I was amused to see two side-by-side stories on the front page of the News’ Friday paper. First “Yale, Singapore move forward with college” announcing the finalization of the Yale-NUS partnership and next to it “Yalies plan to protest minister.” What might seem mundane in New Haven is nothing less than illegal in Singapore. Not only would protests not be allowed, but those LBQT students who are Singaporean citizens would be blacklisted and prevented from obtaining certain jobs such as teaching in public schools. If an LBQT student group were even allowed to exist in the first place, then those males found to engage in homosexual intercourse or “acts of indecency” would be subject to arrest among other punishments. Good thing Yale has all those clauses in its agreement that allow it to pull out from an unpleasant situation; unfortunately, Singaporeans can’t do the same. On Thursday I was on campus attending a talk by an English professor about gender and discourse who said, “It’s weird for me to hear a rights discourse in Singapore, because we have no rights.” I wish I could believe that it’s only an April Fools’ joke.
The writer is a Fulbright Fellow studying in Singapore and a visiting scholar at NUS’s Asia Research Institute.