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Launch: Coming Out Guide
Articles - Coming Out
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 30 July 2009 03:48

It can be difficult, risky and yet rewarding for us to communicate honestly and openly about our attraction or relationship with someone of the same sex – to ‘come out'. This Coming Out guide by Sayoni seeks to provide basic information and support to persons who are considering coming out.

It describes commonly used terms about sexuality, often propagated myths and how to spot them. It covers frequent concerns of a person coming out to themselves, to parents, friends and peers, preparing them for possible scenarios and suggesting approaches. Real-life stories and a list of local resources are included to support readers in their individual journeys.

Sayoni will be launching a preview version of the booklet publicly at the Indignation Opening Reception on 1 August 2009.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 19:30
Launch: Coming Out Guide
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 30 July 2009 00:00

It can be difficult, risky and yet rewarding for us to communicate honestly and openly about our attraction or relationship with someone of the same sex – to ‘come out�. This Coming Out guide by Sayoni seeks to provide basic information and support to persons who are considering coming out.

It describes commonly used terms about sexuality, often propagated myths and how to spot them. It covers frequent concerns of a person coming out to themselves, to parents, friends and peers, preparing them for possible scenarios and suggesting approaches. Real-life stories and a list of local resources are included to support readers in their individual journeys.

Sayoni will be launching a preview version of the booklet publicly at the Indignation Opening Reception on 1 August 2009.

PLU: Indignation 2009!
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 26 July 2009 00:00

From PLU

Indignation is the LGBT Pride season in Singapore, reaffirming our participation in the intellectual and cultural life of this country, reminding all that we are as much a part of Singapore as anyone else. The organisers are motivated by a belief that however difficult, progress is possible. We are not passive victims of ignorance and prejudice in an unchanging landscape. We are active citizens playing our part in making Singapore a better place.

The first season was in 2005. This year, 2009, will be our fifth annual season.

Each event is separately organised by by different people, who as a gesture of solidarity, are contributing their events to the joint calendar.

It is never easy organising gay-related events in Singapore. Many kinds of events require licences from various government departments, which tend to react with suspicion towards anything that is gay-themed. Even when licences are given, past experience has shown that intimidatory tactics from the police can still be expected.

Outdoor events such as parades, a common feature of pride festivals in other countries, are virtually impossible since the authorities have a habit of refusing to issue licences.

Funding is another area affected by the political climate; hence the organisers are particularly grateful to those who have bravely stepped forward with sponsorships.

Join us this August 2009 in our annual celebration of Pride. Support our fundraising events that make it all possible.

Click here for the calendar.

Sayoni is an active supporter of Indignation. Look forward to our events on the 22nd August and 29th August!

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 19:28
Singapore says no. And maybe
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 00:00

Singapore has ruled out the possibility of following the Indian High Court’s lead, but leaves it open for the judiciary to interpret the law.

Law Minister says Govt careful of being ahead of public opinion

by Teo Xuanwei
05:55 AM Jul 06, 2009

FOLLOWING an Indian high court’s recent landmark decision last week which overturned a 150-year-old British colonial era law criminalising homosexuality, is it time for Singapore – whose laws are “copied” from India – to repeal Section 377A?

The answer is no, says Law Minister K Shanmugam, because Singapore society is “not ready” for that. “There is a group that is actively committed to saying that homosexuality is okay,” said Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Second Minister for Home Affairs.

“But probably a majority of Singaporeans are still very conservative and say that this is totally not acceptable. So, the Government has to respect both sides.”

He was responding to a question posed by a resident, Ms Khartini Abdul Khalid during a dialogue session when he visited Punggol Central Division yesterday.

While the Government has to “set the standards” on many issues, it must “be careful about being ahead of public opinion,” he said.

“If the majority of our population is against homosexuality, then it’s not for the Government to say we are going to force something against the wishes of the people,” he said, reiterating the Government’s stance when a motion to repeal the law banning homosexual acts in Singapore was intensely debated in Parliament in 2007.

Section 377A – which makes those convicted liable to imprisonment up to two years – was not repealed eventually, even though the Government said it would not actively enforce it.

