The love story and marriage of Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson, Li Huanwu, is among foreign publication South China Morning Post’s top stories of 2019.
Known widely as Hong Kong’s newspaper of record, SCMP is an English-language news publication founded in 1903 that is now owned by the Alibaba Group. It has a comprehensive international current affairs coverage and also comments extensively on socio-political developments in Singapore.
SCMP’s coverage of Li Huanwu’s marriage is its seventh top story of the year. The only other story pertaining to Singapore among its top 10 stories is an article covering the comments of Huanwu’s uncle, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on the protests in Hong Kong.
Huanwu married his longtime boyfriend Heng Yirui in an intimate ceremony in South Africa on May 24. Photos from the wedding, which was attended by Huanwu’s father Lee Hsien Yang, mother Lee Suet Fern, elder brother Li Shengwu and younger brother Li Shaowu, went viral and made headlines around the world. Mainstream media outlets in Singapore, however, conspicuously steered clear of the story.
Huanwu came out of the closet last year, when he and Heng posed for portraits with their arms around one another for the Out In Singapore platform. Huanwu, 31, works as a general manager, while his 27-year-old partner is a fellow Singaporean who works as a veterinarian.
In the past, Huanwu had urged Singaporeans to support Pink Dot – an annual event in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Singapore.
When he was approached for comment on his nuptials, 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.”
His father, Lee Hsien Yang, told the publication: “I believe my father would have been thrilled to know this.”
The late Lee Kuan Yew was supportive of people in same-sex relationships in Singapore. He consistently stated in interviews his belief that homosexuality is a genetic variance and that homosexuals should not be persecuted.
In perhaps his most famous interview on the topic, Lee frankly shared his thoughts on homosexuality at a PAP Youth Wing event in 2007:
“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…”