If you support the freedom to love, why aren’t you supporting freedom of speech?

By AL

Hey gays (and straight allies), where were you in the #freeAmosYee protest today?

There were 28,000 of you at Pink Dot this year, but only 500 people turned up at the Amos Yee protest. You said you’ll fight — no, celebrate — the freedom to love, because it is a fundamental human right, but why is freedom of speech any different? Is it not on the same grounds of human rights too?

Granted, we’re in Singapore. Not being a part of the majority, aka the status quo, usually means you’re shunned in our society. But hey, us LGBTQ folks are also part of said shunned minority. This is why it is disappointing that no visible LGBTQ spokesperson or organisation showed up in solidarity for the poor 16 year old. You may not agree with everything he says, but let me remind you that he is an ardent supporter of homosexuality, challenging fundamentalist religious groups to take a look at their Scriptures again and not to pick and choose their verses as they please, despite him being straight.

I understand that we have problems of our own, like trying to convince the government to repeal the archaic Section 377A penal code, and creating spaces where we are safe from bigots praying the gay away. But fighting for human rights should not be a race, nor should it feel like we’re spreading ourselves thin when we have so many problems to call out. Look at Hong Kong; look at Taiwan. Showing support and solidarity for our minority voices is just as good as having our straight friends lighting up the pink torches in our little dance party — it helps make a stand. You are part of a number of people who are dissatisfied with the way PAP and Lee Hsien Loong has handled the case, and also a growing number of people dissatisfied with the PAP policies in general. Even if it pushes us further into the sidelines of the Singaporean status quo, we could contribute to that critical mass that tips over the power of the ruling coalition.

The Stonewall riots that happened in the 1960s mean something much bigger now that USA has legalised gay marriage in every state. Whenever we’re ready to get out of our safe space and stand erect in front of unfair governance, and believe me I know you guys are capable of being erect not just in front of your partners, we can make a change for the better.