Singapore court fines blogger for comments on gay sex cases

SINGAPORE (AP) — A Singapore court fined a prominent dissident blogger on Wednesday for questioning the timing of two constitutional challenges to the city-state’s ban on gay sex.

Alex Au, who writes for the Yawning Bread site, was ordered to pay 8,000 Singapore dollars (US$5,845) for claiming that the high court engaged in “strange calendaring” in scheduling the two cases. The blogger alleged that Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon wanted to hear both challenges as part of the apex court but could not earlier, when he was Singapore’s attorney general, the state’s legal representative in the two cases.

Both challenges were heard, and rejected, by Singapore’s apex court, the Court of Appeal, in October. One case had been filed by a gay couple and the other by a man convicted of having sex with another man in a public restroom.

Local media reported that Au planned to appeal the judgment but apologized and said he will pay the fine first.

The 62-year-old blogger is one of the few dissidents who continually tests the limits of Singapore’s closely policed media environment. He is gay himself and in his writings has championed repealing the ban, which the government upholds in favor of the majority, still-conservative society it has.

Au’s past brushes with the government include at least one legal letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for a series of blog posts. In response, Au had taken down the offending posts and issued public apologies.

Singapore’s government had also taken him to court over previous blog posts where he allegedly “scandalized the judiciary.”

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