McIlroy to compete in Scottish Open

first_img Mickelson won the event at Castle Stuart last year before going on to triumph in the Open at Muirfield seven days later and McIlroy believes the 2014 event at Royal Aberdeen is perfect preparation for the following week’s Major at Hoylake. McIlroy, whose previous Scottish Open experiences came at Loch Lomond, said: “I can think of no better preparation for the Open, especially on a respected course like Royal Aberdeen. There will also be so many similarities I can bring to the following week’s Open Championship. Rory McIlroy is aiming to follow in Phil Mickelson’s footsteps after confirming his return to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open following a five-year absence. “Phil winning the double last year made me realise that the Scottish Open is more than good preparation for the Open – he showed it was possible to win both weeks. “You can play as much golf on links courses as you want, but until that’s in a competitive environment you can never tell how ready your game will be. It really is so important, then, to get some competitive golf on a true, challenging links.” Mickelson has already confirmed his participation in the July 10-13 event. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Inspired by India, Singaporeans Seek to End Gay Sex Ban

first_imgAcross the British Empire, the laws banning gay sex in the colonies were often so similar that some even shared the same code number. In India, it was Section 377. In Singapore, 377A.So when the Indian Supreme Court struck down this fall the country’s colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex, Johnson Ong — 2,500 miles away in Singapore — saw it as a call to action. Within days, Ong, 43, filed a constitutional challenge to overturn Singapore’s version of the ban, arguing that it was “absurd and arbitrary” and “in violation of human dignity.”“India is such a conservative society — much more conservative than Singapore in some ways,” Ong said. “So I was like, if India can do it, why can’t we?”It’s a question that gay rights activists across the former British Empire have been asking themselves in the months since the landmark court ruling in India. For these activists, the Indian decision was not only a victory for the global gay rights movement, but also a stark repudiation of the Victorian-era legacy that has long stifled them.More than half of the 70 or so countries that criminalize gay sex are former colonies that inherited those laws from the British. Many adopted the laws directly from the Indian Penal Code, which was seen at the time as a model for the other colonies.Now, decades after the British left and, eventually, decriminalized homosexuality at home, these colonial-era laws remain in force. This year, Prime Minister Theresa May even acknowledged Britain’s responsibility for that, saying such laws were “wrong then and they are wrong now.”But the decision in India has breathed new life into the fight against what some gay rights activists have called their “colonial hangover.”In Sri Lanka, activists have sought advice from the Indian lawyers who successfully fought the Supreme Court case. In Kenya, parties seeking to overturn the country’s ban on gay sex have submitted arguments to the High Court based on the decision in India.Perhaps the most vocal movement to spring up in the wake of the Indian decision has been in Singapore, a prosperous city-state that is not known for its vibrant civic activism. While previous legal challenges to the ban have failed, activists revived efforts after Tommy Koh, a veteran Singaporean diplomat, commented on the Indian decision, urging the gay community to “try again.”The encouragement from Koh set off a wave of discussion surrounding Section 377A, which dates to 1938 and threatens up to two years in prison for a man who engages in “any act of gross indecency” with another man. The law says nothing about sex between women and is rarely enforced.In addition to Ong’s constitutional challenge, more than 50,000 people, including a former attorney general and several former diplomats, signed a petition urging the government to reconsider Section 377A as part of a major penal code review, its first in more than a decade. The government declined.Though the initial burst of energy has largely subsided, activists remain determined to push the changes through.Singapore has spent much of the year on the global stage, first as the site of the summit in June between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, and later as the setting of “Crazy Rich Asians,” a hit film showcasing lives of luxury.“The world has this image of Singapore as a perfect, modern country with a high standard of living and forward-thinking policies,” said Glen Goei, a film and theater director who helped start the petition. “But this is just the superficial side of Singapore. They don’t see the underbelly.”Conservative religious groups have been leading the opposition to the repeal movement. In September, the National Council of Churches of Singapore, which represents about 200 churches, came out in support of the law, stating that the “homosexual lifestyle is not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole.”Echoing arguments that have been made in other countries, some Singaporeans have expressed concern that overturning the ban would threaten “traditional family values” and send the country down a “slippery slope.”Officials say it is up to society to decide what direction it wants to take on the issue. A recent survey by Ipsos Public Affairs, an independent market research company, found that 55 percent of people in Singapore supported Section 377A, while 12 percent said they opposed it.In an interview with the BBC last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the law “an uneasy compromise.”“I’m prepared to live with it until social attitudes change,” he said.Activists said that was unusual for a government known for taking a hands-on approach to its citizens’ affairs.“It is strange that they say ‘Let society decide’ because our government has never been a passive one,” said Johannes Hadi, a lawyer who started the petition with Goei. “They have always gone ahead and done what they felt was in the interest of the country.”In 2007, the Singaporean Parliament voted to repeal the original Section 377, which prohibited oral and anal sex between consenting adults, leaving only Section 377A in place.Officials have sought to reassure gays, reminding them that the law is rarely invoked. But in testimonies collected by local nonprofit groups and anthologists over the years, gay Singaporeans have described living under the shadow of a law that brands them criminals based on their identities alone.Profound loneliness is a common theme. Though Singaporeans take pride in their multicultural society, the country’s strict media and sedition laws discourage talk of ethnic and religious differences — not to mention sexual identity.There are also stories of victims who choose not to report sexual assault, domestic violence and even rape for fear of being prosecuted themselves. Stories of everyday discrimination — in public, in the workplace and especially within families — abound.Activists say the ban on sex between men sets the tone for discrimination against the broader gay community. Positive media portrayals of gay people, for example, are not allowed.In 2016, a local television station was criticized after it censored a segment of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in which President Barack Obama praised DeGeneres, the show’s openly gay host, for her advocacy work.“I think Singapore is the only country in the world that doesn’t know that Ellen is gay,” joked Jean Chong, co-founder of Sayoni, a local rights group for gay women.Even in this relatively hostile environment, it is possible to carve out some sense of normalcy. Ong is a DJ who also runs a digital marketing agency and lives with his longtime partner, a chef. On weekends they watch movies. For Mid-Autumn Festival, they made durian and taro mooncakes and sold them to their friends.But so long as Section 377A remains on the books, Ong said, living as a gay man in Singapore will be like “standing over a trapdoor.”“You see the lever over there and the government is saying, ‘Don’t worry, we aren’t going to pull it,’” he said. “But you never know.”Though the petition left the government unmoved, Ong’s constitutional challenge is still pending, with a pretrial conference set for Feb. 18.Perhaps the greatest folly in all of this, activists say, is the effort by governments around the world to paint homosexuality and the gay rights movement as imported. Last year, the Singaporean government banned foreign participation and sponsorship at the annual Pink Dot gay pride rally.But activists and historians say this is a major misreading of history. If anything, they argue, the colonial laws banning gay sex in Singapore and elsewhere should be considered imports, since they grew directly out of British law.“Sri Lanka was a matriarchal country before the colonists came and brought in their Christian and Victorian values,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, founder of Equal Ground, a gay rights group in Sri Lanka. “But here is our government clinging on to British laws saying that homosexuality is a Western import.”“One has to see the humor in all of it,” she added.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more