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The Activist’s Dilemma
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by lublub   
Thursday, 31 May 2007 00:00
The recent hoo-haa surrounding MM Lee’s statements on homosexuality has ruffled my feathers and poked at the idealist in me. It was heartening to see so many others rise up and stand up for who they are, by writing into forums, newspapers to defend themselves and others.

It’s for the future, or so we say.

We spend our time and effort and our brain cells into mounting a suitable defense against the homophobes, against the naysayers. Furiously spending hours crafting that perfect rebuttal, hoping, with whatever slim chance there is’ that it’ll be published in the papers.

But is it enough?

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:10
 
The Old Man and the City-state (Singapore)
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Monday, 28 May 2007 00:00

The wise old man has spoken, and pearls have come out of his mouth. One pearl had F1 race written boldly on it, and another had a rainbow sheen. Just a sheen, a trick of the light upon the smooth surface.

Minister Mentor Lee has, surprisingly, given his stamp of approval for the decriminalisation of homosexual sex in Singapore. Following this widely-publicised interview, Reuters questioned him further on his change of heart. As to the motivations of his statement, it is painfully clear that it is bourne out of economic sense than any amount of sympathy towards human rights.

Those who remember the furore over the penal code some months ago will understand the relevance of his comments. The bill has not gone through a parliamentary reading yet, and at this point, public debate is important if we are to change any minds. MM Lee's comments have indeed sparked a public debate. The Straits Times Forum page is evidence enough of this.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:09
 
Latest News of Bigotry (Singapore)
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by sayoni   
Tuesday, 13 March 2007 00:00

The National Council of Churches of Singapore is doing it again. In it’s latest attempt to uphold it’s medieval values of hypocrisy, homophobia and ignorant religious rant, the NCSS ‘encouraged’ the Singapore government to outlaw lesbian sex along with sex between men. Published in the monthly journal of the Methodist Church in Singapore, we
quote :

(c) We are aware that the proposed amendment to delete section 377 PC but on the other hand retaining section 377A PC may be controversial in some quarters. Nevertheless, we consider homosexual acts to be sinful, abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not. The NCCS commends the Government on taking a clear, unequivocal and bold stand of neither encouraging nor endorsing a homosexual lifestyle and opposing the presentation of the same as part of a mainstream way of life. At the same time, we do not condemn homosexuals as the Bible calls us to hate the sin but love the sinner. Given that section 377A PC criminalises homosexuality whether done private or publicly, we are of the view that a similar prohibition ought to be enacted in respect of lesbianism, considering that lesbianism (like homosexuality) is also abhorrent and deviant, whether consensual or not.’

Singapore is undergoing a major review of its Penal Code which the Ministry of Home Affairs is proposing to repeal Section 377 of the Penal Code which criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ while retaining 377A which criminalises ‘gross indecency between two males.’ Section 377A of the Penal Code provides a 2-year jail term. In short, heterosexual anal or oral sex will be ok but not homosexual sex.

Taking note of NCSS’s statement that totally ignored the proposed repeal of Section 377, the question for NCSS is, why are heterosexual anal or oral sex ok now for your dust-filled holy book?

A quick note to the reader :

The comment above is institution and issue specific and not to be viewed as an offense to the religion.

Relevant links :

Methodist Message

Statement from PLU

Sayoni at Penal Code focus group

Sayoni at Penal Code focus group 2

An excellent article on proposed changes in the Penal Code by Yawning Bread

A detailed reading into the Consultation Paper on the proposed penal code amendments by the Ministry of Home Affairs

 
Interracial Dating: Holding Hands
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 00:00

This is the third part of the series on Interracial Dating. Read the first two parts here and here.

Holding Hands

After you navigate the maze of the rules of attraction, there is the actual dating. This is when the fun begins, as the carnival of culture clash comes to your town.

Dimsum or Samosa?

Race, or ethnicity, is almost synonymous with culture. What race you are, usually pinpoints to the environment one grew up in, the customs observed, the festivals celebrated. It can impact the thousand different ways we carry ourselves, conduct our daily lives.

Hence, when two people of two different ethnicities come together, there are bound to be cultural differences. Maybe she is appalled that you can eat food with your fingers. Maybe he is rolling his eyes when you use water, not tissue paper. Differences can be a source of conflict, or it can be the starting point of mutual discovery.1

To add another layer of confusion, even within certain 'races', such Indians, there are several small ethnic groups with drastically different cultures. Malays are not a uniformly descended group from one Malay ancestor, but a socially and legally enforced grouping of several small indigenous tribes. And of course, there are the myriad dialect groups in the Chinese community. There is more diversity than we think there is.

