Yesterday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that there is no discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community “at work, housing (and) education” here in Singapore.
After India’s move to repeal the law banning gay sex, there has been a push in Singapore to do away with section 377A of the Penal code, that criminalizes sex between men.
Mr Ong was one of the attendees of the annual Singapore Summit, a conference for business and for leaders to discuss business and global affairs.
“The fact is they (the LGBTQ community) live in Singapore peacefully, no discrimination at work, housing (and) education. They go about their lives. However, on the issue of LGBTQ, it is also an issue of social mores and societal values,” he said, adding that it is in Singapore’s DNA to be inclusive.
Since India’s Supreme Court struck down the country’s law banning gay sex on Sept 6, the LGBTQ community here has called on the Singapore Government to follow suit, and to repeal section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men.
Mr Ong also echoed sentiments similar to those of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who said that ultimately society has to decide on their stance.
“We might be the largest animal in the jungle, but we are not the jungle. Some things we leave it to society to decide over time,” Mr Ong added.
Section 377A remains in the books because Singapore society is still largely conservative, but the Government does not and will not proactively enforce the law.
Many netizens were angered by Mr Ong’s comments and argued that discrimination was indeed present against the LGBTQ community.
One netizen, Poh Kok Ing, rightly questioned: Can gay people get married? Can they buy an HDB flat as a couple? Can they adopt kids? Did they even conduct an inquiry into workplace discrimination against gay people?