Thursday, January 28, 2016

Haiku and Singapore's Lies

So much snow
written off
by January


Lies, half-truths, excuses. At the UN's Universal Periodic Review, Chan Heng Chee defends discrimination against LGBTI people on behalf of the Singapore government: "... we treasure every Singaporean. LGBTI persons are part of our society. And we acknowledge their contributions, like we do for all our citizens. Let me say that Singapore is basically a conservative society. We have to manage such issues sensitively and in a pragmatic way without fracturing our society. Even in developed countries with more liberal societies, LGBT rights remain a divisive issue. We inherited the law on sodomy, Section 337A of the Penal Code from Britain, through the Indian Penal Code and the Straits Settlement Penal Code during our colonial history, but our position today is not to proactively enforce Section 377A. On October 2, 2007, there was a long and intense debate in Parliament on repealing 377A. Parliament eventually decided to retain the status quo. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the following points. One, that Singapore is a conservative society. Two, it is better to accept the legal untidiness and ambiguity of leaving 377A as it is and not proactively enforce it. And three, it would not be wise to force the issue, to settle the matter one way or the other. In fact, LGBTI persons are free to lead their lives in Singapore. The Civil Service does not discriminate against LGBTI applicants. They hold an annual LGBT rights rally called Pink Dot, which was attended by more than 28 000 people last year, as reported in our national media. They are free to write and stage plays about LGBTI issues. And there are bars that are frequented by LGBTI persons. Our approach is to live and let live, and to preserve the common space for all communities in Singapore. We firmly oppose discrimination and harassment, and we have laws to protect our citizens from such acts. Our view is that our society should evolve gradually. Our population has to decide collectively, rather than the government decides one way or the other."

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