Mr Shanmugam explained that India’s laws on homosexuality have not changed. Instead, it was the New Delhi High Court’s interpretation that “with the current evidence available and the current social situations in many parts of the world … you can no longer consider homosexuality to be a wrongful sexual activity”, he said.

Mr Shanmugam stressed that Singapore’s courts are likewise free to interpret the law the same way.

“Whether the courts will take the same interpretations, I don’t know, but it’s up to the courts.”

The problem with the government’s reasoning of not wanting to “be ahead” of public opinion is two-fold.

i) Rights should not depend on majoritarian notions – if that were to be the case, then rights for minorities would likely not exist, for surely, the majority profits from oppressing the minorities.

ii) The government’s claim that they cannot be ahead of the people is disingenous – they have taken unpopular action in the past, such as legalising casinos.

To step shy of an action repealing s377A is simply to send the signal that their queer citizens are second-class citizens not worthy of legal protection. It also sends that the religious sensitivities of people can be used to discriminate against people who do not share that view – which is a dangerous path to tread.

s377A is a highly discriminatory piece of legislation which criminalises even consensual sex between men. Its effects go far beyond simply making queer men criminals – it stigmatises homosexuality, adding a layer of non-apprehended criminality to their lives. It greatly impedes work in the HIV/AIDS sector, as the threat of criminal sanction drives the community underground. Criminalising the conduct itself does nothing to curb its practice, but has many other adverse effects.

All of this was acknowledged in the landmark judgment of Naz Foundation v Government of NCT of Delhi WP(C) No.7455/2001 decided last week. The court ruled decisively that there was no rational nexus between the law and its use against homosexual men, hence violating the fundamental right of being equal before the law.

For those unversed with the general doctrinal approaches to equality litigation – equality does not mean actually everyone is treated alike. Equality means treating like alike, and unlike unlike. If there is to be a differential treatment of people, it has to be based on a rational nexus. Different jurisdictions take different approaches to how this rational nexus is evaluated. Hence, for a law to be held as constitutional even thought it treats people differently, the differential treatment has to be based on a reason that makes some sense. For example, one cannot discriminate against red-headed girls for a job, because the colour of her hair has no bearing on how she does her job.

There has also been a certain amount of eye-rolling in certain circles at the fact that India, a country which is supposed to be more socially and economically backwards, a country which can be said to be more conservative than Singapore, has decriminalised homosexuality, throwing the “asian values” argument right out the window. While the sentiment is understandable and quite justified, the reality is that Singapore and India are in different constitutional environments. Rights litigation is active and vibrant in India, and anyone who has studied public law in Singapore realises that local courts often reject precedents on constitutional cases that originate from India (for various reasons too complicated to cover here).

I also find it curious that the law minister seems to be abdicating the decision to the judiciary – an attitude which did not exist in the past. Never has in Singapore history a law been struck down for being unconstitutional – Public Prosecutor v Taw Cheng Kong (High Court) was the closest one got to striking down a law, and that was promptly reversed by the Court of Appeal. Are they leaving it to the courts, confident that the judiciary will not strike down a law made by the legislature (or that a case would ever even come to the court), or are they hoping it will happen and they will not have to be accountable to the people for the courts (staffed by judges who are not democratically elected nor accountable to any electorate, hence immune from their pressure) exercising their inherent jurisdiction and judicial power?

Now that the legislature has official washed their hands off the matter (at least for the time being), should we look to the courts for salvation? This is a tricky question, and can be the subject-matter of an entire thesis, analysing the history of the Singapore rights jurisprudence and how far the courts are willing to push. Constitutional litigation in general has had a very poor track record, as I explained earlier. However, things are changing – we now have a very wise, very learned bench (Chan Sek Keong CJ, Andrew Phang JA, VK Rajah JA) which prizes legality and are slowly but surely opening up to the notion that the courts are indeed the ultimate arbiter of law in the state, even on constitutional issues.

Whether or not now is the time to make this constitutional challenge, it is safe to say that in a few years, it will be (if it is not repealed quietly by the legislature by then).

Sign the petition: Say No To Rape
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Tuesday, 07 July 2009 01:29



The No To Rape campaign advocates one simple idea: sexual violence by any person, against any person, is criminal violence. Consequently, non-consensual sexual penetration, regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator are married to each other, should be treated as rape.

