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IntroductionEdit

IndigNation 2007, Singapore’s third LGBT pride season came around again in August 2007. As in past years, it was organised by People Like Us (PLU) and packed with exhibitions, talks, poetry, film, outdoor and social events. It was a time to renew the LGBT community's confidence in themselves.

All IndigNation events were open to the public, and everyone, straight, gay or transgender, were welcome. If there were any limitations, e.g. minimum age for entry as required by the licence from the authorities, they were clearly stated in the announcement for the particular event.

Likewise, all events were free unless otherwise stated in the pre-event advertising blurb.

Indignation events took place at various venues: 72-13, Free Community Church, PitchBlack Cafe, Action Theatre, etc. The advertisement for each event stated this clearly.

SponsorsEdit

Indig07Sponsors

PLU thanked the following sponsors on the IndigNation 2007 event website:

  • Venue sponsor - 72-13
  • Media sponsor - Fridae.com
  • Supporting sponsor - ajaxx63 (available at www.SportsmenAsia.com)
  • Individual sponsors - David K, Isaac Lee, Rahman, C.S. Lim


Calendar of eventsEdit

Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 7:30pm - Opening reception. All were welcome.

1 to 15 August 2007 - Idiosyncracies. An art exhibition.

1 to 15 August 2007 - Kissing. This photo exhibition was banned by the MDA. See Kiss and tell instead. Review of Kissing

Thursday, 2 August 2007, 8pm - Paper Dolls. Film (Hebrew/English/Tagalog with English subtitles). The event was cancelled.

Friday, 3 August 2007, 7:30pm - Walking out from the shadow. The success stories of 3 transsexuals.

Saturday, 4 August 2007, 3pm - Bifocal. A forum on bisexuality.

Saturday, 4 August 2007, 3pm - My Brother Nikhil. Film (Hindi with English subtitles).

Saturday, 4 August 2007, 7:30pm - Does likeness matter? (Tong bu tong). Queer-themed Chinese writing. A forum in Mandarin.

Sunday, 5 August 2007, 3pm - Lost and found. A forum for youth by youth.

Sunday, 5 August 2007, 7:30pm - Tall tales and short stories. A talk by Ovidia Yu and Ng Yi-Sheng.

Monday, 6 August 2007, 7:30pm - Relationship myths. A talk by Anj Ho.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 7:30pm - Sexual orientation in international law: the case of Asia.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 7:30pm - Troy Perry, My Life Story. A talk by Rev. Troy Perry.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 8pm - The Laramie Project. Film (English). The event was cancelled.

Thursday, 9 August 2007, 4:30pm - In the pink. This picnic event was cancelled (see report below).

Thursday, 9 August 2007, 8pm - Paper Dolls (repeat). Film (Hebrew/English/Tagalog with English subtitles). The event was cancelled.

Friday, 10 August 2007, 7:30pm - “Wei Ming is a Chao Ah Kua”. Forum: Equality and sexuality in the Singapore school.

Saturday, 11 August 2007, participants to meet at 8:30am - The pink run. Morning 5km Walk/Run. This event was cancelled (see report below).

Saturday, 11 August 2007, 11am - Basketball 3-3 challenge. Register with Adlus for limited slots.

Saturday, 11 August 2007, 2pm - Adlus Singapore hunt. A fun way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, 11 August 2007 9:30pm - Adlus 8th anniversary bash. Join the Adlus boys and girls as they celebrate.

Saturday, 11 August 2007, 3pm - Hitting (on) Women. A new play by Ovidia Yu.

Sunday, 12 August 2007, 3pm - Your relationships and you. A forum cum workshop.

Sunday, 12 August 2007, 7:30pm - ContraDiction. Poetry and more.

Monday, 13 August 2007, 7:30pm - Contending with consent. A talk - a legal case study from Hong Kong.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 8:00pm - Voices. Chinese songs for us.

BifocalEdit

Indig07Bifocal

Date: Saturday, 4 August 2007

Time: 3pm to 5:30pm

Venue: 72-13

Organised by Sayoni

Advertisement:

"This ground-breaking event will cover issues that bisexuals face every day in coming out, relationships and finding their own space within the queer community. Can bisexuals ever be monogamous? Are bisexuals in straight relationships traitors to the GLBT community? Fearless and unshy of controversy, this forum is for anyone who has once asked these questions."

