Singapore protesters detained at tiny LGBT rights demo

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 27 2021 03:13 PM

Three LGBT rights protesters have been arrested in Singapore after taking part in a tiny, rare demonstration triggered by the government's alleged mistreatment of a transgender student, police said Wednesday. 

The tightly-regulated city-state has tough laws against public protests, which are usually not allowed without a police permit -- rarely granted -- regardless of the number attending.

Five people demonstrated outside the education ministry Tuesday over the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, waving placards that read "trans students will not be erased" and "#Fix schools not students."

The trigger for the demonstration was claims the ministry had blocked a transgender student from receiving hormone therapy, an allegation officials have denied. 

Three protesters, aged between 19 and 32, were arrested for taking part in a public assembly without a permit after ignoring warnings to disband, police said. 

They have been released on bail while investigations continue.

Protesters said LGBT students face a broad range of discrimination in the conservative country. 

This includes an insistence by schools that students' clothes and hair conform to gender "norms" and a refusal to use the appropriate pronouns requested by students.

"LGBTQ students in school aren't treated well," Averyn Thng, a 23-year-old activist who took part in the protest but was not arrested, told AFP.

"The government doesn't see us as important enough to be protected."

The education ministry had no immediate comment.

The city-state is frequently criticized over its record on gay rights, and sex between men remains illegal under a colonial-era law.

While the legislation is not actively enforced, officials argue that Singaporeans remain conservative at heart and oppose repealing it.

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