On Tuesday Jan 26th, a group of people protested against transphobia outside Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) building. As a result, three people were arrested in the evening.
A police briefing to the news media house said the three were arrested on charges of allegedly taking part in a public assembly without a permit. All three are between the ages of 19 and 32.
Outside MOE headquarters along Buona Vista Drive, five persons had “allegedly staged a protest” at around 5pm on Tuesday. According to the police, the protesters held placards stating “#FIX SCHOOLS NOT STUDENTS”, “WHY ARE WE NOT IN YOUR SEX ED”, “HOW CAN WE GET A’s WHEN YOUR CARE FOR US IS AN F”. Other placards read, “trans students will NOT be erased” and “trans students deserve access to HEALTHCARE & SUPPORT”.
When the group carried out the protest, they did not have a police permit at the time. Only three individuals remained when the police arrived.
The police’s side of the incident
Authorities said the police did warn the three to stop their activities or face charges under the Public Order Act. The three chose to ignore the warning and continued protesting.
The police the issued the group with a ‘Move-on’ direction under Section 36 of the Public Order Act. The protesters were also told that failing to adhere to the direction would lead to their arrest. Despite several police warnings, the three refused to comply. They were arrested under the Public Order Act at around 5.35pm.
The police seized two multi-coloured flags, a blue bag and five placards at the protest scene. Around 10pm, amid ongoing investigations, the three individuals were released on bail.
Community Action Network SG stated earlier on Tuesday that a group of students and supporters were planning to stage a protest at 5pm. Education Minister Lawrence Wong was called on by the students to “end discrimination against LGBTQ+ students by MOE schools”.
The students also called upon Mr Wong to “uphold the fundamental rights of all students to education within a safe and supportive school life”.
Protestors are urging the Education Ministry to acknowledge and apologise for “the harm done by schools to LGBTQ+ through their schools’ discriminatory practices”.
A Reddit post
Earlier this month, a female student made a Reddit post. The student claims she wants to begin hormone therapy. However the MOE prevented her from obtaining a doctor’s referral letter to do so.
Her claims were denied by the ministry two days later. They explain that they didn’t interfere with the student’s treatment. The student is invited to approach the school to “clarify and discuss how the school can support his schooling better”.
Statement from MOE and IMH
A joint statement was released by the MOE along with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Jan 21st. It stated he final decisions on the use of hormone therapy “rest with clinicians and their patients”.
MOE and IMH explain that parents must consent in writing for such treatments. This is a requirement in cases when minors are concerned.
“Within the school setting, the schools work closely with IMH and the parents to support these students, and to maintain a conducive learning environment.”
“In this case, the school is committed to providing the education support the student needs to graduate, including via home-based learning.”
27th January 2021 23:00
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