Controversy Over Antigay Comments at NYU

A Singaporean law professor who made the remarks cancels her plans to teach at NYU.

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New York University students' uproar in response to antigay statements made by a law professor from Singapore have prompted the professor to cancel her plans to teach at the university this fall, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Li-ann Thio intended to teach two courses as a visiting professor at NYU's law school—one on human rights in Asia and another on constitutionalism there. But when NYU students and graduates learned that she opposes repealing a Singaporean law that criminalizes sex between men, they began protesting her appointment. She also supports Singapore's imposition of a fine on a television station that depicted a gay couple and their child as a family unit and has generally denounced homosexuality in several public statements.

More than 750 members of the NYU community had signed an online petition that states that by hiring Thio, the law school is "acting in opposition of its own policy of nondiscrimination and undermining its commitment to advancing human rights worldwide." In a statement published Wednesday evening by the New York Times, Law School Dean Richard Revesz says that Thio told him she was "disappointed by what she called the atmosphere of hostility by some members of our community towards her views and by the low enrollment in her classes."

The dean also says that the law school did not know of Thio's controversial remarks when it selected her as a visiting professor. However, the dean says, if it had known, this fact alone would not necessarily have persuaded the law school not to offer Thio the visiting professorship because colleges and universities "benefit greatly from a diversity of perspectives, not from hiring only people who share the same views."