6 warned for transgender protest outside MOE

The activists had protested without a permit outside the Ministry of Education headquarters in Buona Vista in January.
PHOTO: Twitter/Kirsten Han

SINGAPORE - The police have issued warnings to six people for their role in a protest without a permit outside the Ministry of Education headquarters in Buona Vista in January this year.

The police did not name them in their statement on Tuesday (Nov 30), but previous reports had identified five of them as Ms Kokila Annamalai, 33, Ms Lune Loh, 24, Mr Elijah Tay, 19, Ms Averyn Thng, 24, and Mr Ng Yi-Sheng, 41.

Ms Kokila was issued a 24-month conditional warning for organising the protest and breaching a "Move-on" direction issued by the police to cease activities.

Mr Tay, founder of LGBTQ group My Queer Story SG, and Ms Loh were given a 12-month conditional warning for participating in a public assembly without a permit and breaching the "Move-on" direction.

A conditional warning means the trio have to refrain from any criminal conduct during the period of their warning. If they commit an offence, they can be prosecuted again for the consorting charge and the new offence.

Stern warnings were issued to Ms Thng and Mr Ng, a local writer, for participating in the assembly. The police said they had complied with instructions given by a security officer and left the scene before the police arrived.

Mr Alex Tan, 23, who was involved in the preparation of placards used at the protest, was also issued a stern warning.

On Jan 26, the five had staged a protest outside the MOE headquarters building at around 5pm, carrying 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", "trans students will not be erased" and "trans students deserve access to healthcare & support".

The police said that when officers arrived at the scene, only three people - Mr Tay, Ms Loh and Ms Kokila - were there.

They were warned to cease their activities but ignored the warning, the police said.

"The trio was then issued with a 'Move-on' direction under Section 36 of the Public Order Act and were told that they would be arrested if they failed to adhere to the direction," said the police.

"They refused to comply despite the police's repeated warnings, and were arrested under the Public Order Act at around 5.35pm."

In addition to the five protesters, the police said that four others, aged between 23 and 41, who were not part of the assembly, were investigated for their suspected involvement in the incident.

Other than Mr Tan, no action was taken against them.

The protest outside MOE headquarters happened after a transgender pre-university student diagnosed with gender dysphoria said in a Reddit post in January that the MOE had blocked her from getting hormonal treatment.

The MOE had said this was not true, as it was not in a position to interfere with any medical treatment, which is a matter for the student's family to decide on.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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