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LGBT Tourism Singapore: Encouraging developments

Singapore goes pink? Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam addresses sexual orientation

Jun 15, 2016

Tourism, especially business tourism and meetings (MICE) is big business and important for the economy in Singapore.

With the United Nations Security Council just announcing yesterday LGBT rights are also human rights, criminalizing same-sex activities in Singapore could not only become a violation of human rights, but may also be a bad business decision when it comes to business or leisure tourism.

Is there a window of opportunity for gay rights in this ASEAN city state?


In a statement to eTurboNews, Mr. Oliver Chong, Executive Director, Communications & Marketing Capability, Singapore Tourism Board [STB], said:
"We are also a diverse and cosmopolitan city, welcoming all visitors from around the world whether for business or leisure."

Obviously the STB did not yet extend this welcome to LGBT travelers, but Singapore Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Tuesday went a step further when he said: "The government’s duty is to protect Singaporeans from the threat of violence, regardless of a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation."

"While the motives of the Orlando gunman in Sunday’s mass shooting are not yet clear, it appeared that the gay community was targeted," said Mr Shanmugam, who spoke to the media before he attended the annual breaking of fast session organised by the Religious Rehabilitation Group and the Khadijah Mosque Management Board at Khadijah Mosque.

‚ÄúThis is unacceptable. Violence against any group in any form is not acceptable. Here, the government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe Government‚Äôs duty ‚Ķ is to protect everyone. Their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, they are not relevant in terms of the Government‚Äôs duty to protect.‚ÄĚ

Such remarks by the Singapore minister are remarkable. Considering in February Singaporeans watching Ellen DeGeneres' recent interview on TV with U.S. President Barack Obama completely missed his positive remarks on the LGBT community ‚ÄĒ and many probably wouldn't have realized.

The show aired a special Valentine's Day episode on Feb. 12 in the U.S., that was later shown on both Singapore national TV and cable channel Lifetime on Feb. 23.

But roughly two minutes of Obama's remarks addressing host DeGeneres' contribution to the LGBT community were cut out by Singapore state censors.

In a joint statement posted on the Pink Dot SG website on Tuesday, various groups supporting the LGBT community, including Pink Dot, applauded Mr Shanmugam‚Äôs comments, noting the LGBT community here remains vulnerable to discrimination and hate. Section 377A of the Penal Code ‚ÄĒ which criminalizes sex between men ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúempowers hateful ideologies and individuals‚ÄĚ, they said.

According to Wikepedia Minister K. Shanmugam, is a Singaporean politician and lawyer. A member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he has been the Minister for Law since May 2008 and the Minister for Home Affairs since October 2015, a post which he had briefly served from November 2010 to May 2011. He previously served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from May 2011 to September 2015. He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1988.

Singapore goes pink? Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam addresses sexual orientation
K. Shanmugam, Home Affairs and Law Minister, Singapore

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