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#57: Gay marriage is nice, but LGBT rights are much more than that

I know, I know, this issue is late. In my defence, since the last newsletter I’ve flown from Taipei to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Bangkok, Bangkok to Istanbul, Istanbul to Lviv, Lviv to London Stansted, and London Stansted to Glasgow. It’s a miracle I know what day it is at all.

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Being LGBT in Singapore

Congratulations are in order for Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson Li Huanwu and his partner Heng Yirui, who tied the knot in South Africa over the past week. This is and isn’t big news for Singapore—while it’s a moment of increased visibility for LGBT relationships (especially for people who wouldn’t usually be aware of such issues but do care about anything Lee Kuan Yew-related), it’s not going to bring any particularly fundamental change in terms of LGBT equality.

This has been brought into particularly sharp relief with the release of Sayoni’s report on the experience of queer women in Singapore. They found that queer women experience physical, psychological and sexual violence from family members and intimate partners, and can have trouble securing stable employment, but such instances of abuse and discrimination often go unreported for fear of further prejudice and stigma. And you must read Nabilah Husna’s piece on this report and what those of us who don’t have to live with this shit should be doing.

Drugs and death

K Shanmugam, Law and Home Affairs Minister and (apparently) the expertiest of drug experts, says that Singapore has to stand firm against “very strong coordinated efforts internationally, as well as within  Singapore, to change the Government's position on drugs, and to change public perception on drugs.”

Funny how everyone else is talking from a ideological positions, and only he’s approaching it from facts and science, even though he hasn’t produced evidence that the death penalty is more effective than any punishment in deterring crime.

Speaking of drugs and the death penalty, a Nigerian who has been on Singapore’s death row for two years was acquitted after the Court of Appeal found that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove he knew that there were drugs in the suitcase. Reading the article gave me the chills just thinking about how we could have hanged this person.

Sign this petition!

Fossil Free Yale-NUS and Students Taking Action for NUS to Divest (STAND) are petitioning for the Singapore delegation to support “a resolution requesting for an advisory opinion from the International  Court of Justice (ICJ) about states’ legal duties to protect life,  including human life, in light of the climate emergency.” They’ll be submitting this letter on 5 June.

Shameless plug

For those of you in Scotland (or Edinburgh in particular), I’ll be speaking about the need to balance fighting disinformation with protecting press freedom and freedom of expression (and POFMA, of course) at the University of Edinburgh on Thursday.

About the neighbours

Last Saturday, I attended a 160-table wedding banquet for same-sex marriages in Taipei. It was an absolutely wonderful celebration of love and joy, and validation of years of effort put in by Taiwanese LGBT activists. It was a real privilege for me to be able to be there, so I’m sharing one of my favourite shots from the event. I was lucky to be able to meet the sister and mother of one of the brides, so I could forward them such photos after! 🌈