Singapore's only gay advocacy group, People Like Us (PLU), has learnt yesterday that its appeal to register the group has been turned down without any reason provided. This comes after they had their second application rejected by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in late March 2004.
PLU founder Dr Russell Heng told Fridae that despite the appeal being rejected, the group had received more media mileage and has also made a "point to the government and the public that the gay issue will not go away."
Pioneer gay activist, Alex Au, told Fridae in an email that the rejection of the appeal bolsters his belief that "ideologically, nothing has changed."
He added: "Everything we have seen, passed off as "loosening up," or letting creativity reign, is nothing but a public relations exercise to (a) counter the worldwide perception of Singapore as a sterile, authoritarian, flog-happy place and (b) to hoodwink more foreign talent to come to Singapore to contribute economically.
"The refusal again to register PLU and the rejection - without addressing the substance of the arguments that PLU has made (no different from 1997) - raises serious doubts about any claim about freeing up Singapore, and makes an utter mockery of Goh Chok Tong's words about gay civil servants. The hollowness of it all is ringing loud and clear.
"The government neither sees the benefits of a truly liberal social and political culture nor will it contemplate a future involving one. And as many have pointed out, in an ever-changing world, a rigid, authoritarian, conformist society is doomed to lag behind and fail... like East Germany, the Soviet Union, like Burma, like so many Arab
The group's second application earlier this year was refused registration under the Societies Act. In a letter dated 31 March 2004, "the ROS said, '...the registration of the proposed society is not approved under Sections 4(2)(b) and 4(2)(d) of the Societies Act."
Sections 4(2) states: "The Registrar shall refuse to register a society if he is satisfied that (b) the society is likely to be used for unlawful purposes or for purposes prejudicial to public peace, welfare or good order in Singapore; (d) it would be contrary to the national interest for the society to be registered People Like Us has written to the ROS asking him to provide details of how he arrived at the finding that we could be for unlawful purposes, prejudicial to public peace, and contrary to the national interest."