Singaporean Professor Withdraws From Teaching at NYU After Student Opposition

Prof-ThioLiAnnThio Li-ann, a Singaporean law professor, who was set to teach a human rights course at New York University Law School this fall, has been receiving plenty of opposition from NYU students because of her past comments and actions against homosexuality. Last night, she officially withdrew from her position because no one wanted her there. Ironic, isn’t it? Hiring a human rights professor who doesn’t advocate human rights (well only for those she likes). Even more so — hiring a professor who’s against homosexuality to teach at NYU, the school known for its high percentage of gay students. Good job, NYU human resources department. Really, what did you expect?

What led NYU students to actively oppose Dr. Li-ann, who is also a member of Singapore’s Parliament, was her decision during a parliamentary debate back in Oct. 2007, to oppose the repeal of a law in the penal code, Section 377A, which criminalizes sex between men. Dr. Thio has also called homosexuality a “gender identity disorder” and compared anal sex to “shoving a straw up your nose to drink.”

Despite all of the fruitless protests by NYU students, (let’s not forget "Take Back NYU!'s" glorious cafeteria barricade this past winter), this one actually worked. Their online petition, which was signed by 828 people, states “By bringing Dr. Thio to NYU, the Law School is acting in opposition to its own policy of nondiscrimination and undermining its commitment to advancing human rights world-wide … While Dr. Thio believes that 'diversity is not a license for perversity,' we believe that academic freedom is not a license for bigotry.”

In defense of Dr. Thio’s appointment, Dean Revesz, of NYU Law School, stated “academic freedom requires that disagreement express itself through vigorous, civil debate, rather than an attempt to suppress those views.” Well, the debate is over, and Dr. Li-ann is out of the picture.

Photo of Thio Li-ann from Parliament of Singapore