From my previous articles about Rules of Attraction, the readers would remember the Totem pole, a ladder of sexual superiority and inferiority, and the phenomenon of internal racism. The 'inferior' race may sometimes try to suppress her racial characteristics when with her partner, believing them to be unappealing. Or perhaps they think that the lack of cultural traits make them more like their partner, hence more relatable. Suddenly she stops wearing her favourite salvar kameezes, or maybe he doesn't listen to his Javanese folk music collection anymore.2

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:08
 
Observations at a focus group meeting for the proposed Penal Code amendments in Singapore
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 06 December 2006 00:00

As the Penal Code is being updated, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been soliciting feedback from the public about this proposed amendments. One of the avenues was through focus group discussions for welfare, grassroots, religious and women’s groups. I attended one of them by prior registration.

MHA’s Reaching Everyone for Active [email protected] Home (REACH) officers had organised the focus group meeting well. Light food and beverage was catered before the meeting, as it was to begin at around dinner time. At the registration table, attendees were asked to record their Identity Card (IC) numbers on the list, to indicate attendance. It would no doubt be easier to monitor a person through this number.

Inside the low-lit room, paper and pencils were laid on their chairs for attendees. A REACH officer presented a general overview of the proposed amendments before the discussion began proper. It was chaired by three persons – Mses. Indranee Rajah (MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, MM Lee’s team), Ellen Lee (a lawyer) and Rahayu. Attendees were invited to step up to the microphone to air their views. It soon became clear that the focus for the night was on the amendments which affected marital immunity for rape and criminalised gay sex.

Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE) had done their homework and came well-prepared with cogent arguments for the amendments which particularly concerned them, mainly that of marital immunity for rape. Each member of their organisation presented an argument which was received with knowing nods all around.

One such argument was that the marital immunity clause had been created by a British judge in 1793. It was not only anachronistic, it was also incongruent with the Singapore government’s attempts (e.g. the Women’s Charter) to dispel the notion of women being property. Ms Rajah seemed well aware that the limited scenarios proposed in the new amendment would protect few women. When the room was asked if everyone felt that marital immunity ought to be completely removed, there was a unanimous consensus.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:01
 
MHA Women’s Focus Group Discussion on Penal Code Amendments(Singapore)
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Monday, 04 December 2006 00:00
Last Thursday, gathering my Sayoni mates and a whole lot of courage, I went to the MHA Focus Discussion Group for women. Coincidentally, or maybe not, it was held at Ang Mo Kio Grassroots Club, right in the bastion of the PM.

Upon registeration at the welcome-desk, one of our members refused to give our IC as identification, which caused some amount of confusion for the desk-helpers. Apparently, no one had ever tried to hold on their privacy before]. She was eventually allowed to pass. We went inside, and waited for quite a long time for the event to start, even though we had arrived after seven. During this time, we went through the amendments like we were mugging last-minute for an examination.

Finally, people started coming in. AWARE members took up at least half the audience, and the rest was made up of Sayoni women and private citizens. Two girls, one of whom we recognised to be a PSC/President's scholar, started the event by welcoming everyone, and reading out the entire amendment in, all 8 pages of it, in flat tones. Before I zoned out, I noticed one comment on the powerpoint presentation: they explicitly stated that lesbian sex would not be criminalised. And the speaker added a comment that this was 'so as not to give the impression that we are regressive in the area'. We could only look at each in confused incredulity, aware of the glaring contradiction as 377A was still in place.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 19:37
 
Why I am cynical about Singapore’s political process
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Teng Qian Xi   
Monday, 07 August 2006 00:00

I live in a country where the state believes they have the right to decide whether people should be digits, or creative or entrepreneurial.

I live in a country where the ministers claim that the ruling party’s majority votes means “the people want to be led.” (Dr Wang Kai Yuen, ST, April 4 2002) I live in a country where before the general elections, the ruling party redraws constituency boundaries to have more walkovers, bankrupts opposition politicians and castrates the national press while its ministers tell everyone to speak up, not to fear being “hit by a big stick” (Raymond Lim, ST, April 4 2002). This is safe because the people who spoke up before MPs encouraged them to are either overseas, silenced or dead.