The online petition is coordinated by a team of concerned Singaporeans who have come together for the single purpose of promoting change on this issue. The team is not a formal organisation and its members have no shared agenda beyond addressing sexual violence.

Sayoni on New Media
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 01:31

Yes, at Sayoni, we do move with the times and the all the newfangled technology on the interwebs (it is a system of tubes after all).

Find us on Twitter, at, and on Facebook, at There might be other people named “sayoni” or� a derivative thereof, on these social networking sites, but please note that we are not connected to them. Only these two accounts are our authenticated accounts on Twitter and Facebook respectively. If you come across a named account on another website which you are not sure is connected to us, feel free to drop us an email for verification, at

Breaking News: Indian High Court has decriminalised gay sex
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 02 July 2009 00:00

Just today, the High Court of India ruled that s377 of the Indian Penal Code did not include consensual homosexual sex. This breakthrough comes after three years of litigation that commenced in 2006, by an interest group known as Naz Foundation sought a declaration that the law was discriminatory towards homosexuals. The decision is expected to be appealed. We will be reporting further on this development, and presenting an analysis of the judgment once it has been published.

Originally Reported by Reuters.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court Thursday ruled gay sex was not a crime, a verdict that will bolster demands by gay and health groups that the government scrap a British colonial law which bans homosexual sex.

In a country where public hugging and kissing even among heterosexuals invites lewd remarks and sometimes beatings, gay sex has been a taboo, leaving the government unsure how conservative Indians would react if the law was repealed.

The Delhi High Court’s ruling that homosexual sex among consenting adults is not a crime is expected to boost an increasingly vocal pro-gay lobby in India that says the British-era law was a violation of human rights.

The current law bans “sex against the order of nature,” and is widely interpreted to mean homosexual sex in India.

Gay rights activists hailed the court verdict as historic and many supporters of homosexuality were seen celebrating with sweets and smearing each other with vermilion.

“We have finally entered into the 21st century,” said Anjali Gopalan, leader of Naz Foundation, a leading health and gay rights lobby.

The ruling applies to all of India, but can be appealed at the Supreme Court.

Gay rights activists also argue the law, framed in 1861, was an impediment in fighting against HIV/AIDS because many homosexuals refuse to come out in the open fearing harassment by authorities.

“Consensual sex amongst adults is legal which includes even gay sex and sex among the same sexes,” said a two-judge bench of the court. The verdict said the current law will apply in the event of sex without consent.

Petitions to change the 1861 law have so far been firmly rejected by the government but there has been some softening up on the stand in recent years, with officials saying the possibility of revoking the ban was being discussed.

Thursday’s court verdict came after nine years of legal proceedings initiated by India’s gay groups.

Under the current law, homosexual sex is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

(Reporting by S. Venkatraman and Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Valerie Lee)

6 Men Charged under s377 and s377A for sex with teen (Singapore)
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 07 June 2009 00:00

In breaking news of this week, 6 men have been charged under s377A and s377 of the Singapore Penal Code, for sex with a teen they met on the internet. We reproduce the AGC Media Briefing below.


The abovenamed six accused persons have been charged for committing unnatural
offences with a 15 year old male student on occasions in 2006 and 2007. The six
accused persons met the victim while chatting on the internet. The accused
persons are charged as follows:-

1. NG GENG WHYE: 1 charge of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224;

2. QUEK HOCK SENG: 1 charge of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224.

3. SONG CHOONG CHEN THOMAS : 1 charge of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224;

4. BALASUNDARAM S/O SUPPIAH : 1 charge of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224.

5. MUHAMMAD HAFASHAH BIN MOHD ASLAM: 2 charges of Carnal Intercourse Against the Order of Nature under s377 of the Penal Code Cap.224; and

6. NG YONG YOU VICTOR: 2 charges of Gross Indecency under s377A of the Penal Code Cap.224.

The Public Prosecutor will prosecute persons who exploit a young victim who is a minor, irrespective of the gender of the victim or whether the act was consensual. A young male victim, who is a minor, deserves to be accorded the same protection the law as that given to a young female victim who is a minor.

