Singapore's non-official gay group, People Like Us (PLU), will meet on Thursday, July 10, to discuss its objectives and whether a second application should be made to register itself as an official society after their initial application was turned down in 1997.
The move comes after Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong told Time magazine that Singapore has quietly lifted the ban on recruiting homosexuals in "sensitive positions" in the civil service. Follow-up articles in the local press has however reported that the government will not permitted gay parades or legalise gay sex as PM Goh said that the policies are reflective of the values of the majority of its population.
The Prime Minister's comments mark the first time any Singapore minister has initiated the subject of homosexuality.
The meeting to be held at The Substation was initiated by Alex Au, fondly dubbed "Singapore's pioneer gay activist" by the local media, who suggested that PLU re-applies to be a registered society after their initial application and subsequent appeals were turned down in 1997. As recently as 2000, the police had rejected the group's application to hold a forum to discuss gay issues in Singapore.
In an email post on the Singapore Gay News List or more commonly known as Signel, list moderator Alex Au who is also one of the 10 original sponsors, wrote that the aim of the meeting is to "have a brief discussion about why it's important to have a registered society representing our community, the process and our mission objectives."
He hopes to have at least 100 people, instead of the minimum of 10 names needed, put their names and other personal information in the application to the Register of Societies.
Some have however expressed scepticism of PLU's intentions, arguing that the immediate plan of re-applying to have PLU registered "will only politicise the issue further " and warned that the group's efforts may backfire should there be a backlash from the public.
Undaunted, many in the gay community have expressed their support for PLU to be re-registered and have urged others to do the same.
"Even if there is a backlash, we have to try. For the first time, we've been acknowledged in the government - this acknowledgement will to a greater extent influence public sentiment. In Singapore, as long as the government is okay with it, people will learn to be okay with it. I know this will hold true in the issue of homosexuality. So if you, as a GLBT person, are not going to take up the challenge now, then forever hold your peace, because YOU chose to give up that right." Eileena Lee, 32, list owner of RedQuEEn!, an Internet news list for queer women in Singapore, told Fridae.
In an attempt to allay the fear some individuals may feel about submitting their names and personal information to sponsor the application, Au wrote on Signel: "After all, consider this: 10 people signed up for the first PLU application that was rejected. How many were arrested? How many had their lives disrupted? How many were outed? Had their names and faces in the press? None. You don't even know today, who they were. So whether or not the second application gets through, what risk does a signatory face? None but his own fears. But on the other hand, think of the impact we'll have if we have a 100 names!"
People Like Us Re-founding meeting
Thursday, 10 July 2003, 7pm
The Blue Room
Ground floor, The Substation, Armenian Street
Everyone is welcome regardless of sexual orientation.