After a last-minute change of venue for a town hall discussion by the movement to repeal Section 377A, Singapore Management University (SMU) said it is not connected to the organisers, and is merely leasing out its premises for the event.
Responding to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, an SMU spokesperson said on Saturday (29 September) that the university is not hosting the “Ready4Repeal” event on Sunday (30 September), but had leased out its convention hall on a commercial basis.
“SMU has leased out a convention hall for a private, by-invitation only event organised by Ready4Repeal this Sunday,” said SMU’s spokesperson. “This is a purely commercial transaction between a leasee (i.e. Ready4Repeal) and a leasor (i.e. SMU). SMU is not connected to the organiser in any way, and does not contribute to the content of their event. As a university, we are neutral on the matter. Any support for the repeal of 377A from members of the SMU community is done in their personal capacity and does not represent the University.”
Organisers secured SMU’s School of Law as the new venue for the event, which was originally to be held at Suntec Singapore Convention Centre (Suntec).
Earlier on Friday, organisers of the petition to strike down the law criminalising gay sex in Singapore said that Suntec had cancelled the venue booking on Wednesday due to “unforeseen circumstances”, four days before the town hall was to take place on Sunday afternoon.
Suntec staff, however, told Yahoo News Singapore that the venue operator had no record of the event being planned or booked at its venue.
SMU also said that, as far as it was aware, no one from the university is among the speakers at the Ready4Repeal town hall.
The founding and current chairman of SMU, Ho Kwon Ping, has lent his support to gay advocacy groups by signing the petition to repeal 377A, which has garnered more than 49,000 signatures so far.
The maximum capacity of the convention hall is 1,400 persons, said SMU.
To attend the town hall discussion, described as a “private event limited to individuals who have signed the Ready4Repeal petition”, each attendee is required to pre-register via ticketing website Eventbrite. Admission to the event is free.
The event will allow attendees to “hear outcomes from the Ready4Repeal petition, connect with experts and like-minded individual and learn about next steps and how you can be a part of the movement”, according to organisers.
While there is no minimum age requirement for the event, foreigners are only permitted to attend the event as observers. Only Singapore citizens are permitted to speak on the panel or give speeches during the event, it added.
The Ready for Repeal petition, set up by various local LGBT groups, has gained the support of prominent Singaporeans, including businessman Ho, veteran diplomat Professor Tommy Koh, and former Attorney-General Professor Walter Woon.
Sex between men remains illegal in Singapore under Section 377A although it is rarely enforced.
The signatures of the petition were submitted to the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday, according to the Ready4Repeal Facebook page.