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Etiquette SG x Sayoni present The Vagina Monologues
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Monday, 22 April 2013 03:39

Last year's reading brought down the house, thanks to our talented activists and enthusiastic audience. This year, Etiquette SG will bring The Vagina Monologues to greater heights together with Sayoni at The Arts House Chamber (i.e. where parliament used to sit).


The Vagina Monologues

Description
In this rendition of Eve Ensler’s iconic
The Vagina Monologues, 14 Singapore-based woman activists from myriad sectors of civil society come together for a community reading of the script.

In the tradition of V-Day, an event aimed at bringing to light issues pertaining to violence against women, this event is an amateur reading meant as a platform for the voices of non-actors and to reach out to local communities.

The women reading this version of the play work in various fields of social change that span issues of gender equality, sexual violence, animal welfare, queer rights, migrant worker rights, sex worker rights, issues of media representation and issues pertaining to the death penalty.


Get your tickets from Bytes! We hear they're selling fast, so don't wait too long!

Last Updated on Monday, 22 April 2013 03:46
 
ASEAN SOGI Caucus: We are ASEAN
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013 13:45

We, the ASEAN SOGI Caucus[i] are deeply outraged and concerned by the decision of the National Organizing Committee (NOC) of Brunei Darussalam's to restrict discussions and limit civil society spaces at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum 2013 (ASCS/APF) for selective groups of people whose opinions and views are not aligned with the state's views, namely sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE), sex work, sexual and reproductive health rights.

 

We are disappointed that even in spaces that are meant to foster and uphold democracy and human rights principles by and for civil society organizations, specific sectors of society are being discriminated against and are restricted.

 

People of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity as well as sex workers and advocates of sexual and reproductive rights are banned and given conditions from organizing educational workshops that promote understanding and address the human rights violations that we are subjected to because of our identity and orientation.

 

We strongly believe that the invisible hand of the state in policing civil society spaces is highly unacceptable, and if such policing continues the ASCS/APF will no longer be a relevant space for civil society. We strongly urge the ACSC/APF to immediately address and correct this matter.

 

We are at the stage in our struggle for equality and respect that we will not accept discrimination, abuse and violence or state sanction as a part of our existence by the denial of our rights and our humanity.

It is in this spirit of pride and dignity that we are reclaiming our rightful space in our respective countries and in our region, and we demand our governments to:

1.Immediately repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI, recognizes LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonizes national laws, policies and practices with the Yogyakarta Principles.

 

2.Establish national level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (e.g. AICHR, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.

 

3.Depathologize SOGI and promote psychological well being of people of Diverse SOGI in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and ensure equal access to health and social services.

 

We urge the ACSC/APF 2013 to correct and apologize for the discriminatory and regressive action that grossly disrespected our basic human rights as members of the ASEAN community. We call on members of society to support our call for a TRULY INCLUSIVE and a REAL ACSC/APF that protects and promotes the human rights of ASEAN peoples regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as socio-economic background.

 

 
Participants Wanted for Focus Group
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 02:44

 participants-wanted-for-focus-group


Sayoni is hosting a 3-hour group discussion to understand LGBT persons' recent experiences of Singaporean secondary schools. The information collected will not be identifiable. If you are aged 16 to 21, and would like to participate, please register your interest here. Your participation will contribute toward an SMU student paper and, potentially, future advocacy by Sayoni.

For enquiries or if you prefer to speak to us privately, please email Xiu Xuan at [email protected].

She is supervised by Kelly Then, who can be contacted at [email protected].

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 22:57
 
To Singapore’s LGBT Community and Friends
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by jean   
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 10:32

 

To Singapore’s LGBT Community and Friends,

Recent events have caused much grief to many of us. Issues surrounding being LGBT are once again cast in the limelight and being discussed in the media. Hateful words have been used, disinformation has been spread as fact, and our leaders' positions do not appear to be evolving. While many of us are understandably hurt, even angered, by some insensitive comments that have been made, and there is fear that justice and equality may not prevail, it is important that we stay rational and keep calm.