One might be inclined to ask why they are being prosecuted under a law that does not exist anymore – s377 is now confined solely to cases of necrophilia, and not unnatural sex. That would be because the offences were committed in 2006-2007, at a time when s377 still covered all unnatural sex.

The other question is, why not charge those charged under s377A, under the new s376A, which was specifically inserted to provide for the protection of minors of both genders? It is a principle of criminal law that laws cannot be retrospective – s376A did not exist in force at the time of the offence (gazetted on 1 Feb 2008), and hence cannot be used to prosecute them.

In our opinion, it is important to protect minors from sexual predators, and we believe that if the men are indeed guilty of assaulting the teen (or having sex with him at a point when he is unable to consent), they should be punished. We cannot, legally and socially, agree with the use of s377A to prosecute the crime, however, we acknowledge that the AGC must have been caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to follow the circuitous roads of legal reasoning. The issue here is that male minors were never protected under the Penal Code until the advent of s376A, and s377A was used a very poor substitute to address a much deeper, very different social problem.

We hope that for future crimes such as this, s376A will be used, and not s377A.

Insider’s Account: Dinah Shore 2009
Articles - Entertainment
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Saturday, 06 June 2009 00:00

Editor’s Foreward: For the readers of our blog, Dinah Shore is an annual one-week long party for queer women, held in Palm Springs. One of our members, pink_is_in, recently decided to spend a weekend in Dinah Shore with her girlfriend, and here’s an account of her experience being surrounded by thousands of queer women bent on partying it up. Who said gay men were the only ones who knew how to party? Also, please note the personal views expressed herein are the author’s alone, and Sayoni in no way endorses or supports her views.

Vagina Heaven

Dinah Shore 2009 (Organised by Club Skirt) or I would rather call it Vagina Heaven was held at Palm Spring, California, USA. It's basically 5 days full of parties, concerts and babes. To tell you the truth, it sounds to good to be true. Its in the middle of nowhere (well, palm spring is 90% desert), full of hot girls, for almost a week. And the best part is they are lesbian, so the chances are pretty high to get lucky! *wink*wink*


Well, my girlfriend and I decided to go to VH since we are going to USA/Canada for our vacation this year. We were pretty excited and looking forward to the experience, since we were very bored with the lesbian scene in Singapore.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:23
Some Kinda Wonderful
Articles - Coming Out
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 06:15

This is piece of guest writing by dubdew, who published this on her blog some time ago. It is dedicated to her girlfriend, who still makes her feel that fuzzy warmth after all this while.

Taken from

I haven’t even had that much time to get to know you. Surely the only you I’ve had the chance to get to know is the one you tell me of. The one who saw those crazed days, months, years, fly by, the one who runs, the one who hangs on for dear life, the one who loved, the one who lost, the one who laughs and makes me laugh so impossibly hard. I’ve fretted my mind into quite a knot over you, and it’s the same you that I couldn’t quite seem to push away with as much conviction as I probably should have, should you have turned out to be anyone else. I can’t quite decide what someone like you could possibly want with someone like me – I’m so .. young, I’m so green, I’m so aimless, and it’s all just one big mess that I’d never voluntarily take on.

Yet you do. You take me on with the determination of a gung-ho kamikaze bomber. You’ve taken the insane amount nonsense I’ve given you in an equally insanely short period of time, nary a complaint within earshot; simply that bemused smirk which creeps across your face like sunlight over the horizon, then finally melts away into that musical laugh as I try to tell you what’s going through my mind and end up retreating under my covers. You sit right there in your chair, legs crossed, knee resting against the table, fingers twirling your watch around when they’re not otherwise tucked in your pockets or folded across your chest. Standoffish is what you seem to like describing yourself as, yet I catch you leaning forward and perching yourself on this very precarious ledge, nonchalantly swinging your legs over the edge, cards lain out on the table. You’re ready to retreat into your shell should I so choose to request of you, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is that you’re out here, waiting for me to take your hand, even if this crashes and burns the very day after I step off that ledge with you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:37
Sayoni Summer Camp 2009: An Insider’s Account
Articles - Sayoni Camp
Saturday, 23 May 2009 00:00

This article is written by a guest writer, Sharon.

