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Singapore’s Education Minister says there is ‘no discrimination’ against LGBT people

Patrick Kelleher September 16, 2018

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty

Singapore’s Minister for Education has said that LGBT+ people do not experience discrimination at work, in housing or in education – despite the fact that gay sex is still criminalised.

Minister Ong Ye Kung was speaking at the annual Singapore Summit when he was asked how the country could be more inclusive towards people of different sexual orientations.

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty

Today Singapore reports that he said it was in the country’s DNA to be inclusive, but added: “The fact is they [LGBT+ people] live in Singapore peacefully, no discrimination at work, housing (and) education. They go about their lives.”

He went on to say that it was an issue of “social mores and societal values” and that the government will “leave it to society to decide over time” about what direction they should take on LGBT+ rights.

Debate has been raging in Singapore about whether or not they should repeal a colonial-era law that criminalises sex between men.

The debate was stoked after India repealed a similar law. Like Singapore, India’s law was in place since the country was a British colony.

Since then, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said that they do not want the law repealed, saying gay people’s lifestyles are “not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole.”

They also suggested that repealing the law would lead to a “normalisation and promotion” of a gay lifestyle.

Last month, PinkNews spoke to Singaporean LGBT+ activist, Rachel Yeo, about what it’s like to be bisexual in Singapore.

Yeo was recently barred from speaking at a TEDx Youth event at a school, and said that while she feels “relatively safe” living in Singapore, it takes “a thick skin” to be open about her sexuality.

“I know that isn’t the case for everyone… which is also why I wear a Pride badge to work because I want people to know that they can be safe and free to confide in me.”

SINGAPORE - JUNE 30: Participants dress in various shades of pink pose for a photo during the 'Night Pink Dot' event arrange to increase awareness and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Singapore at Hong Lim Park on June 30, 2012 in Singapore. The event is the fourth annual gathering held in support of the freedom to love. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Singapore has banned gay sex since before it was independent (Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty)

She also said that, while the law that criminalises gay sex is not enforced, it gives a “sense of uncertainty” to LGBT+ people.

After India’s landmark decision to decriminalise gay sex earlier this month, a veteran diplomat who is also Singapore’s former UN ambassador urged them to challenge the law.

Despite this, many in Singapore are still against repealing the law. A petition to retain the law has already received over 100,000 signatures from Singaporeans.

The description with the petition says that Singapore is a “conservative society which values traditional family values” and adds that marriage “should only be an acceptable norm between a man and a woman.”

More: Asia, Discrimination, Education Minister, LGBT rights, Ong Ye Kung, Singapore, Singapore

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