There will be little to be gained from responding to vitriol with more vitriol. In the words of Gandhi, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” Let us not devolve into the very image of the angry and intolerant, whose hearts and minds we ought to win over through love and kindness. Misinformation is best countered rationally, with facts.

At times like this, it is especially difficult for those of us who are not yet ‘out’ and feel like we are living with stigma on our own. The issue may be debated among our peers – at the workplace, in school or in National Service – or even with family members at home. It may be placing undue pressure on those of us who fear being ‘outed’ if we simply took a stand.

Remember, you are not alone. There is a strong community of people – straight and LGBT – who understand what you are going through. It is important that we lend support to one another at this difficult time. While the resources are few, they are available, thanks to the efforts of our own community. You can find links to some of them below.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 03:46
 
Why We Made a Police Report
Articles - Commentary
Written by Kelly   
Sunday, 13 January 2013 16:16




Following our meeting with the Minister, many comments were made in public and in private.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but one comment on our website stood out. The comment started off promising, recognising the typical social roles and contributions of queer persons. It quickly degenerated into a vulgar and violent threat of severe physical assault. When a person incites violence against a minority, whether they are ethnic, religious or sexual minorities, it becomes hate speech.

We decided to make a police report because we are vulnerable, not just as individuals, but as a community. Many queer persons receive threats from persons they know or strangers, at school, in National Service or in casual, social settings. For some who look different, it is a common occurrence. Threats or acts of violence are usually under-reported, but by persons of stigmatised identities, even more so, because they face additional stigma and repercussions.

Hate speech can escalate into hate crime. The recent report in The New Paper about a gang rape is an example of a hate crime, where a person is targeted because they are perceived to be of a particular social group.

As a society, we need to signal that such threats and acts are not acceptable. They offend public decency and are unjust. We would like to encourage everyone to stand up against threats and violence, whether you are a survivor or a bystander.

Stay tuned for updates.

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 January 2013 16:41
 
A Conversation with K Shanmugam on LGBT in Singapore
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by jean   
Sunday, 30 December 2012 02:53

Meeting with K Shanmugam

It all started on the 6th of October 2012 when, out of sheer frustration about the state of institutionalised discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Singapore, I left a note on the Facebook Page of the Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs, K Shanmugam.

I wrote of friends leaving and the National Conversation making no effort to remember that we are Singaporeans too. I highlighted our trip to the United Nations last year to present our shadow report detailing the kind of discrimination that the government so often denies. As I wrote, I got a little bolder and said that if LGBT citizens are not wanted, please tell us, so that we can all forget this struggle and move on to wherever we need to be.

Minister Shanmugam kindly replied, “There can be no suggestion that LGBT citizens are not wanted.” The bigger question is, with the diverse viewpoints in our society and often held strongly by various groups, the government is often caught in the middle trying to decide what would be acceptable to the majority.

I replied by speaking about retaining laws like 377A, which in turn informs or influences policies, creating a cascading effect felt deeply by every LGBT person in Singapore. The exchange went on a few more times and Minister Shanmugam suggested that we meet for a proper chat for him to hear us more on the issues.

 
Fresh Challenge to S377A
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Sunday, 02 December 2012 03:48

Two men have filed a new challenge against Section 377A of the Penal Code. I'm sure most of us will be following the developments anxiously, to see if this law that signals that same-sex relationships are wrong will be overturned one day.

We reproduce the press release below.

--

30 Nov 2012 (Singapore) – A fresh challenge has been made today against s 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes physical relations between two men. Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, partners for 15 years, filed the challenge following a recent landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal in Tan Eng Hong v Attorney General (“Tan Eng Hong”) that clarifies that the very existence of an unconstitutional law in the statute books may suffice to show a violation of an applicant’s constitutional rights.