I live in a country where no minister has campaigned publicly for the abolition of the Internal Security Act even if they believed that it was a violation of human rights. Even if they knew that Communism is demonised by the authorised history. Even if they knew that most of the population heads down to Orchard Road on Sundays.

I live in a country where the ministers who determine the political process are paid private-sector salaries. There are few other reasons to join the ruling party, so certified talents are worth their price.

I live in a country where the state announces that we must have a vibrant arts scene. So they build the Esplanade which is too big for most local performance groups. On National Day they say that promoting the arts is another way to attract more tourists to this ‘global hubcity’; they do not even pretend that pandering to foreign money is less important than giving citizens an awareness of their own country’s culture.

I live in a country where the front shelves of bookshops are crowded with one man’s words. Until recently, anything that disagrees these words could only be found in Select Books (Tanglin Shopping Centre) or overseas.

I live in a country where my parents have friends who were tortured by the Internal Security Department. So for them and others, an 18-year-old girl talking to the press about politics will never be seen as invulnerable. An 18-year-old girl who comments on a minister in an newspaper interview will be told she could cause someone in MOE to lose their job.

I live in a country where the national paper will announce that a poem has won a foreign prize, but they will not willingly add (until much later) that it is written from a lesbian perspective. What the paper’s employees think of homosexuality and its criminalisation has nothing to do with this.

I live in a country where the state makes its arguments too simple. Such as: the PAP = the country. Such as: democracy = protests = violence = disorder = national disaster. Such as: human rights = confusing Western concept that our people don’t need to learn very much about. Such as: history = one man’s story. Such as: Chia Thye Poh = opposition = Marxist = dangerous = 32 years of imprisonment = non-existence in the authorised history.

I live in a country with a population that is constantly hit by men in white with invisible and visible sticks. I live in a country where it is hard to expect people to value anything more than protecting themselves from these big sticks, or getting your own stick and white uniform.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 14:47
 
Fridae’s Feeling Good party cancelled. Deja-vu anyone?
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Sunday, 26 March 2006 00:00

Feelin' Good, a party organised by gay and lesbian media and events company Fridae, has been cancelled after the venue, Ministry of Sound, received a telephone call from local police on Friday evening demanding that they cease venue provision for the event.

According to Mr. Clement Lee, executive director of Ministry of Sound's parent company LifeBrandz, Mr Kelvin Yeo, Compliance Management Officer from Tanglin Police called on Friday evening after office hours demanding that the club cancel the event, failing which enforcement officers would come to the club on Sunday to shut the party down. The reason given by the police to Mr. Lee over the telephone was that the party would 'promote gay activities'.

Whilst Singapore laws prohibit gay sex, there are no laws against being gay. As recently as 2003, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was interviewed in Time Magazine about the Singapore government's non-discrimination policy for employment in the civil service, and was quoted saying gays are 'just like you and me'.

Singapore has a thriving gay scene that includes more than dozen organisations, bars and establishments catering primarily to a gay or lesbian clientele. Feelin' Good would have been Fridae's first party in Singapore in more than a year and a half, featuring popular Australian DJ Kate Monroe.

In response to previous criticism by current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Fridae's parties 'should not be targeted at gays alone' (December 2004), Feelin' Good has been actively promoted to the mainstream public through a variety of media, including Lush 99.5FM radio and local publications IS and Juice.

'The reaction from the police has been completely unexpected,' said Dr Stuart Koe, CEO of Fridae. Feelin' Good is simply a party, not unlike any party held at clubs all around Singapore. There is no legal justification for what the police has done. This is yet another example of institutionalised discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Fridae regrets the turn of events and will offer full refunds to ticket holders. Please refer to the website www.fridae.com/feelingood for the refund process. We would also like to thank the community and our sponsors for your continued support and understanding.

First off, I would like to say that yours truly hasn’t been to a single gay party, pub or club in her entire life. So I am really wondering how the Homosexuals were able to “encourage” me to enter a gay lifestyle. I am sure it has absolutely nothing to do with all those cute girls I was fawning over from young, when I didn’t even know that lesbians could get it on.

Secondly, I’d like to offer my condolences to Mr Kelvin Yeo for having been made the national (and international) laughing stock, and having to be the mouthpiece for our darling government who just LOVES to control the lives of its citizens to a tee.

Thirdly, I’d like to tell all the gay citizenry in Singapore: emigrate, darlings. As soon as you can – leave this hell-hole behind, and don’t look back. Don’t hope for anything from Minilee, or that he is any different from his father.