Sexual Orientation in International Law: The Case of AsiaEdit

The police rejected PLU's application for a permit for Prof. Douglas Sanders to deliver a talk during IndigNation 2007 in August on the history of anti-gay legislation, including Section 377 in its various forms, around the world enacted by the British[1],[2]. PAP MP Michael Palmer raised the question of the ban in parliament and Home Affairs Minister Ho Peng Kee gave the following reply[3]:

Ho Peng Kee gives reasons for banning Douglas Sanders' talk on Section 377A in 200704:21

Ho Peng Kee gives reasons for banning Douglas Sanders' talk on Section 377A in 2007


In the end, the lecture was given by Russell Heng and Alex Au in Douglas Sanders' place[4] on Tuesday, 7 August 2007 during the IndigNation 2007 event entitled, " Sexual orientation in international law: the case of Asia.":

Sexual orientation in international law the case of Asia (Part 1)09:40

Sexual orientation in international law the case of Asia (Part 1)


ReviewEdit

By Alex Au

Despite the absence of Prof. Douglas Sanders, the event went on as scheduled. Russell Heng and Alex Au jointly paraphrased a recent paper by Douglas Sanders, “377 - and the unnatural afterlife of British colonialism”.

In this paper, Sanders traced the origins of this law to King Henry VIII’s campaign to disestablish the Roman Catholic Church and appropriate church properties in England. A major turning point came in the 18th century with the idea of codification. This eventually resulted in the Indian Penal Code of 1861. Its section 377 spread far and wide to other British colonies.

Section 377A arose quite separately from the Labouchere amendment in the 1880s, enacted by the UK Parliament. It was never incorporated in the Indian Penal Code, but in 1938, it was added to the statutes of Singapore and Malaya.

Sanders noted that throughout the centures, enforcement of laws against homosexual sex was always rare, except for short periods here and there. The paper then discussed some of the more recent events in Australia, India and elsewhere, where the law has been challenged.

During Q&A, a question from the floor asked why Sanders didn’t go into detail with respect to countries such as Korea even though he made a passing mention of social and legal challenges there. Russell Heng, in response, made the point that “this is where the absence of Prof Sanders matters. If he were here, he would have been able to answer your question in some detail, and we would have learnt something from him.”

Sanders chose to stay away from Singapore after the police withdraw the permit they had earlier approved for this lecture. The approval was given in mid July, but after controversy broke out over a similar lecture Sanders was to give at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the police cancelled it. The immigration department also told the organiser that they would treat the application for a Professional Visit Pass as “cancelled”, meaning they would not make a decision on it.

In the middle part of the evening’s proceedings, Miak Siew was invited by the panel to give a report about the ban on the picnic to be held on 9 August at the Botanic Gardens. He explained the chronology of events starting from a phone call from someone there informing him to expect a letter.

In the thrid part, George Hwang joined the panel for a discussion about the prospects of repeal of 377A in Singapore (the government had earlier proposed repeal of Section 377). With much interaction from the floor, the discussion touched on various factors, such as the government’s concern about HIV - but not enough to do much about it - and the influence of the Christian rightwing.

Tall Tales and Short StoriesEdit

ReviewEdit

Ovidia Yu presented a reading of “Pierced Years” . It’s a short story set at a moment when there’s a death in a family. Old friends rally around, and while there may be a little friction, what with different personalities involved, eventually things resolve with understanding and not a little good humour.

Ng Yi-Sheng was not allowed by the Media Devlopment Authority (MDA) to present his work “Lee Low Tar”. Instead he gave a talk about why he wrote what he wrote and his feelings about the MDA’s decision.

There was a lively Q&A and much light-hearted banter.

There were some 70 - 80 in the audience.

There was much spontaneity during Ng Yi-Sheng’s talk, and Teng Qian Xi came up to kiss his koala hand puppet.

