RE: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input

Andrew Allen <> Wed, 25 May 2016 00:21 UTC

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From: Andrew Allen <>
To: Melinda Shore <>, "" <>
Subject: RE: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input
Thread-Topic: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input
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Date: Wed, 25 May 2016 00:21:18 +0000
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Given events over the past 15 years in New York, Washington, Madrid, London, Sydney, Paris, Brussels,........ the possibility always exists of someone experiencing a devastating impact when engaging in international travel. The key thing is whether the risk of being affected by such an event poses a significant risk.

Are there any foreign nationals, currently or recently (over the past 10 years) jailed in Singapore for the offences of concern? If not then I would suggest that such a risk is minimal and much less than other potential devastating risks of international travel. 

According to Wikipedia page ( which I expect is pretty accurately maintained by members of the LGBT community (at time of writing the last update was 3 days ago):
 - Singapore: Penalty: up to 2 years prison sentence (Not enforced since 1999)

IMHO not enforced since 1999 (if accurate) does not represent a significant risk. I think it should not be too difficult for IETF to confirm the actual situation as this must be a matter of public record.

The additional concerns raised about family hospital visitation rights, etc, because of lack of recognition of same sex marriage potentially apply to just about every country in Asia (including Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea where IETF has had or has scheduled meetings). The Netherlands was the first country in the world to recognize same sex marriage as recently as 2001 and IETF has had successful meetings all over the world prior to 2001 and since then in many countries where same-sex marriage was not recognized at the time without such a concern being raised. If we recognize also this concern as a total bar to locations then we cannot meet almost anywhere in Asia for the foreseeable future. Also several countries in Europe do not currently recognize full same sex marriage (according to the same site only 12 out of 28 EU members) with 22 out of 28 recognizing same sex unions and 6 neither. What same sex unions means for foreign same-sex married couples in terms of hospital visitation rights is unclear and potentially affects our upcoming Berlin meeting (in Germany only same sex unions and not marriage is currently recognized according to the site).

Cancellation of the Singapore IETF meeting likely represents a significant financial loss to IETF, (expect increased meeting fees to cover that in future), the almost certain loss of a meeting located in the Asia region (also a negative impact on equal participation, fairness and diversity) and possibly the complete loss of a face to face meeting (if another suitable location cannot reasonably be found at short notice) with the associated financial impact of the loss of a 3rd of the annual meeting fee revenue. Taking such a momentous step should be determined by whether the Singapore location represents an actual significant risk to any of the IETF participants based on the actual facts.

If we take such decisions based not on the actual significant risk to any of the IETF participants but on our distaste for aspects of laws or public policy then we are creating a precedent for the future evaluation of meeting locations based on whether some in the community find aspects of the locations laws or public policy unacceptable.  That will IMHO significantly distract from the mission of IETF and significantly impact our ability to meet face to face in a regionally balanced manner.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf [] On Behalf Of Melinda Shore
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: [Recentattendees] IETF 100, Singapore -- proposed path forward and request for input

On 5/23/16 12:33 AM, Harish Pillay wrote:
> For that matter, and this is something I brought up previously as 
> well, if there is indeed active prosecution, how would you explain 
> happening in Singapore year in, year out? It is a 
> very public event and no one was prosecuted. Zilch.

I'm unclear on why this is a guarantee that, say, familial rights will be respected.  There were GLBT pride marches for decades in the US, Canada, England, and so on before that became the case.

It used to be common in threat analytic frameworks to define the cost, or risk, of a particular threat as a function of the threat's likelihood and its impact.  That is to say, a low-likelihood threat that had potentially devastating impact was identified as a very high priority despite its unlikely occurrence, specifically because of the dire consequences if it did happen.

The situation in Singapore is that bigotry has the force of law, and should a GLBT person run into that rare medical professional who has a particular animus towards gay people, or a cop who's having a bad day, or whatever, the law in Singapore does not provide protection against that bigotry - rather, the law is on the side of the bigot.  To say that the law is rarely enforced doesn't actually make things better - it introduces a level of uncertainty that may lead people who don't deal with these things to think everything's okay but still leaves the possibility for bad outcomes and high risk for GLBT people, as the power of the state is behind the bigots.

It seems clear that there are two basic sub-threads here: 1) whether the situation in Singapore is actually a problem, and 2) what supporting "diversity" in the IETF means in practice.  I think it's pretty clear that yes, there's a problem in Singapore in that while it's unlikely that someone will run into conflict, the consequences if they do are potentially shattering.  As for what "diversity" means in the IETF, I dunno.  Pretty much every discussion of gender, GLBT issues, and so on gets diverted into a discussion of geography.