To empower queer women towards greater involvement and presence in the community
Advocacy for LBTQ women's rights at CEDAW
Sayoni was at the United Nations in Geneva in October 2017 to bring Singapore LBTQ women's issues to the forefront. The CEDAW Committee heard our concerns and raised recommendations related to LBTQ women in their Concluding Observations for the Singapore government.
Sayoni is a Singapore-based feminist, volunteer-run organisation that works to uphold human rights protections for queer women, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. We organise and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics.

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One Sunday I had lunch with my uncle. We get along fairly well and I am out to him, but we are not at the stage where we have copious open free conversations about my relationship status or my partner. Anyhow, during lunch, it was just the two of us because my aunt was out of town. We were having a routine, run-of-the-mill conversation as usual (What are you ordering; how was your trip to Bangkok, how much did you pay for a massage; did you know that iceberg lettuce lowers blood sugar; the car is due for servicing etc)


We were talking about my job and how much I have been traveling around the region, and he asked me “So with you flying so much, what does Jean think?” That caught me off guard. I replied, “Yeah, she is OK with my traveling” while my brain processed my myriad feelings. I hadn’t expected that question, and least of all from one of my relatives. I felt happy, optimistic, touched / warmed, grateful…


For me, that simple question spoke volumes. Maybe I set my expectations too low but remembering Jean’s name would already score him points in my book. I would have been happy enough had he merely asked “How is Jean?” But his question was an acknowledgement of our relationship. And the recognition that our relationship, just like any other relationship, would also be subject to the demands and stresses of life. It was an abbreviated form of “How does your partner deal with your frequent traveling? How has it impacted your relationship?”


That really touched me. Since I started my current job about 6 months ago, various friends have asked “How’s Jean taking it?”, and bless their dear concerned hearts. But none of my family have asked, and I didn’t expect them to either. I have resigned myself to the fact that, save one or two sane individuals, the clan wouldn’t be able to accept my orientation, and I say that because the small percentage who are in on the secret don’t even talk about it. Now my uncle has (in my book) joined the ranks of the “one or two sane individuals”.


This little conversation was a paradigm shift for me. It made me realise that there is yet hope; that people’s minds can be changed; and that just because change happens so slowly as to be unnoticeable, doesn’t mean that it is not happening. I am the type who subscribes to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And When Tell, Tell Subtly and Indirectly. So from this incident I am cheered, encouraged and inspired. Cliched as it sounds, sometimes we just have to do our best, and let God do the rest.


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