Singapore Voids Marriage of Transgender Woman and her Wife After Couple Applied for Benefits

Singapore’s Registry of Marriages (“the Registry”) has voided the marriage of a transgender woman and her partner in an unprecedented case in Singapore condemned by OutRight Action International, according to The Straits Times. The couple, known as FK and BS, were married in October 2015 while FK was still designated as male under Singaporean law. When applying for subsidized housing available only to married couples, Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) questioned the couple’s marriage because, by then, they were each legally registered as female. The marriage was then voided by the Registry and later the couple was denied marital housing.

While transgender people are entitled to legal gender recognition in Singapore, the Registry used the country’s criminalization of homosexuality and failure to recognize same-sex couples as the basis for annulling their marriage.

“This is blatant discrimination by two government departments that are undermining the rights to family and housing eligible to heterosexual married couples,” said Grace Poore, Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands at OutRight. “Furthermore, Singapore’s insistence that transgender people must remain in heterosexual relationships denies transgender people the right to be gay or lesbian, which is completely unacceptable.”

 

On February 10th, FK and BS were informed by the Registry of Marriages that their marriage was void because they “did not intend from the start to live as one man and one woman,” leaving them without a marriage and housing. Eventually, FK and BS found housing through a government program that provides housing only to single people. However, the home they received costs more than it would have for a married couple and is only half the size.

 

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