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Singapore PM does not ‘understand’ LGBTI discrimination, group say

Singapore PM does not ‘understand’ LGBTI discrimination, group say

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Smart Nation Summit (Photo: Facebook)

LGBTI group Pink Dot Singapore has today (27 June) slammed the country’s prime minister over comments he made about inclusiveness.

In a post on its Facebook page, Pink Dot, that organize yearly LGBTI events, said that LGBTIs face various forms of discrimination and it will continue until lawmakers change gears.

This comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalizes queer male sex, will remain for some time.

What happened?

At the Smart Nation Summit on Wednesday (26 June), an audience member quizzed Lee on how the country will attract LGBTI tech talent.

On the issue of inclusiveness, Lee said that Singapore is open to the LGBTI community.

‘You know our rules in Singapore. Whatever your sexual orientation, you are welcome to come and work in Singapore,’ he said.

‘But this has not inhibited people from living, and has not stopped Pink Dot from having a gathering every year.

‘It is the way this society is: We are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East. [We are] something in between, it is the way the society is.’

He concluded by saying that Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code will be around for ‘some time.’ The code criminalizes queer male sex.

‘We disagree with PM Lee’

But the PM’s logic that the existence of Pink Dot SG, the annual LGBTI event, is indicative of the country’s pro-LGBTI society proved provocative.

‘We disagree with PM Lee,’ wrote Pink Dot in an open letter. ‘Pink Dot’s existence is not proof of Singapore’s inclusiveness to the LGBTQ community.

‘Pink Dot exists precisely because members of the LGBTQ community in Singapore continue to face discrimination and inequality in a multitude of ways, on a daily basis.

‘This discrimination that we face is borne from Section 377A, along with its trickle-down effects to other laws and policies that govern our society at large.’

The group went onto slam the PM for not having a ‘full understanding’ of discrimination. Before saying that it’s movement is not a ‘convenient deflection against uncomfortable questions.’

‘Our leaders might not have the vision or the confidence for a Singapore that can be united despite its diversity. However, we believe it is a Singapore which is possible.’

LGBTI rights in Singapore

Not only is the island city-state of Southasia divided by water, but its own laws do so, too.

In fact, it is legal for men to be queer, while it’s legal for women. But, overall, the law does not recognize same sex relationships and adoption remains illegal.

LGBTIs can serve in the military and legally change their gender. Yet, other than that, progress remains stiff in the country.

See also

Singaporean Paralympic medalist calls out minister over gay sex law

US embassy in Singapore finds inventive way to celebrate Pride Month

Study finds there are 210,000 men who have sex with men in Singapore