On 27 Jun, Oogachaga, a community-based counselling, support and personal development agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples and families held a conversation with Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam on LGBT issues in Singapore.
Shanmugam made a post on the session on his Facebook and made the following points.
On the Government’s position on Pink Dot: Speakers’ Corner rules allow the Pink Dot event to be organised, and that should be respected. Likewise if anyone wanted to organise an event opposing the LGBT cause, they will have the right to do so, in Speakers Corner. The Government is neutral about the underlying causes. People have the right to organise for whatever cause they wish, as long as the Speakers’ Corner Rules are complied with.
On the reasons for security requirements for Pink Dot: The increased security rules for Speakers’ Corner (like conducting bag checks) applies to everyone and every group. In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required. We have seen terror attacks overseas, at rock concerts, festive markets and sporting events. Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target. Pink Dot event will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events. The security requirements will also be imposed at other events, even outside Speakers’ Corner, depending on the estimated crowd size, amongst other factors.
On sponsors of Pink Dot and anti-LGBTs being harassed: The Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group. POHA offers civil remedies to those harassed. And if the harassment crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action. People will have strong views on LGBT issues. The way to deal with the issue is to discuss, persuade. Harassment, either of LGBT activists or anti-LGBT activists, is not acceptable.
On the issue of drug abuse: While Singapore has tackled the drug problem quite effectively, but it is not a war that you can ever say you have won. Worryingly, we are getting more young people, they are going for designer drugs, now they are getting online. The Central Narcotics Bureau works with many organisations, across all racial, religious and other communities, to get the messages on anti-drug abuse out. Thus it makes sense for CNB to ask Oogachaga to help spread the anti-drug abuse message to the LGBT community. The key is to reach out to the LGBT community and get the message out – that drugs destroy lives.
Although Shanmugam went passive aggressive when delivering these points, he highlighted that the government has been consistently Neutral towards LGBTQ issues.
Pink Dot 2017 is just a few days away and the LGBT community can come together to celebrate love and inclusiveness safely without any security threats or harassment. It is assuring to hear that whichever side one is on, the laws will apply if anyone crosses the line.