1 Response to “Review: Tall tales and short stories”

Ng Yi-Sheng Aug 16th, 2007 at 2:59 am Ovidia’s work was entitled “Pierced Years”, and it wasn’t a play - it’s a short story. Alex and I helped out by reading bits of the dialogue.

VoicesEdit

Tin gave a lovely evening of Chinese and English songs, with the help of Shawn on the keyboard and guests Henry, Shirlene and Kim. It took a while before the 50-strong audience warmed up, but when they did, they joined in heartily.

Hitting (on) WomenEdit

Indig07HittingOnWomen

Date: Saturday, 11 August 2007

Time: 3pm

Venue: Action Theatre

Organised by Action Theatre

Advertisement:

"A special matinee performance of the play Hitting (On) Women, by award-winning playwright Ovidia Yu, to mark Indignation 2007. Voted Best New Play at Theatre Idols 2007, this hard-hitting, humourous and heartfelt piece will show you a side to women you’ve never seen before…

Special discounts for members of Signel and Sayoni, for tickets ordered before 27 July 2007. More information on purchasing these discounted tickets available on the Signel and Sayoni lists."

Responses:

1) theatregoer Aug 2nd, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Although there is no more discount given, those interested in attending the play can purchase their tickets directly from SISTIC.

2) NOTES FROM SERANGOON ROAD Pingback on Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:53 am

(This comment was from filmmaker Tan Pin Pin who plugged the event on her blog [5] which included a photo of Ovidia Yu):

Indig07TanPinPinOvidiaYu


In the PinkEdit

Main article: Pink Picnic

Date: Thursday, 9 August 2007

Time: 4:30pm till late

Venue: Symphony Lake, Botanic Gardens

Organised by Miak Siew

According to sources, Thio Li-Ann got wind of the event from PLU's website and alerted the National Parks Board, which resulted in its ban. The idea was for people to come to the picnic held on National Day picnic wearing something pink - it was both a colour representing sexual orientation as well as an amalgamation of Singapore's red and white. The complaint went to the police and even up to the Deputy Prime Minister's office. The Botanic Gardens was told to look out for anyone wearing pink, and if 5 or more persons gathered, the Gardens were call the police immediately because it would constitute an unlawful assembly. The organisers had no choice but to cancel the event.

The following update was published on the IndigNation 2007 event page on 5 August 2007:

"This event is cancelled.

“In the pink” - the proposed picnic on 9 August 2007 - is cancelled. See Report of what happened next and photos.

The organiser received a letter from the National Parks Board over the weekend denying permission for the use of the Botanic Gardens for what it called “organised gatherings… by interest groups to politicise their cause”.

The Board is clearly misinformed about the intention of “In the Pink”; it was meant as no more than a social event for friends from the community. But their misapprehension is not surprising, since anti-gay elements are constantly painting every gay activity as dangerous and subversive. We have reason to believe that the Board had been pushed to issuing their letter by such elements.

Never intending to make the picnic a politicised event in the first place, the organiser does not really want to do so now, even in the face of such provocation by the authorities. Thus, it is deemed wiser to cancel the event and issue this statement instead.

However, this does not mean individuals aren’t free to go with their friends and families to the Botanic Gardens on 9 August for their own private picnics. After all, it would be a sad day if the Botanic Gardens were to say that gay people can’t stroll or picnic on their grounds simply because they are gay. Or is that what they are saying?"

Before the cancellation, there wasn't much enthusiasm for the picnic, but now that the authorities had stepped in, lots of people wanted to go. An announcement that the event had been cancelled was made by PLU but people just used word of mouth to say that they would unofficially be going to have a private picnic with their friends at the Gardens dressed in pink...and thus, the (unofficial) Pink Picnic was born![6],[7]

An estimated total of 150 turned up, most wearing pink or carrying something pink, far more than the organiser had ever expected. Some came with their straight friends and families, and everyone had a lovely afternoon. The various groups were scattered around the grounds. “There were many straight families there too with their kids,” reported Jean Chong, “playing with frisbees and goofing around. Nobody batted an eyelid even when we were so obviously gay.” Undercover police officers were observed watching from a distance.

