People Like Us (Singapore)
People Like Us (PLU) (Chinese:我等之辈), is the main gay equality lobby group in Singapore. Having been twice rejected by the government board which approves or prohibits organisations, the Registrar of Societies, it is now in its third incarnation as "PLU3". The term "PLU" has also gradually become slang for "homosexual" amongst members of Singapore's and Malaysia's gay subculture.
History and Prior Incarnations
PLU is an informal association of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and heterosexual allies in Singapore that was formed in 1993. An initial application to the Registrar of Societies for official recognition of the group was submitted by 10 members, two of whom were heterosexual, on November 7, 1996, only to be rejected without reason on April 8, 1997. PLU subsequently submitted an appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs and the Prime Minister, garnering another rejection in May 1997. A re-founding meeting in 2003 gathered together over 100 participants, but questions remained about future potentials for recognition and strategy.
According to Joseph Lo, PLU aspires to be a space were GLB Singaporeans can "come together to help and support each other," leading the organization to coordinate discussion forums and social events for community building.
The early years
Lo, initially at the helm in organising and conducting PLU's activities, gradually took a back seat after Alex Au came on board. Au subsequently became the motive force behind PLU and the identifiable face of gay activism in Singapore, helping to reconstitute PLU in its later incarnations, earning him a gay award from Utopia in 2002. Lo was subsequently posted to Bhutan as part of his human rights work for the United Nations and remained there for well over a decade.
For the next 3 years, to 1996, People Like Us held monthly Sunday forums. A topic would be chosen and a lead speaker found. But the part which participants enjoyed most was always the break-out sessions. Forum attendees would divide themselves into smaller groups to flesh out these issues on a more personal and intimate level. Topics varied widely, and included coming out of the closet, the law, insurance for singles, housing and safe sex. More light-hearted ones like "homosexuals and beauty" were also dealt with.
Most Sundays, somewhere between 40 and 80 people turned up. This may seem few today, but was remarkable considering that it was before the Internet age, and its existence was only known by mouth, and the great majority of homosexual Singaporeans were probably too stigmatised to reveal their sexual orientation. Many who came to the forum half-expected to be arrested by the end of each Sunday.
PLU participated in compiling a report on the human rights situation in Singapore to be submitted in advance of the first UN review of human rights in Singapore. PLU also recently concluded an online survey of LGBT voters in Singapore in 2010 to ascertain issues of political importance to the Singaporean gay community.
- Offord, Baden. Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003. 163.
- Offord, Baden. Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003. 164.
- Offord, Baden. Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003. 165.
- Lo, Joseph. "Copernicus Revolution in PLU." People Like Us: Sexual Minorities in Singapore. Ed. Joseph Lo and Huang Guoqin. Singapore: Select Publishing, 2003. 132.