Transcript of the BBC’s radio interview with Alex Au on “World Today” (8 May 2000)

SINGAPORE: Gay Rights Activist Seeks Police Permit TO Host Public Forum.

BBC London (English), The World Today,
0830 hours, 8.5.00, Item 13.
——
Take a stroll down Singapore’s Bugis Street and you might not be convinced
that the gay community is under pressure. Transvestites and transsexuals
have claimed the former red-light district as their own and they’re not shy
about flaunting themselves. But the fact is that homosexual acts are
outlawed in the city-state and if convicted of what’s termed “unnatural
sex”, one can face life imprisonment. Now a gay rights activist, Alex Au,
says he hopes that the Government will issue a permit allowing him to host
a public forum on the 28th on where homosexuals stand in Singapore society.
So, I asked Alex what life is like for gay people there:

Mr Au: “It isn’t as bad as one might imagine. Although the law exists, we
aren’t prosecuted as often as one might think. The authorities don’t use
the law very rigorously unless somebody complains. Then, of course, they
find themselves duty-bound to act on the complaint. But other than that, we
do what we can. There is still gay life here. Nonetheless. the law
reinforces the social climate of homophobia and discrimination and that’s
why we’re not too happy with it.”

Q: “Now, the idea behind the forum is to examine where gay and lesbian
Singaporeans stand in the Government’s Singapore 21 Programme. Let me ask
you what do you think about the Singapore 21 programme and, indeed, to tell
us what it is?”

Mr Au: “The Singapore 21 Programme came out last year. It’s an attempt to
put down some ideals, some visionary idelas for Singapore society to
progress towards. Among the visions for Singapore would be to keep the
family as the foundation for social stability, to develop some sense of
belonging to Singapore, the Singapore heartbeat, as they call it;
opportunities for all and the fact that every SIngaporean matters, even in
the new economy and globalisation and so forth. Well, these are fine
sentiments and I cannot agree with them more, but how does one translate
these ideas into new reality, especially vis-a-vis gay people in the
society and I think this forum is really needed for us to begin to examine
this.”

Q: “These is a real fear of persecution because of that law that you were
describing if one comes out as a gay person. So, will people attend a forum
like this?”

Mr Au: “Oh, I’m confident that there will be lots of people wanting to
attend the forum, both gay and straight. There are people in Singapore who
have been educated abroad, who have lived abroad and who feel, as I do,
that this is an issue that really needs to be addressed if we are to move
Singapore society forward.”

Q: “You were refused once before when you tried to register your group as a
society. Do you think that you will get your permit that’s needed to hold
this forum?”

Mr Au: “I am optimistic that I will get this permit because this is quite a
different situation. This is for a seminar, a little conference and these
are different regulations in this situation. These regulations pertain to
public order and so long as the police are satisfied that this event will
not, in any way, threaten public order, they should grant the permit, and I
don’t think this event will, in any way, disturb public peace.

Q: “What future do you hope, then for gay and lesbian people in Singapore?”

Mr Au: “Accepted by our peers here. Nothing special, just to be treated as
an ordinary Singaporean.”

………………………

Acknowledgements

This transcript was first archived on SiGNeL by Alex Au:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/signel/message/604

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About groyn88

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