A video of the event was recorded by Roy Tan[8]:

In the pink - the (unofficial) Pink Picnic 200706:15

In the pink - the (unofficial) Pink Picnic 2007


Pink RunEdit

Indig07PinkRun002

Date: Saturday, 11 August 2007

Time: Meet at 8:30 am

Venue: Starting point to be advised

Organised by Dr. Ethan Lim of ADLUS.

Advertisement:

"Morning 5km Walk/ Run around Botanic Gardens and Cluny Road Area. Come wearing pink, the pinker the better!"

Early Saturday morning on 11 August 2007, just before the event started, would-be participants noticed about 10 plainclothes policemen lurking in the background. One of them, who identified himself as Kelvin Yeo, informed organiser Ethan Lim that the run would be considered an offence under the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Lim asked him to cite the specific section, but Yeo was unable to do so, saying instead that it would be considered an illegal assembly[9].

Indig07PinkRun

The following update was posted promptly on the PLU IndigNation event page that very morning at 8:45 am:

"The police told the organiser that the run was against the law. He cited the Miscellaneous Offences Act, and said something about it being an illegal assembly. The run was thus cancelled."

At some point, Ng Yi-Sheng, one of the runners, walked up to join Ethan Lim, to act as a witness to the conversation but was shooed away by the police. Since the police had declared it an illegal assembly, Ethan Lim told Kelvin Yeo he would cancel the Pink Run, "but as individuals, they can run, right?"

Both Yeo and a female officer beside him replied affirmatively. Lim then went back to the main group and told them what had transpired. The Pink Run was officially cancelled, but as individuals, they could run as they pleased. All 39 present elected to do so. They left their bags and other belongings with a volunteer whose role was to watch over them, and started off in staggered subgroups. Meanwhile, the police continued filming, and didn't stop until the entire group had come back to the starting point about half an hour later.

As one can see from the photo, many wore pink. In fact, they had printed more T-shirts than they needed, so Ethan Lim gave one to Kelvin Yeo as a souvenir.

ReviewEdit

By Alex Au[10]

After the National Parks Board told us that we could not run at Botanic Gardens, it was decided to change the venue of the run. At first, the roads around the Botanic Gardens were considered, but from previous times, it was felt to be somewhat unsafe for a large group of joggers as there were many blind spots.

A new route along the Singapore river was chosen because 72-13 was the venue for most of the IndigNation events, it was more scenic and did not pose any logistical or safety problems.

The participants started arriving at 72-13 from around 8 a.m. onwards, with the organisers coming in at 8:15 with the goodie bags and T-shirts However, a few of the volunteers and runners were already dressed in pink.

Miak Siew immediately noticed a man in black polo loitering around and figured he was an undercover policeman.

As more of the runners trickled in, the police made themselves more visible, and one even started to film us.

Some of the runners could sense something amiss, but went on chatting.

Finally, Inspector Kelvin Yeo came up and identified himself and asked who the organiser was. Ethan Lim said he was and went off to speak to them in private.

From Lim’s account, he was told that the run would not be permitted because it would contravene the Miscellaneous Offences Act. However, when asked which item of the Act we were contravening, the police were unable to give an answer. However, Lim was told that the Pink Run would be considered an illegal gathering, since there were more than 4 people.

Lim told them that in that case, he would cancel the run, but he also asked if the individuals were free to do what they wanted. He was told yes. Then he further asked if the individuals were free to run on their own. He was told yes as well.

So after gathering the group and explaining to them that the run was cancelled, but they were free to run as individuals, everyone present elected to run.

Lim then gave Inspector Yeo a pink T-shirt, asking if the rest of the police there - there were about 10 of them, including some lurking in the shadows - if they wanted one as many extra pieces had been printed .

There was no official flag off, and the runners just started running at their own pace, with the police filming what transpired.

There were nearly 40 runners. It was a short run of about 4 km, and all finished in less than half an hour. After collecting their belongings, the runners headed off - some back home, some to have breakfast together nearby.

It was not until after most of the runners have left did the police leave.

ResponsesEdit

Jeremy C

Aug 18th, 2007 at 9:52 am

"risible. i know hardly to chortle or weep."

