Singapore authorities have arrested three LGBT rights protesters for taking part in a rare protest. According to local media, they were triggered by the government’s alleged mistreatment of a transgender student.
Singapore is notorious for its tight regulations. The city-state has tough laws against public protests. Singapore law requires all protest organizers to register for a permit to protest with the police. Speakers Corner at Hong Lim Park is the only special venue for protests in Singapore. Applications for permits to protests are currently on hold due to the Covid pandemic.
Activists post statement online
Initially, there were five people demonstrating outside the education ministry on Tuesday. Their protest was over the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. They were seen waving placards that read “trans students will not be erased” and “#Fix schools, not students”.
Two in the group had departed of their own violation. Online videos show the arrest of the remaining three and authorities escorting them into a police vehicle.
The names of two of the protesters are Lune Loh and Elijah Tay. This is according to an online statement calling for Education Minister Lawrence Wong to “end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students by MOE schools.”
“We are a group of students and supporters staging a peaceful demonstration at 5 pm today,” the statement said. “The protest is outside the Ministry of Education (MOE) at Buona Vista. We call on Minister Lawrence Wong to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students by MOE schools. We must uphold the fundamental right of all students to education within safe and supportive school life.”
The statement also listed what it alleged were examples of the mistreatment of queer students. It includes firstly, controlling what students wear. Secondly, dictating gender-specific hairstyles. Thirdly, incorporating conversion therapy into school counselling sessions. Lastly, refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Following the publishing of the post the protests occurred.
Government welcomes LGBT but not protests
While the government has consistently said LGBT people are valued members of society, rights groups say this stance is not reflected in official policies and laws.