HOMOSEXUAL sex is illegal in famously-conservative Singapore, which was meticulously shaped by its former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who died in 2015.
So an understandable collective gasp of surprise and disbelief reverberated across social media platforms on Friday when it was announced online that Lee’s own grandson had married his gay lover.
In an Instagram post on Friday, May 24, Heng Yirui published an image of himself with his boyfriend, Li Huanwu – son of the late premier’s son, Lee Hsien Yang – dressed in matching white shirts and khaki pants at a game reserve in Cape Town, South Africa.
The image was accompanied by Heng’s message: “Today I marry my soulmate (Li). Looking forward to a lifetime of moments like this.”
Li confirmed his South Africa nuptials in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Saturday, saying: “Today would have been unimaginable to us growing up. We are overjoyed to share this occasion in the glowing company of friends and family.”
South Africa legalised same-sex marriages in 2006, and has been a leading destination for gay weddings.
Li’s matrimony comes just a week after Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.
Homosexual relationships are not recognised in Singapore, and homosexual activity is illegal under Section 377A of the republic’s Penal Code.
Nevertheless, news of Li tying the knot – which was picked up by Singapore’s independent portals, but steered clear of by the country’s mainstream media – has elicited a largely positive reaction across Asia.
From Facebook to WeChat, from China to Singapore, messages of support drowned out expressions of disdain and disapproval over the wedding, with many expressing hope that Li’s marriage heralds a new era for the LGBT community in the city state – and across the region.
Li’s own father, Hsien Yang, expressed his delight over the occasion to the South China Morning Post.
Li came out as gay and went public with his relationship with Heng in early 2018.