Singapore—On Friday, May 24, Li Huanwu, grandson of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, married his boyfriend Heng Yirui in Cape Town, South Africa.
In South Africa, same-sex marriages were legalised more than a dozen years ago. Singapore, however, remains subject to Section 377A of the Penal Code which criminalizes sexual activity between two consenting adult males, a holdover from British colonial times.
Interestingly enough, in India last year, the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality by declaring Section 377 of their Penal Code unconstitutional.
Mr Li, the son of Lee Hsien Yang and nephew of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, came out publicly last year, posing for a portrait shot with Dr Heng for Out In Singapore, a platform that supports the LGBT community. The year before, Mr Li had already openly supported Pink Dot, the country’s annual LGBT event.
When Mr Li and Dr Heng first posted photos of their wedding over Facebook and Instagram late on Friday afternoon, several of the country’s independent news sites, including TISG, broke the news in articles that were widely read and shared over social media.
Since the photos posted were mainly of the couple, netizens wondered, however, if the couples’ families had attended the wedding, given the prominence of the Lee family in Singapore after all.
These questions were put to rest on Monday, when Mr Li posted a photo on his Facebook account, showing the couple with their respective families. Lee Hsien Yang, his wife, noted lawyer Lee Fern Suet, as well as their two other sons Li Shengwu and Li Shaowu, can be seen smiling beside Li Huanwu.
The photo has been widely shared since then, to an outpouring of well wishes and congratulations.
Not only did netizens congratulate the happy couple, but they also praised the families of both for supporting them, when in many instances, this has not been the case.
Some netizens actually wondered why PM Lee was not present at the wedding festivities. Given the problems between the Lee siblings, and the court cases filed against Lee Fern Suet and Li Shengwu, perhaps the Prime Minister’s absence is easy to understand.
As with many issues connected to LGBT rights, there were also some detractors, commenters who showed their disagreement to the union, but they were noticeably very quickly shut down by other commenters, as one netizen found out.
While the opinions of netizens may not always be reflective of society as a whole, it does beg the question as to whether or not the tide will turn in favour of repealing Section 377A, which many prominent Singaporeans seem to encourage, this would bring great relief to the LGBT community, many of whom have long fought for gay rights.
Some netizens appealed to the couple to advocate for gay rights, while others wished that same-sex couples would soon enjoy the same rights and privileges that heterosexual couples do.
Even Singapore Airlines was seen to be supportive of Mr Li and Dr Heng, congratulating them on their special day when the couple took a recent flight on the flagship carrier.
Last week, the LGBT community marked a major victory in Taiwan, when same-sex marriages became legal. The question is, will Singapore follow suit?/ TISG