It took wagonloads of faith to know nothing about the camp and yet sign up for it. I had no idea where we were headed to (friends asked, 'how would we know where to extradite your body from then, be it if you drown during water activities or if you collapse from being at a lesbian camp.' My friends equate lesbian camp to sex orgy thingy.), what was the exact itinerary (gawd, please don't let them make us play school-ish telematch games nor do the 'oh this is how much potential you have in you, however please do feel real bad about yourself so you'd move your lazy ass' seminars), or who are the other 45 campers (45?! I barely want to get to know one new person per year in my personal life).


So why did I do it? Because it is the first ever camp for queer women after all. The advert did say 'series of meaningful and exciting activities, and make connections with others in an ideal exclusive location'. Which queer woman wouldn't want to make connections with others... in a series (!), in a meaningful and exciting manner (!), and at an ideal exclusive location (!!). No wonder places filled up quickly….


The campers came from all walks of life, across an age range of 18-40s (Editor’s note: oldest person present was close to 50). There were bankers, students, engineers, bummers, researchers, test-tube washers (me), consultants and etc. Some previously knew about Sayoni, others didn't. Several came from beyond Singapore, a few came from way beyond. It was truly a diverse group, but very quickly that didn't matter. Like in the wild waterpolo matches, all that mattered was 'we are team, let's play!'. This spirit of 'team' spilled over to the workshops, late-night symposiums1 and stolen-moment gatherings.


The workshops were about self-development and growth, with a focus on encouraging self-exploration and understanding of our relationship with the world around us. In other words, the workshops were about 'who am I', 'who am I in relationships' and 'who am I in the community'. Messages from the workshops were delivered in various ways -- in detailed textual descriptions on screen, in patient comprehensive explanations by the speakers, in visually stunning pictures, videos and demonstrations, in lively open discussions from the audience, and in personal sharing of stories and opinions in small group discussions. Contrary to my expectation of the 2 to 3 hour-long workshops, I was never bored. Furthermore, I surprised myself that from each workshop, there was stuff for me to bring home to think a little more about. Even the more mature ones among us mentioned that they benefited from the workshops. Seems like it was 'milk' enough for the young 'uns and 'meat' enough for the toughies.


As quickly as 'team' surfaced from the diversity, the spirit of 'family' soon emerged by the 2nd day of the camp. You could say we played our way into each other's hearts. Waterpolo matches, meal times, BBQ dinner, late-night symposiums and even on the ferry back, these were all dear moments of playful fun, hearty laughter, good conversations, and explicit sharings, We found ourselves to be different yet so similar in our struggles, challenges, discrimination, hopes and dreams.


Just a word here about the camp conditions. I believe I echo the sentiments of many campers when I say it was good. The rooms were big and spacious, each one had a balcony with a view, the sheets were comfy and clean, toilets were clean and functioning properly, and even had toilet paper and paper towels all the time. (Yes, I am quite the fussy traveller.) Meals were buffet-style with at least 2 types of 'carbo' (rice, bread, noodles, or pasta), 3 kinds of meat, vegetables, a soup, a long dessert table, and the ever-essential coffee and tea. The resort was a good choice to have the camp. It had a big beautiful pool, a private dining area for all of us, a private beach, and an outdoor bar & grill place by the beach with a good sound system and even a place to dance. Schedule-wise, we had enough time for fun and workshops. There was also free time where we could choose to laze at the hotel or go down to town for shopping and a 2-hour massage. The organisers were also flexible in accommodating our request for more pool time in the sun. I was also impressed that it was relatively fast and painless from the point of meet-up and registration, getting our boarding passes, onto the ferry and 3-min bus transfer, to checking-in to our rooms.


In my business organisation, we are extremely customer-oriented. At the end of million-dollar projects, we give our clients a customer satisfaction survey to fill up and mail anonymously to our head office. On the survey form, clients can rate us on the scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is 'disappointed', 2 is 'does not meet expectations', 3 is 'meets my expectations', 4 is 'beyond my expectations' and 5 is 'delighted'.

This camper is delighted.




1. Symposium – (in ancient Greece and Rome) a convivial meeting, usually following a dinner, for drinking and intellectual conversation.
Last Updated on Sunday, 06 June 2010 23:12
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