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DJ has to file evidence challenging Section 377A by Nov 20

SINGAPORE — While trial dates for the constitutional challenge mounted by a disc jockey against the law which criminalises sex between two men have not been fixed, the High Court has set out a deadline for when he needs to file his evidence.

DJ has to file evidence challenging Section 377A by Nov 20

Mr Johnson Ong, who also goes by his stage name DJ Big Kid, will have to file all his evidence — including medical expert evidence — by Nov 20, said his lawyers on Tuesday (Sept 25).

SINGAPORE — While trial dates for the constitutional challenge mounted by a disc jockey against the law which criminalises sex between two men have not been fixed, the High Court has set out a deadline for when he needs to file his evidence.

Mr Johnson Ong, who also goes by his stage name DJ Big Kid, will have to file all his evidence — including medical expert evidence — by Nov 20, said his lawyers on Tuesday (Sept 25), after the first pre-trial conference.

The case is set for a subsequent pre-trial conference on Dec 3.

TODAY understands Mr Ong's constitutional challenge against Section 377A of the Penal Code could be heard around the end of the first quarter of next year.

Asked about the public response he’s received thus far, Mr Ong told TODAY the support he has received has been “nothing short of overwhelming”, and he has “nothing but gratitude”.

“I have received many encouraging and affirming messages through my social channels and texts from friends and strangers alike, which is deeply moving on a personal level… It is with such support and love that will spur me on to see this challenge right to the end,” he said.

His case has also made him realise that “this issue is bigger than any one person or any one campaign”, and Mr Ong said: “It is a Singaporean issue and is heartening to know that many Singaporeans (have ‘woken’ up) to the larger issue of equality and justice and fairness.”

“I look forward to all the evidence that my lawyers will be submitting ahead of the next (pre-trial conference)… and we'll take it from there,” he added.

BACKGROUND TO LATEST CHALLENGE

The 43-year-old DJ mounted the latest challenge on Sept 10, some four years after the previous challenge was struck down by the highest court of the land.

In the court documents seen by TODAY, the Attorney-General is listed as the defendant in the case.

Speaking to TODAY after he filed his papers earlier this month, Mr Ong said he was encouraged by news of India's Supreme Court striking down section 377 of its Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex.

He also said he decided to "take up" the challenge by veteran diplomat and international lawyer Tommy Koh of getting the gay community in Singapore to mount another constitutional challenge.

On Sept 6, Prof Koh commented on a Facebook post by National University of Singapore law dean Simon Chesterman, who shared The New York Times' report on the news in India. Prof Koh wrote: "I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A."

Reminded by another Facebook user that a previous challenge four years ago was struck down by the highest court of the land, he said: "Try again." Last week, Prof Koh announced on Facebook that he had signed a petition calling for a repeal of the law.

MR ONG'S CHALLENGE

For this challenge, Mr Ong's lawyers — Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and Mr Suang Wijaya — will highlight the concept of human dignity, which was not argued in a previous challenge filed four years ago.

They will argue that Section 377A "violates human dignity", and that sexual orientation "is unchangeable or suppressible at unacceptable personal cost".

They will adduce expert evidence, which was also not led in the 2014 case that was struck down. They include proof that same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behaviour, and attraction), and variations in gender identity and gender expression are "a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder".

If established that sexual orientation is unchangeable or suppressible, they will argue that the criminalising of consensual sex is a violation of human dignity and breaches Article 9(1) of the Constitution, which states "no one shall be deprived of life and personal liberty save in accordance with law".

The lawyers will also argue that there have been many changes and legal developments around the world since the October 2014 challenge was struck down.

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