2016

Singapore Management University School of Law Research Paper No. 11/2016

21 Pages Posted: 26 May 2016 Last revised: 17 Jun 2016

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee

Singapore Academy of Law

Date Written: May 15, 2016

Abstract

In Lim Meng Suang v Attorney-General (2014), the Singapore Court of Appeal held that s 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises acts of “gross indecency” between men whether occurring in public or private, does not infringe either the rights to equality and equal protection guaranteed by Art 12(1), or the rights to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Art 9(1) of the Constitution. This article examines the analyses of the latter provision by the Court of Appeal in Lim Meng Suang, and by the High Court in Tan Eng Hong v Attorney-General (2013) which was one of the two cases brought before the Court of Appeal. It is submitted the courts interpreted Art 9(1) narrowly due to the belief that it is not their role to subject government policies to rigorous constitutional scrutiny for compliance with fundamental liberties, particularly where such policies are seen as dealing with socially controversial issues. However, the time is ripe for the Court to discover afresh its role as a co-equal branch of the government.

Keywords: criminalization of same-sex conduct, constitutional law, right to life, right to liberty, section 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore), Singapore

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K42

Suggested Citation

Lee, Jack Tsen-Ta, The Limits of Liberty: The Crime of Male Same-Sex Conduct and the Rights to Life and Personal Liberty in Singapore: Lim Meng Suang v Attorney-General [2015] 1 SLR 26 (May 15, 2016). Hong Kong Law Journal, vol. 46 (1), pp 49-70, May 2016; Singapore Management University School of Law Research Paper No. 11/2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2784274

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee (Contact Author)

Singapore Academy of Law ( email )

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Singapore, 178879
Singapore
+65.6332.4070 (Phone)

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