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Grandson of Singapore’s ‘founding father’ comes out as gay

Same-sex sexual activity remains punishable with up to two years in prison in the Southeast Asian city-state

By Will Stroude

The grandson of Singapore’s ‘founding father’ has come out as gay, despite homosexuality being illegal in the Southeast Asian city-state.

Li Huanwu, grandson of Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, has become a rare LGBT public figure in a territory where same-sex sexual activity remains puinishable by up to two years in prison and canings.

Huanwu, 31, came out publicly earlier this month when he was picutred arm-in-arm with his partner Yirui Heng, 27, for a photography exhibition entitled ‘Out in Singapore’, created to promote LGBT acceptance in the city.

The couple were later snapped sharing a kiss at Pink Dot 2018, Singapore’s annual LGBT Pride event which celebrated its tenth anniversary this week.


What a year 2017 has been! Onwards to the new year! #bae #baecation

A post shared by Yirui Heng (@hengyirui) on

Huanwu had been a vocal supporter of the evnet priot to coming out publicly, encouraging Singaporeans of all sexualities to support the event in a Facebook post last year.

He wrote at the time: “If you are a straight ally, I implore you to come stand in solidarity. For the LGBT community, it is but a dream to share in the same human dignities as you, to live full and proper lives.

“Your support is needed to live that dream. Please stand with us.”

Huanwu’s grandfather Lee Kuan Yew served as Singapore’s prime minister for more than three decades from 1959-1990, before passing away in 2015 at the age of 91.

Lee Kuan Yew served as prime minister of Singapore from 1959-1990

While homosexuality remained outlawed in Singapore throught his premiership, Yew indicated that he would accept a gay family member in his 2011 autobiography Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going.

“It’s not a lifestyle. You can read the books all you want, all the articles. There’s a genetic difference, so it’s not a matter of choice. They are born that way and that’s that”, he said at the time.

“I mean none of my children is gay, but if they were, well that’s that.”