It is commonly known that the LGBTQ+ community within Singapore lacks a number of rights compared to its non-LGBT residents.This comes as a shock for some as Singapore is an extremely developed and safe country. However its attitude towards homosexual men truly questions how liberal (or conservative) the Singapore government and community is.
Homosexual activity between men in Singapore has been illegal since 1938; Section 377A of the Penal Code of Singapore is the main remaining piece of legislation which criminalises sex between consenting adult men. Imprisonment is used as punishment and offenders can be penalised for up to to 2 years.
According to a study carried out by Equalled in 2013, nearly 73% of Singaporeans are against the marriage of homosexuals. Yes, although those affiliated with religion may use this as a reason for their beliefs, over 65% of the study identified as non-religious. For such an advanced country, why are its residents against broadening its acceptance of others?
The answer can be found in a statement given by the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in response to a question posed to him by the journalist Antonio Velaquez during the 7th ASEAN Journalists Visit Programme. When asked if Singapore was ready for same sex marriage, the current PM of Singapore denied the question because “the society is still conservative, although it is changing gradually.”
Thus, the government continues to wrongly shame the LGBT community and ignore claims of discrimination. There are no laws that currently exist specifically protecting LGBT Singaporeans from discrimination in the workplace, housing or any other relevant areas. Previous attempts claim damages for alleged discriminatory conduct in such fields have been dismissed in Singaporean courts. This is a major issue as it strips LGBT of its basic right, the freedom of discrimination.
Instead the government focuses on attempting to ‘transform’ the LGBT people of Singapore.
In January 2006 the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) granted SGD$100,000 to Liberty League, an organisation affiliated with the ex-gay movement (an effort to change people from being gay to being straight). The organisation says it "promotes gender and sexual health for the individual, family and society”. The organisation itself has been deemed as extremely unethical and shows how far the government will go in order to suppress the ideology of LGBT freedom.
The countries parades are also suppressed; while gay pride parades are huge events elsewhere, Pink Dot, Singapore’s main event supporting the LGBT community in Singapore, has come under increasing restrictions in the tightly controlled city-state. It remains confined to a tiny park despite its exponential growth due to the governments strictly conservative beliefs.
The wrongful treatment of the LGBT community in Singapore has remained since its British colonization, nearly 200 years ago. However, with an upcoming and accepting generation that challenges the barriers of society's constructs, the issue has been recently brought to light. In order to avoid stagnating it's vastly developing society, the Singapore government and people will need to learn to recognise and accept its growing LGBT community.