In a social media post on October 13, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) was specifically included in the Explanatory Statement to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (RHA).
He said, “I have been asked why the Explanatory Statement to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, MRHA (which was passed in Parliament, on 7 October) specifically refers to LGBTQ community, and says that, the use of force or violence against them, on the grounds of religion, will be an offence”.
“Some months ago, I had a dialogue with a group of people from the LGBTQ community. They said that they sometimes felt targeted as a community.
I told them that the Government’s clear position, was that everyone should feel safe in Singapore. We will not tolerate any threats made to physical safety. No one should threaten someone because they were LGBTQ; and likewise no one should threaten someone else, because of religious affiliation. This has always been our position”.
“They asked if this can be said officially. I told them I had said it several times, and that was the law. But nevertheless, I told them I will ask my officers to study and see how we can be more explicit.
This is why we decided to explicitly state the above in the Explanatory Statement : the ES says urging force or violence against the LGBTQ community on the basis of religion is an offence; and likewise it also says that if the LGBTQ community (for example) were to target a religious group in the same way, that will also be an offence. The law is the same for all”, Mr Shanmugam added.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam visited ‘The T Project shelter’ earlier this month (October 3).
In a social media post, the Minister shared photos of his time there and wrote, “The transgender community faces enormous challenges. The T Project offers help to those who have fallen through the cracks because of family issues. They provide counselling, job opportunities and most importantly a safe space”.
He also mentioned that while people have strong views on LGBT issues, it is not acceptable to harass either the LGBT activists or the anti LGBT activists.
Despite many who are personally accepting of LGBT issues, Singapore still has not repealed Section 377A of the Penal code, a law criminalising sex between consenting adult men.
Just last month, a retired General Practitioner and lecturer at the National University of Singapore Dr Roy Tan filed a case challenging the constitutionality of Section 377A of the penal code.
A Mr Tan Eng Hong first challenged 377A in 2010 which was initially met with resistance from the gay community itself.
At the Smart Nation Summit in San Francisco earlier this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made his thoughts on the matter clear.
PM Lee said that Singapore is open to the LGBT community even though Section 377A, the law that criminalises sex between men, will continue to remain on Singapore’s legislation. /TISG