This news clip was broadcast over Channel News Asia on 13 January 2006. Non-profit group gets grant to promote 'healthy gender identity' By Pearl Forss Focus groups to help gays and lesbians understand their sexual identity are just one of the things that newly set up Liberty League plans to put in place. The non-profit organisation has received a S$100,000 grant from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. Liberty League says it is the first community service group of its kind in Singapore. Its mission is to promote gender and sexual health for the individual, family and society. To achieve this, it will conduct sexuality talks in schools. It will also work with organisations such as the Girls' Brigade to educate teenagers on sexuality and biology. The group will address issues related to romantic relationships, be they heterosexual or otherwise. It says another important aspect of its work is focus groups for gays, lesbians and transsexuals who are grappling with their gender identities. Currently, 70 percent of those it works with fall into this category. There will also be support groups for parents of homosexuals. Said Leslie Lung, founder and executive director of the Liberty League, "This is very much based on the Alcoholic Anonymous self-help principles. So people come; it's an environment that is friendly, warm, based on friendship, encouraging people to take small steps to talk about the issues, recognize why they are doing certain things, find resolutions." Does it mean that Liberty League champions gay and lesbian rights? Leslie Lung explained, "We champion human rights really. It's about people being able to say, I'm human and sexual orientation is so wide. Being gay and lesbian is part of it; coming out of it is part of it as well." In a conservative society like Singapore, the league's work can be expected to be controversial. But the NVPC's S$100,000 start-up grant has helped given the low-profile group a public platform for its work. The money comes from the Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports; a ministry official also sits on the panel that approves the grants. Said Tan Chee Koon, chief executive officer of the NVPC, "Among teenagers, there are some who are confused about sexuality issues, and do need to seek clarification and help to work them through their confusion." She added, "They need to go to some non-threatening parties to talk about their concerns." Asked about the nature of the group's work, and those it will be working with, Mrs Tan says the NVPC is all for work that benefits the community. She said, "We don't sit in judgment on this score but of course it must be for the public good. It must benefit the community; it must be about good works. But if somebody in this case seeks to go out to affirm gender -- in their case healthy sexuality and gender affirmation -- we are neutral on that score." Mrs Tan added, "When I look at the grant, we are like social investors that invest in non-profit initiatives, which if they prove to be successful, the outcome is that lives are rebuilt, needs are met, volunteers are raised and community resources mobilised." Liberty League will be officially launched on 25 January.
Epilogue: Liberty League announced on its website that it would be closing for good in December 2014. Links: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20101231-255785.html http://www.libertyleague.com.sg/home.php http://www.fridae.asia/gay-news/2006/01/17/1559.singapore-government-awards-s-100000-grant-to-group-with-ex-gay-affiliation http://www.fridae.asia/gay-news/2006/01/20/1562.why-fund-a-disguised-religious-cause-plu-demands-answers http://www.yawningbread.org/apdx_2006/imp-252.htm