UK court allows Singaporean trans woman to avoid compulsory military duty as man

Landmark verdict blocks Home Office move to deport subject to Singapore where she has to do compulsory military duty as man.

A British court has blocked the UK Home Office's move to deport a Singaporean transgender person who is liable reservist military training in his home country.

The landmark verdict effectively allows the Singaporean to stay in the UK as a woman, and not to return to Singapore where she would be required to do compulsory military service as a man.

The 33-year-old, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, has been studying in UK since September 2004, according to the Guardian.

On Wednesday (April 27), the British daily reported that the Singaporean would be "granted sanctuary in the UK". They also added that "this was the first case of its kind".

The Singaporean was accepted by the UK Home Office as a woman without any hindrance and was issued an identity card where the gender entry was female. But they also mention that the Singaporean has not undergone a full sex change and has completed National Service as a man between December 2001 and June 2004.

However, Singapore's Penal Code states that a "person who has undergone a sex reassignment procedure shall be identified as being of the sex to which that person has been reassigned".

The Guardian reported that the Singaporean was not willing to be treated as a man during the reservist training session and said that it would be "intolerable to be treated as a man after having lived as a woman for a decade."

As reported by the newspaper, the Singaporean's lawyer said: "If my client had been deported by the Home Office, it would be akin to "returning a woman to her home country to be punished as a man."

According to the newspaper, this case has been heard twice by the UK immigration tribunal.

Last November, at the first hearing the judge had ruled in the Singaporean's favour and said, "I find that the requirement of the appellant to essentially hide her gender and live as a man, even for two weeks a year, would be wholly unreasonable."

Based on this rule, the UK Home Office argued that the Singaporean should be sent back to Singapore. They appealed that even if there is any potential discrimination, it would not be harmful.

But, this appeal was rejected by a second judge who heard the case earlier this week. The second judge also ruled in the Singaporean's favour.