Wei Ming is a Chao Ah KuaEdit

Equality and Sexuality in the Singapore School, organised by Plume.sg, an LGBT youth support group and Plu.edu.sg, a gay teachers’ networking organisation. It was held on Friday, 10 August 2007 from: 7:30 - 9:30 pm at 72-13.

It was advertised thus:

"Growing up gay is easier these days - or is it? Come hear the experiences and stories of gay teenagers and the teachers who teach them. This forum will enable gay youths and teachers (both gay and gay-friendly) to articulate issues, concerns and challenges faced by today’s gay teenagers in the formal Singapore education system. It will also allow teachers to better understand the needs of gay students and to seek ways to better provide support and guidance for such students."

ReviewEdit

The turnout, at something like 110, was much more than the organiser expected for this session.

Indig07Weiming

The panel comprised 2 teachers and 5 young men who can freshly recall their teenage years.

The teachers spoke about what they observed as the schools’ ways of handling sexuality education. For example, in some schools, sexuality education was conducted at ’school assembly’ with a talk being given to a few hundred students at one go. Obviously, few pupils would be able to raise any “embarrassing” questions in such a setting. In another school, sex education was the responsibility of the IT specialist, who simply refered the pupils to look up certain websites.

In many instances, teachers were uncomfortable talking about sex. And schools generally had little expertise in dealing with pupils who were gay.

The 5 young men shared with the audience their experiences discovering themselves to be gay, in school environments that did little about peer homophobia and taunting, and often had teachers uneqipped to deal with the issue.

The Q&A was lively. A member of the audience spoke up to explain the existing sex education package - one where homosexuality was only discussed in the Sec 1 and 2 syllabi (and then 70% of the content was simply to reinforce the point that it was illegal). The subject is not mentioned again the the course material for the older students. Instead, for the Sec 3 and 4 students, the issue discussed is Gender Nonconformity. Does this lead to pupils confusing sexual orientation with the (quite different) issue of gender identity?

Other members of the audience recalled a school making a disciplinary issue of girls with short-cropped hair.

Much of the Q&A focussed on how schools could do a better job of it, by talking an approach coherent with the notion of tolerance and understanding of differences.

ResponsesEdit

Kelly

Aug 15th, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Hmm… no female teachers on the panel.

ADLUS Singapore huntEdit

Indig07ADLUSSporeHunt

The event, held on Saturday, 11 August 2007 from 2-9:30pm, was advertised thus:

"It’s scavenger hunt time, done Adlus-style! Be prepared to hunt for lots of quirky Adlus-centric stuff! Do register quickly, this event is limited to 15 teams of 4 each. (Hint: remember this hunt is all about GLBT DIVERSITY.. *hint hint*) So grab your 3 bestest friends and register!!"

Basketball 3-3 challengeEdit

Indig07Basketball33Challenge

Held on Saturday, 11 August 2007 from 11am to 1pm.

Venue: To be advised.

Organised by ADLUS.

Advertisement:

"Round-robin system of half-court 3-on-3 basketball challenge of 10mins matches. Register with Adlus for limited slots. Prize for top team."

ADLUS 8th anniversary bashEdit

Indig07ADLUSBash

The event, held on Saturday, 11 August 2007 from 9:30pm till late, was advertised thus:

"This is Adlus’ 8th Anniversary Bash! Once again the dudes and dudettes from Adlus will be there, in all their glorious shapes and sizes! Friends and supporters are all welcome! This year’s bash will be a good time to wind down and just let loose after a whole day of activity! So come on down and make it a night of fun and entertainment to end the day with a bang!"

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • IndigNation SG's Facebook page:[11].
  • IndigNation SG's Wordpress site:[12].
  • A playlist of videos of past IndigNation events on YouTube: [13].
  • IndigNation Sg's YouTube channel:[14].
  • PLU's IndigNation website. (now defunct)
  • The older IndigNation Facebook page:[15]. Its name was changed to plu.sg in July 2016 by Jun Pow so as not to clash with the official IndigNation SG Facebook page.

AcknowledgementsEdit

This article was compiled by Roy Tan.

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