Archive of The Straits Times article, “Bid to open dialogue on gays in society” (6 May 2000)

Homosexual applies for permit to
hold public forum on how gays fit
into the Singapore 21 vision of an
ideal society

By LYDIA LIM

A BUSINESSMAN hopes to hold
Singapore’s first public forum on gays
and lesbians on the last Sunday of this
month.

Mr Alex Au, 47, has applied to the
Public Entertainment Licensing Unit
(Pelu) for a permit to hold the event
titled “Gays and lesbians within
Singapore 21″.

He hopes this forum will help people
discuss where gays and lesbians stand
in relation to Singapore 21, a national
vision of the ideal Singaporean society.

The vision contains five key ideas —
every Singaporean matters, strong
families, opportunities for all, the
Singapore heartbeat and active citizens.

“What does ‘strong families’ mean when
a son or daughter, uncle or aunt, is
gay?” asked Mr Au in a press statement
sent to the media yesterday. “How do
we expect gay Singaporeans to feel
passionately about the country if they
feel discriminated against?”

He noted that the Singapore 21 concept
encouraged people to rethink many
assumptions in society.

“I personally think that this is one area
that would benefit from more dialogue,”
he said in a telephone interview with
The Straits Times.

Under the law, sodomy is considered an
unnatural sex act and those convicted of
unnatural sex can be sentenced to life
imprisonment.

Pelu confirmed that the businessman
had applied for a licence on Wednesday
and said an application could take up to
three weeks to process.

Mr Au, who is gay, is optimistic Pelu
will grant him a licence.

“I don’t see any reason why this forum
would jeopardise public order, so there
is no reason for them to turn down the
application,” he said.

Three years ago, he and a few others
tried to register a gay group called
People Like Us, but were turned down
by the Registry of Societies.

He hopes to draw about 120 people to
the forum, scheduled to be held at the
Substation, Armenian Street, on May 28
at 2:30 pm. Admission is free.

Speakers include Association of Women
for Action and Research president Dana
Lam, financial-industry executives
Kenneth Lau and Salmon Lee and law
undergraduate Cho Pei Lin.

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About groyn88

Ultraliberal advocate of universal human rights, justice and fair play.
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