News and Opinions

Participants Wanted for Focus Group

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Announcements

 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

She is supervised by Kelly Then, who can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To Singapore’s LGBT Community and Friends

Written by jean on . Posted in Commentary

 

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.

Why We Made a Police Report

Written by Kelly on . Posted in Commentary




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.

A Conversation with K Shanmugam on LGBT in Singapore

Written by jean on . Posted in Advocacy

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

Written by sayoni on . Posted in LGBT News & Politics

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.

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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.”

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