NUS Law Prof launches book on Gay movement in Singapore

SINGAPORE — What are the legal restrictions and political norms that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community? How did they organise themselves and engage the state, eventually organising the first public gay rally, Pink Dot, in 2009?

These are the themes examined in a new book by law professor Lynette Chua from the National University of Singapore (NUS) on the LGBT movement. Launched yesterday, the 168-page volume was based on in-depth interviews with gay activists here and government statements and media reports on the issue. Called Mobilizing Gay Singapore, it looks at the LGBT movement’s emergence, development and strategies, and how the roles of law and rights play out in the process.

Speaking to TODAY at the book launch at the NUS Centre for Asian Legal Studies at the Faculty of Law, Assistant Professor Chua said the book is aimed at trying to understand the social-legal history of the movement. The book, she said, could have a reflective impact on activists regarding their roles and could be informative for those who are not knowledgeable about the movement. The book was written in her personal capacity as a social-legal scholar and does not represent NUS’ views, she said.

During the panel discussion at the launch with Asst Prof Chua, NUS law professor Michael Hor and NUS Department of Sociology Associate Prof Daniel Goh, an audience member asked how local political parties could take a stronger stand on the LGBT movement.

In response, Assoc Prof Goh said political parties have to be pragmatic to remain in the game and cannot be the vanguard of a movement that is about minority rights.

Added Asst Prof Chua: “Like it or not, many of the activists believe the desire for a state of equal rights for LGBT or legal reform will not come from the opposition party … The Opposition is simply too weak just trying to get a foothold in local politics.”

ASHLEY CHIA

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