Singapore court rules against gay man claiming workplace discrimination


Old_Supreme_Court_Building_5,_Jan_06Singapore: Singapore’s highest court has not only dismissed a lawsuit by a gay man fighting workplace discrimination at a multinational departmental store but ruled that he pay for legal costs.

Lawrence Bernard Wee, 40, who was suing former employer Robinsons on the basis that that workplace discrimination against gays was unconstitutional reports m.todayonline.com.

The highest court of the land upheld a High Court ruling on the case last December and dismissed Wee’s case ruling that his claim was without basis. Wee was also ordered to pay 20,000 Singapore dollars (US$15,946) in legal costs.

The suit was filed after Wee, former manager at Robinsons department store quit his job in August 2012. Wee had sued  Robinsons for “constructive dismissal” arising from alleged anti-gay discrimination as his as his former boss had harassed him into leaving the job because he was gay.

Constructive dismissal occurs when an employer makes life so difficult and hostile that an employee is forced to resign.

Wee filed for damages against his employer four months after his resignation.

Robinsons denied any bias, unfair treatment or persecution by anyone at the store, or that Wee faced difficulties or threats when he wanted to leave the company.

Wee sought a declaration from the court last August that Article 12 of Singapore’s Constitution that provides for the equal protection of the law, prohibits workplace discrimination of homosexual men.

A High Court assistant registrar struck out the case after finding that it was without merit but  Wee filed an appeal against this decision, but withdrew it last month.

Attorney-General’s Chambers then applied to have this struck out on the basis that it was not sustainable in law, was frivolous and vexatious or was otherwise an abuse of the Court process.

Singapore courts are notorious in throwing out anti-gay discrimination lawsuits always citing the Section 377A law in Singapore’s penal code. The British colonial era law criminalizes same-sex relations and carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

Gay rights activists have been advocating to get the law repealed but with little success  even though the issue of repealing or retaining it has also been brought up in Parliament in recent years.

The government maintains it doesn’t discriminate against LGBT residents  though it has declined to repeal the law banning sex between men.

Source: m.todayonline.com

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