Singapore—On August 7, Wednesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said it will not tolerate any violence against anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Dr Walter Theseira had asked a parliamentary question concerning measures taken by the ministry to aid those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community subject to violence from their intimate partners or family members.
In its response, MSF cited that the Penal Code criminalises violence and the use of force against all persons, which includes individuals belonging to the LGBTQ community, Yahoo News Singapore reports.
The ministry pointed out the recent Criminal Law Reform Act which strengthens protection in the Penal Code, and the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) by enhancing the penalties for offenses committed against vulnerable persons and victims of violence in intimate or close relationships with the perpetrator.
Another question Dr Theseira asked was whether state-run institutions are sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ victims when they come forward to report incidents of abuse or violence. He also asked if the ministry is planning to hold public education initiatives in cooperation with non-governmental organisations to support these victims.
The MSF said, “Our institutions and social workers are trained to be sensitive to the diverse needs of victims of violence, including those of LGBTQ persons.”
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence may turn to MSF’s social service agencies for aid, such as family violence specialist centres and family service centres.
The ministry said anyone who needs it will get such services in these centres, without discrimination.
MSF has already held public education measures for the purpose of raising awareness on domestic violence, including its ‘Break The Silence campaign’. This campaign zeroes in on the part bystanders play in the prevention and reporting of acts of violence, with neither their sexual orientation nor marital status being taken into consideration.
Dr Theseira also asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) concerning the number of people from the LGBTQ community who have sought mental health care.
According to the MOH, ”Public mental health services are available to all Singaporeans, irrespective of gender identity.”
The NMP also asked the MOH regarding its plans to provide counselling and social services geared towards the LGBTQ community, and also LGBTQ-sensitivity training to service providers.
The MOH said that in 2017, the Gender Care Clinic was set up by the Institute of Mental Health. In this clinic counseling and mental health support is given for people who are undergoing difficulty in relation to gender identity, although, “As the service is relatively new, it is premature to infer trends at this point in time.”
MOH said it trains healthcare providers who take charge of individuals with mental health issues to support these persons with empathy, sensitivity and due consideration of their specific care needs.”/ TISG