Anal Sex / Butt Sex, Gay, Gay Marriage, Law Professors, Law School Deans, Li-ann Thio

Dr. Li-ann Thio: The good professor speaks — and so does NYU Law School

Thio Li Ann Visiting Professor NYU Law School.jpgNYU Law gays, consider yourselves warned: Dr. Li-ann Thio is not afraid of you. The outspoken professor, who vehemently opposed decriminalizing gay sex as a member of the Singapore parliament, is ready to rumble:

We can be united in commitment to this principle [of academic freedom], without slavishly bowing to a demanded uniformity or dogma of political correctness set by elite diktat. I cannot say I am impressed by this ugly brand of politicking which I hope is not endemic….

I am disappointed at the intolerant animosity directed at me by strangers who do not know me and have decided to act on their own prejudices, forged from whatever sources, I am nonetheless glad that there are still some at NYU, who uphold a commitment to academic freedom and who entertain dissent with respect. As a recent NYU graduate, a Muslim friend of mine said, one must have courage in the face of bullying.

Dr. Thio can’t be prejudiced. Some of her best friends are Muslim!
Although her defense of the Singaporean statute against gay sex has been dismissed by one prominent American law professor as “dumb” and “embarrassing[],” Dr. Thio is not unaware of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in this area:

[C]ertain Americans have to realize the fact that there are a diversity of views on the subject and it is not a settled matter; there is no universal norm and it is nothing short of moral imperialism to suggest there is. Correct me if I am wrong, but there is no consensus on this even within the U.S. Supreme Court and American society at large, even post Lawrence v. Texas.

Dr. Thio is fighting political correctness with political correctness, accusing LGBT activists of cultural imperialism. Yikes! Find something to bite down on, kids, ’cause she’s not planning to use lube pull her punches.
Meanwhile, the NYU Law School administration has (finally) issued a public statement on L’Affaire Thio.
Read the statement, after the jump.


A message sent by Dean Richard Revesz to the law school community began with a laundry list of steps NYU has taken to support LGBT rights over the years. Dean Ricky then provided background on the program sponsoring Dr. Thio’s visit to the school:

[The Hauser Global Law School] program seeks to expose our community to legal scholars who come from and have been shaped by their experiences in different countries, regions, and cultures. Needless to say, the value of the program would be seriously diminished if the visiting scholars all thought of legal issues in the same way. Much of the benefit of engaging with the world lies in confronting profound differences in viewpoint and experience. We can learn from these visitors, and-we hope-they can learn from us.

Whatever their areas of expertise or views, Global Professors’ appointments are decided on their record of distinguished scholarship and teaching and their ability to contribute to intellectual exchange within our community. So, while many in our community sharply disagree with, or are offended by, Professor Thio’s 2007 remarks to the Singaporean Parliament, it is important to bear in mind that she was appointed as a visiting professor based on her published scholarship, not on views she expressed as a legislator.

Dean Revesz’s memo goes on to note that “the Law School categorically rejects the point of view expressed in Professor Thio’s speech, as evidenced by our early and longstanding commitment to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
On a less serious note, based on the results of our poll, ATL readers are not a fan of Dr. Thio’s claim that anal sex is like “shoving a straw up your nose to drink.” About 60 percent of you expressed disagreement with that proposition (and another 20 percent selected “I don’t understand” — we don’t blame you).
The full message from NYU Law School appears below. The Inside Higher Ed piece appears here. A post from Professor Brian Leiter on the controversy — who views the situation as “a bit embarrassing for NYU,” given the “embarrassingly low intellectual level” of her defense of criminalizing gay sex — is available here.
NYU LAW SCHOOL — MEMORANDUM — VISITING GLOBAL LAW PROFESSOR LI-ANN THIO
TO: NYU School of Law Community
FROM: Richard Revesz
RE: Visiting Global Law Professor Li-Ann Thio
A number of students, alumni, and faculty have contacted me about the appointment of Li-Ann Thio as a visiting professor in our Hauser Global Law School program this fall. I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm the School of Law’s commitment to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and to our longstanding policy of non-discrimination, and to share with the Law School community some thoughts about the appointment.
We are rightly proud that NYU and the School of Law extended partner benefits to gay couples long before New York law mandated such benefits. We are rightly proud that in 1978 NYU Law School became the first law school in the United States to deny its career services to employers that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and that in 1990 the Association of American Law Schools required accredited law schools in the U.S. to follow our practice. We are rightly proud that NYU Law School students and faculty were leaders in the suit by the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) to challenge the Solomon Amendment, and that NYU Law School was one of the first law schools to join the FAIR litigation, and to do so publicly. We took these positions because as an institution we believe that a society that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, or that tolerates such discrimination against qualified people, is not just.
We are also proud that we took these actions despite the fact that many individuals and institutions, at home and abroad, disagree with them. This point brings us to the appointment of Professor Li-Ann Thio under the auspices of the Hauser Global Law School Program.
The Hauser Program grew out of our early recognition that the practice of law has escaped the bounds of any particular jurisdiction, and that legal education must take account of the intertwined nature of legal systems. As with our institutional stand on LGBT rights, the program has made us a leader in legal education. At heart, the program seeks to expose our community to legal scholars who come from and have been shaped by their experiences in different countries, regions, and cultures. Needless to say, the value of the program would be seriously diminished if the visiting scholars all thought of legal issues in the same way. Much of the benefit of engaging with the world lies in confronting profound differences in viewpoint and experience. We can learn from these visitors, and-we hope-they can learn from us.
Whatever their areas of expertise or views, Global Professors’ appointments are decided on their record of distinguished scholarship and teaching and their ability to contribute to intellectual exchange within our community. So, while many in our community sharply disagree with, or are offended by, Professor Thio’s 2007 remarks to the Singaporean Parliament, it is important to bear in mind that she was appointed as a visiting professor based on her published scholarship, not on views she expressed as a legislator.
To be clear, the Law School categorically rejects the point of view expressed in Professor Thio’s speech, as evidenced by our early and longstanding commitment to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet we believe academic freedom requires that this disagreement express itself through vigorous, civil debate, rather than an attempt to suppress those views. We fully expect that Professor Thio will embrace the values of academic freedom as well, and be open to the kind of respectful conversation that marks a great institution of higher learning.
Rights for Some People [Inside Higher Ed]
Li-ann Thio, NYU’s Anti-Gay Bigot and Visiting Professor [Leiter’s Law School Reports]
Earlier: Dr. Li-ann Thio: An Update
NYU Professor of Human Rights: Not a Fan of Gay Rights?

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