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Singapore activists protest anti-gay speaker at EU human rights seminar

Singapore activists protest anti-gay speaker at EU human rights seminar

Civil rights activists yesterday (4 December) protested a speech by an anti-gay law professor at a Human Rights Day seminar hosted by the EU Delegation to Singapore.

Several activists held a rainbow flag and placards reading ‘LGBT rights are human rights’ while Thio Li-ann delivered her speech.

Jean Chong, co-founder of LGBTI advocacy group Sayoni, told GSN that the silent protest ‘was to address the elephant in the room and civil society’s disagreement to the EU’s insistence on inviting Thio in spite of her views on LGBTQ people.’

In 2007, the former nominated MP argued in favor of the continued criminalization of adult consensual gay sex in Singapore.

‘Human rights are universal, like prohibitions against genocide. Demands for "homosexual rights" are the political claims of a narrow interest group masquerading as legal entitlements,’ she told parliament.

‘You cannot make a human wrong a human right.’

In a statement initiated by Sayoni and issued on Wednesday, 78 civil rights activists expressed concern over Thio’s inclusion and warned that ‘some may construe this invitation as an implicit endorsement of the speaker and her views by the organizer.’

Jean said, ‘We are profoundly disappointed to learn that the EU delegation of Singapore prefers to toe the state line and maintain status quo. Her views are contrary to the EU’s position on LGBTQ rights and her invitation calls into question EU’s efforts to protect and promote LGBTQ rights.

‘To date we have not received a formal reply or apology from the EU delegation of Singapore to explain their conduct and how it is consistent with its own stated role as a defender and advocate of human rights.’

In her same 2007 speech to parliament, Thio deliberately used graphic language to engender repugnance against gay men.

‘Anal-penetrative sex is inherently damaging to the body and a misuse of organs, like shoving a straw up your nose to drink,’ she said.

Thio also compared ‘unhygienic practices like rimming’ to recreational drug use.

‘Consent to harmful acts is no defence,’ she said.