Maybe what Fridae should do is to organise mass deportation to other countries for all gay and lesbian people – let’s see if Minilee steps in and says that it would promote a “gay lifestyle”, or is not “in their national interests”.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 19:36
 
Media Release from People Like Us (PLU)
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by snorkeem   
Thursday, 19 January 2006 00:00

Media Release From People Like Us (PLU)
19 Jan 2006, 20.30h
Singapore govt gives $100,000 to Christian anti-gay group

By giving $100,000 to Liberty League, as reported by ChannelNewsAsia (CNA), the Singapore government is helping to promote a religious cause founded on unscientific and psychologically damaging methods.

Liberty League intends to “promote gender and sexual health” through “conduct[ing] sexuality talks in schools” – CNA report.

However, Liberty League’s website promotes a book ‘Freedom of Choice’. The book’s subjects were almost totally from the Christian group, Choices, which runs programmes teaching that homosexuality is a psychological dysfunction. The book thus promotes this kind of pseudo-therapy propagated by fundamentalist Christian groups.

Mr Leslie Lung, the founder of Liberty League has long been known to be associated with “ex-gay” ministries. The “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” movement is strongly associated with the more extreme churches in the United States. Liberty League’s website itself uses terms such as “sexual brokenness”, “addiction and abuse”.

In a seminar organised by the Graduates Christian Fellowship on 13 October 2005, which described homosexuality as a psychological problem, Liberty League was touted as resource for counseling. It was recommended by Mr Tan Thuan Seng, the President of Focus on the Family, Singapore (FOTF-Sg) who is known to regularly give anti-gay talks in Christian circles.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:03
 
Liberty League… not really for liberty
Articles - LGBT Rights, Politics & World News
Written by Indu   
Monday, 16 January 2006 00:00

SINGAPORE : Focus groups to help gays and lesbians understand their sexual identity are just one of the things that newly set up Liberty League plans to put in place.

The non-profit organisation has received a S$100,000 grant from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.

Liberty League says it is the first community service group of its kind in Singapore.

Its mission is to promote gender and sexual health for the individual, family and society.

To achieve this, it will conduct sexuality talks in schools.

It will also work with organisations such as the Girls’ Brigade to educate teenagers on sexuality and biology.

The group will address issues related to romantic relationships, be they heterosexual or otherwise.

It says another important aspect of its work is focus groups for gays, lesbians and transsexuals who are grappling with their gender identities.

Currently, 70 percent of those it works with fall into this category.

There will also be support groups for parents of homosexuals.

Said Leslie Lung, founder and executive director of the Liberty League , “This is very much based on the Alcoholic Anonymous self-help principles. So people come; it’s an environment that is friendly, warm, based on friendship, encouraging people to take small steps to talk about the issues, recognize why they are doing certain things, find resolutions.”

Does it mean that Liberty League champions gay and lesbian rights?

Leslie Lung explained, “We champion human rights really. It’s about people being able to say, I’m human and sexual orientation is so wide. Being gay and lesbian is part of it; coming out of it is part of it as well.”

In a conservative society like Singapore, the league’s work can be expected to be controversial.

But the NVPC’s S$100,000 start-up grant has helped given the low-profile group a public platform for its work.

The money comes from the Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports; a ministry official also sits on the panel that approves the grants.

Said Tan Chee Koon, chief executive officer of the NVPC, “Among teenagers, there are some who are confused about sexuality issues, and do need to seek clarification and help to work them through their confusion.”

She added, “They need to go to some non-threatening parties to talk about their concerns.”

Asked about the nature of the group’s work, and those it will be working with, Mrs Tan says the NVPC is all for work that benefits the community.

She said, “We don’t sit in judgment on this score but of course it must be for the public good. It must benefit the community; it must be about good works. But if somebody in this case seeks to go out to affirm gender — in their case healthy sexuality and gender affirmation — we are neutral on that score.”

Mrs Tan added, “When I look at the grant, we are like social investors that invest in non-profit initiatives, which if they prove to be successful, the outcome is that lives are rebuilt, needs are met, volunteers are raised and community resources mobilised.”

Liberty League will be officially launched on 25 January. – CNA /ct

Channelnewsasia

*facepalm*

So the government is now trying a new tactic. Instead of prosecuting gay people for having sex, for giving blood, and just simply existing, they are now trying to make them straight.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 18:02
 
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