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Man pleads guilty to threatening judge who dismissed 377A challenges

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·3-min read
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 29: Attendees form the characters Repeal 377A in a call to repeal Section 377A of Singapore's Penal Code which criminalises sex between men during the Pink Dot event held at the Speaker's Corner in Hong Lim Park on June 29, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)
Pink Dot attendees participate in its annual light-up event on 29 June, 2019 in Singapore to call for the repeal of Section 377A of Singapore's penal code, which criminalises sex between men. (Getty Images file photo)

SINGAPORE — A Singaporean man pleaded guilty on Monday (22 January) to posting multiple threatening messages on Instagram against a judge who last year dismissed challenges to Section 377A of the penal code, which criminalises sex between men.

Muhammad Hanif Mohamed Huzairi, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of communicating an electronic record containing an incitement to violence as well as another count of making threatening communication against a public servant under the Protection from Harassment Act.

Two other charges will be taken into consideration for his sentencing, which is expected to be on 22 April.

Court documents stated that when Hanif heard that Justice See Kee Oon had dismissed three challenges to overturn Section 377A on 30 March last year, he was "very upset and disappointed", and felt that the current judges had to be replaced. The challenges were filed by three men: retired general practitioner Roy Tan Seng Kee, former executive director of LGBT non-profit organisation Oogachaga Bryan Choong Chee Hoong, and disc jockey Johnson Ong Ming.

Hanif reacted by commenting on an Instagram post on the verdict by Pink Dot SG – a gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights advocacy group – as well as posting Instagram stories on his personal account which was public. Instagram stories are only visible on one's profile for 24 hours.

Hanif's Instagram account had 267 followers at the time. His first Instagram story post at 4.02pm on 30 March last year read: “To the dead*** boomer of a judge who dismissed the challenges against S377A, you better f***ing watch out!!”

His second Instagram story, uploaded about an hour later, stated, “Homophobic judges need to be put down immediately.”

Later in the evening, he posted a third Instagram story which stated that he was going to “begin his work on some death curses to be inflicted on” the judges. A fourth Instagram story called upon others to “torture the corrupted judges” until they “crumble and repeal S377A on the spot” as well as claimed that he would love to do so personally.

On the same day at 7.17pm, Hanif commented on Pink Dot SG’s public Instagram post, stating that it was “time to hunt down the oppressive judges, who basically maintained the legalisation of discrimination against us, and make them pay the ultimate price”.

At 11.30pm on the same day, a complainant lodged an online police report after viewing the comment, and subsequently, Hanif's Instagram stories.

Prosecution calling for seven months' jail

The prosecution called for at least seven months' jail for Hanif, arguing that a "stiff sentence is necessary to send a resounding signal to the accused and any like-minded individuals that threats to judges and incitements to violence borne out of unhappiness with a judicial decision have no place in a civil society".

"A failure to nip such offensive behaviour in the bud could lead to the undesirable proliferation and normalisation of such offences as experienced in other jurisdictions," it added.

"The present case is particularly egregious, as the accused person not only threatened a judge, but the judiciary as an institution."

If convicted of communicating an incitement to violence, he may be jailed up to five years, or fined, or both. For threatening a public servant, he can be jailed up to 12 months or fined up to $5,000, or both.

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