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Singapore students hit out at school for disinviting LGBT speaker

Singapore students hit out at school for disinviting LGBT speaker

Pink Dot 2018

A student organisation in Singapore has hit out at a school for rescinding an LGBTI activist’s invitation to speak at a TEDxYouth event.

In a statement released on Facebook, the Community for Advocacy and Political Education (CAPE) expressed ‘disappointment’ with comments made by Leonard Tan, Vice Principal of Saint Joseph’s Institution.

Rachel Yeo, a Research and Advocacy Director at Singapore’s Inter-University LGBT Network (IULN), had been due to give a TEDxYouth talk at the school earlier this month, but was told a day before that she would not be permitted to speak.

Contention about activism

Mr. Tan justified the decision to disinvite Ms Yeo by pointing to her being an advocate for the LGBT issue, elaborating that ‘any form of activism is socially divisive.’

In response, CAPE’s statement said ‘Activism is not in and of itself divisive; instead, it exposed and reveals the inequalities and injustices that lurk beneath the facade of stability and harmony.’

Coordinator of CAPE Carol Yuen told GSN: ‘There is a sometimes a tendency to stick with the status quo, to avoid challenges to norms and discussion on controversial issues.

‘There is a misinformed perception among many in Singapore of activism being disruptive, and activists being trouble makers, and this may be why an LGBT activist was so conveniently dropped. On the contrary, activists have helped society think about so many important issues and channeled the voices of the marginalized.

‘I hope this controversy helps people see how activism is important for our society.’

Growing LGBTI awareness in Singapore

This comes at a time while LGBTI activism is gaining increased momentum in Singapore.

On 21 July Singapore’s main LGBTI event, Pink Dot, issued 10 declarations calling for progress on LGBTI issues in the island nation.

The event, which was attended by thousands of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents decked out in pink, stated that it was time for the government to repeal S377A, a piece of legislation that effectively criminalises gay men by banning sex between men.

This month also saw Lee Huan Wu, the grandson of late prime minister and Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, publicly announcing he was gay.