Singapore — Singapore, along with the rest of the world, found out over social media on the afternoon of Friday (May 25) about the wedding of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s nephew Li Huanwu to his boyfriend Heng Yirui at a reserve in Cape Town, South Africa, where same-sex marriages were legalised in 2006.
When the South China Morning Post (SCMP) asked Li Huanwu’s father Lee Hsien Yang — the younger brother of PM Lee and second son of Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew — about his son’s wedding, Lee Hsien Yang replied,
“I believe my father would have been thrilled to know this.”
As for Mr Li, he told SCMP, “I’ll echo my comment I made to Pink Dot – today would have been unimaginable to us growing up. We are overjoyed to share this occasion in the glowing company of friends and family.”
Started in 2009, Pink Dot is the yearly event that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Singapore.
While news sites such as TISG, Yahoo Singapore and mothership.sg carried the story on Friday night, the mainstream media outlets made no mention of the union of Mr Li, who is the vice-president of a tech company, and veterinarian Dr Heng.
SCMP also reports that in mainland China, posts about Mr Li and Dr Heng’s wedding were found on social media app WeChat to a generally positive response from netizens who have wished the couple well.
Last week, Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage, leading many to wonder when other nations in the region would follow suit.
In June 2018, Mr Li came out publicly as a member of the LGBT community when Dr Heng and him were featured in the campaign called “Out in Singapore”, whose goal was to encourage acceptance and support for “LGBTQ persons who wish to come out to family, friends, and peers in the community.”
The exact date of the couple’s nuptials is unknown, since Mr Li had already put up a May 17 Facebook post containing photos from a Singapore Airlines flight wherein the couple were served cake and champagne along with a note that read: “Singapore Airlines is pleased to join you on your special day.”
It is possible that Mr Li and Dr Heng were married some time ago, but only announced it over social media last weekend.
While same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Singapore under the country’s Penal Code Section 377A, Lee Kuan Yew was not against it.
He wrote in his book “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”, which was published in 2011, that homosexuality was “not a lifestyle”.
“You can read the books you want, all the articles. You know that there’s a genetic difference. They are born that way and that’s that. So if two men or two women are that way, just leave them alone.”
In 2007, Singapore’s founding prime minister had said, “This business of homosexuality. It raises tempers all over the world, and even in America. If in fact it is true, and I’ve asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual because that is the nature of genetic random transmission of genes, you can’t help it. So, why should we criminalise it?
“But there is such a strong inhibition in all societies – Christianity, Islam, even the Hindu, Chinese societies. And we’re now confronted with a persisting aberration, but is it an aberration? It’s a genetic variation.
So what do we do? I think we pragmatically adjust…”/ TISG