Singapore is the only one among thirty-five advanced economies [1] in the world that criminalises physical relations between men, and one of only four countries in East and South East Asia [2] to do so. Though the Prime Minister stated in parliament 5 years ago that s 377A would not be ‘pro-actively’ enforced, there have been cases since where individuals have been threatened and charged with s 377A by the police, which was remarked upon by the Court of Appeal.

“I don’t live in fear every day that I will get caught by the police because of my relationship with Gary but I know that s 377A labels me a criminal,” said Kenneth.

Gary adds: “While lawmakers have stated in Parliament that s 377A will not be ‘pro-actively’ enforced, this is not enough because it leaves the possibility of ‘passive enforcement’, should someone decided to make a complaint against us one day.”

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 03:46
 
Statement from the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by sayoni   
Friday, 16 November 2012 01:10

For immediate release


Statement from the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Refuse to Protect LGBTIQ Rights!


This week November 18, 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heads of state adopted the first ever ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).  To the grave disappointment of representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) peoples through out the region, the declaration did not include protections for this highly vulnerable group.


We, the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus  are outraged and disappointed by the decision of the ASEAN Head of States to adopt the AHRD that excluded sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Despite countless attempts and demands by the members of civil society, including LGBTIQ groups, to push for its inclusion, ASEAN have remained reticent to the attempts. This AHRD not only shows a lack of respect to LGBTIQ people but also makes a mockery of the international human rights values and principles that all nations and citizens abide by and are held accountable to.

“Evidently, the numerous failed attempts to engage with AICHR and the recent adoption of ASEAN Declaration with no mention of SOGI, sends a clear message that the human rights of LGBTIQ people are irrelevant to them,” explained Vien Tanjung, founder of Her Lounge.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 December 2012 03:41
 
Population Townhall: A "Lesbian" Perspective
Articles - Commentary
Written by irene   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 02:50

I attended the Population Townhall on 9 Oct, a consultation organised by REACH and the National Population and Talent Division as part of public engagement initiatives for our population issues. Citizens who completed the questionnaire posted on www.population.sg were invited to attend the session.

I wanted to contribute more progressive input towards this initiative. The language used on the website and questionnaire was very heterosexual-centric. I kept seeing the phrase "get married and have children", although not everyone will want to get married before having children. This remains true even for heterosexual couples, who may feel that they are ready to be parents but not married couples.

The panel included DPM Teo Chee Hean, Minister Grace Fu, Acting Minister Tan Chuan-Jin and Amy Khor (REACH's chairperson), who was moderating.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 03:25
 
Gay Clay Workshop
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 25 October 2012 12:02

Gay Clay

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 03:18
 
AWARE Roundtable on SOGI Issues
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by editor   
Sunday, 16 September 2012 03:53

AWARE posted a good overview of recent changes in the Asian LGBT landscape over the past few months. It included some info from a roundtable discussion held on Aug 16 where Sayoni's Jean Chong and Kelly Then spoke.

Here are some relevant parts, but I recommend reading the entire post.

From Beyond 377A:

Pressure from prevailing social attitudes are not countered by any significant State support. While there is no data for Singapore, the worldwide rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide are higher for LGBT youths; they are often teased and bullied in school because of their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no information on safe sex for gay teens in the current sex education syllabus, and no state-sponsored institutions that have expertise in providing counselling for those grappling with LGBT issues.

Jean also mentioned that a study that has shown that many gay people go back into the closet when they grow old, because old folks’ homes are not open to the idea of same-sex relationships.

In the absence of decriminalization and State recognition, it is therefore crucial to include LGBT perspectives in areas such as research, advocacy, and social services, said Kelly. These include the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), sex education, maternal and paternal leave, violence in relationships, singles, de facto relationships (where couples may cohabit for extended periods but not marry), ageing, poverty, and sexual harassment – all issues that impact the LGBT community.

How do you think our invisibility in the state mechanism affects you personally?

 
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