Category: India

Singapore diplomat urges gay sex ban challenge after India ruling

Fathin Ungku writes:

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A veteran Singapore diplomat has called on the gay community to challenge a law that bans gay sex in the conservative city-state, following India’s scrapping of similar British colonial-era legislation.

Tommy Koh, a diplomat and lawyer, made the comments on Facebook on Thursday in response to a post by a senior Singapore-based academic on India’s landmark ruling.

“I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A,” Koh wrote.

Under 377A, a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years, although prosecutions are rare. The law does not apply to homosexual acts between women.

Previous legal challenges in 2014 failed. Reminded of this by another Facebook user, Koh wrote: “Try again.”

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters on Friday that the majority of Singaporeans were opposed to any change to the law but that “a growing minority, want it (377A) to be repealed”.

He added that, in his personal view, care must be taken over criminalizing sexual attitudes.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has previously said that Singapore society “is not that liberal on these matters”. The prime minister’s office did not have further comment on Friday.

Koh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for LGBT rights group PinkDot said that it had been told in its last constitutional challenge that it was up to parliament, not the courts, to change the law.

“We hope that parliament will consider the decriminalization of S377A…We are ready to keep up with India.”

Children’s literature is being taken seriously: Ruskin Bond

Compared to 10 or 15 years ago, children's literature is now being taken seriously by publishers, says author Ruskin Bond. (Image: BCCL)
Compared to 10 or 15 years ago, children’s literature is now being taken seriously by publishers, says author Ruskin Bond. (Image: BCCL)
New Delhi: Keeping children riveted to a book is not an easy task and requires responsibility and sensitivity, legendary author Ruskin Bond, who at 81 has more than 150 titles to his credit, says. The popular storyteller is also gratified by the fact that children’s literature has grown impressively and is now taken seriously by publishers.

“Writing for children is more responsible and one needs to be sensitive. If they don’t find the first few pages interesting, they will keep it away,” the uncannily witty Bond, who weaves magic with his pen, told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting with five children who have been selected in the ‘Child Reading to Child’ initiative of the Landmark bookstore chain.

Reading has always been a minority hobby even during his school days, though it has improved over the years.

“I often hear that reading habits of children today are affected by the internet and gizmos. During my schooltime, before the age of TV and the internet, there were very few kids who enjoyed reading. So I don’t think it has to do anything with the internet,” said Bond, who is warming up to the release of his new book “Rusty and the Magic Mountains” next month.