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Radio DJ barred from giving TED talk at Singapore poly because of LGBTQ+ themes

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Joshua Simon, a radio presenter at Kiss92 FM, had his recent TED Talk cancelled because of the LGBTQ+ themes it contained.

TED Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity, and Simon was set to speak at Singapore Polytechnic. His talk, titled, ‘Searching for Aliens in a Human World’ was to be held last Saturday (June 29).

In a Facebook post, Joshua Simon wrote that he was removed from the speakers’ list at Singapore Polytechnic because his talk included LGBTQ+ themes.

He said that he refused to edit his script or to leave out any content in relation to LGBTQ+ themes.

“It would be against my principles to flip the gender of my ex when mentioning my breakup and to totally leave out my coming out story to my father – both of which are, and will always be, defining moments of my story”.

He also added that on Sunday morning, a representative from the school expressed interest in meeting him to issue a formal apology, stating that they had to abide by the rules of The Ministry Of Education.

Last Wednesday (26 June), PM Lee quashed all hope that Section 377A will be repealed in Singapore anytime soon, as he asserted that the law criminalising gay sex will be around “for some time.”

Claiming that Singapore has been open to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, PM Lee said:

“You know our rules in Singapore. Whatever your sexual orientation, you are welcome to come and work in Singapore. But this has not inhibited people from living, and has not stopped Pink Dot from having a gathering every year.

“It is the way this society is: We are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East. (We are) something in between, it is the way the society is” he added.

When asked about what he thought about PM Lee’s comments, Simon joked “Yes, Singapore is not like San Francisco – they have much better tacos!”

However, he went on to express his disappointment that PM Lee had never attended a Pink Dot event, yet made rather sweeping statements about an entire community in Singapore.

He told TISG, “Ultimately, how we feel is that we’re not being heard, we’re not being seen, we’re being scratched out”. 

Referencing Education Minister Ong Ye Kung who said that there is no discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community “at work, housing (and) education” in Singapore, Joshua Simon retorted, “I found (his comments) especially hurtful, because I am a victim of that”.

“I’ve been bullied, I was called bapok (transsexual) a lot when I was a kid, I was beat up, I was even held with my Prefect tie and choked when I was in school. But no one wants to hear that story. No one has allowed me to share that story, and no one’s heard my story. So that’s why it was so hurtful when he said that this does not happen”.

“This TED talk thing is just another example of the officials just refusing to hear our stories” he said.

TISG has reached out to  Singapore Polytechnic for further comments.

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