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Court ruling deals blow to gay rights in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Rights activists reacted with indignation on Wednesday after Singapore's High Court rejected a petition to repeal an archaic law criminalizing sex between men.

In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the court said it was up to parliament to repeal a controversial provision in the penal code known as Section 377A, whose constitutionality has been questioned by a gay couple.

"The issue in the present case no doubt is challenging and important, but it is not one which, in my view, justifies heavy-handed judicial intervention ahead of democratic change," Judge Quentin Loh said in his verdict.

"To my mind, defining moral issues need time to evolve and are best left to the legislature to resolve," he added.

The law dates back to British colonial rule in Singapore and carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail for homosexual acts.

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