When oppressors feel oppressed

Singapore’s top court recently ruled that it was constitutional for a minority group to be singled out and criminalised. This ruling means that section 377A of the Penal Code will be retained, and that every sexually active gay man is a criminal yet to be arrested (because of some “Scout’s honour” promise that the law won’t be enforced).

It also means that discrimination against LGBTQ people remain enshrined in our legislation, legitimising a whole host of other homophobic policies and mindsets that flourish in aspects of life in Singapore.

Yet conservatives would have us believe that it is them who are the victims here.

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On Pink Dot and confrontations

A pink dress, with white polkadots, hangs in my cupboard at home. I bought it over a month ago, and even got it slightly altered to fit me better. I bought it before the run-up to Pink Dot exploded into a culture war of pink and white and red, and people who would never actually be personally affected by other people’s freedom to love decided that it was an affront to them and their religion for other human beings to strive for equal rights.

The dress is hanging in my cupboard at home while my friends are no doubt already gathered (or gathering – my friends aren’t always known for punctuality) in a sea of pink at Hong Lim Park because I am, once again, missing Pink Dot.

Since 2010 – which is when I first heard of and wanted to attend Pink Dot – I have only succeeded in being there once, in 2011. It was wonderful, friends, lovers and multi-generational families packed into the little park in the middle of the city. I’ve wanted to join in on another Pink Dot, but never quite made it because I always ended up, somehow or other, out of Singapore. This year is no different: despite all the anticipation and planning I am sitting here in Scotland, having had to catch a last-minute flight out to be with family.

Pink Dot is by no means a perfect event or movement. There is plenty that needs to be said about diversity and differences in experiences – straight or queer – in Singapore and around the world. But I still believe that Pink Dot is worth supporting, and it’s a belief that has been further reinforced by the outpouring of hatred and fear-mongering that has come from religious conservatives like Lawrence Khong and Ustaz Noor Deros.

It’s not a huge surprise. We’ve known for ages that Khong spends more time obsessing over gay sex than even gay people do. His anger, vomited all over obliging newspaper opinion pages, is fast getting repetitive and boring, especially to those who have never subscribed to as narrow an understanding of family as he.

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Same-sex marriage in Britain and the trans community

I watched the debate and voting of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the Westminster Parliament with envy. As the rainbow flag flew proudly over the main building of Cardiff University, I wished for the same to happen in my home country of Singapore.

The first same-sex marriage ceremonies will be taking place next summer. It’s a great step forward for the United Kingdom as a whole. But this move isn’t as inclusive as we would generally believe it to be.

Just before I left Cardiff I had the opportunity to meet and then carry out a phone interview with Jenny-Anne Bishop, a trans woman who has been heavily involved in the campaign for trans rights for over a decade.

Unique at Cardiff Mardi Gras
Jenny-Anne Bishop (far right) at the Unique booth at Cardiff Mardi Gras.

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