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Be careful about advocating LGBTQ issues: Singapore tells foreign businesses

Singapore: The Singapore government on Thursday asked foreign businesses to be careful about advocating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in the city-state that could be “socially divisive.”

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said this while reacting to comments made on the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a visit to the country earlier this week.

Stressing that “LGBT issues are matters for Singaporeans to discuss and come to a consensus on how to move forward, the ministry said these choices were only for “Singaporeans to decide.

The government would like to remind foreign businesses that while they are free to promote diversity in their companies, they should be careful about advocacy on issues in Singapore that could be socially divisive,” it was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

In a statement issued from Singapore on Monday as the top US politician kicked off a high-profile Asia tour, Pelosi asked business groups to support the local LGBTQ community as more American companies set up offices here.

American companies are leading investors in Singapore and through the city-state in the Asia Pacific.

Last year in May, a webinar co-hosted by the US embassy and local LGBTQ non-profit organisation Oogachaga also prompted a statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The MFA has reminded the US embassy that foreign missions here are not to interfere in our domestic social and political matters, including issues such as how sexual orientation should be dealt with in public policy, said the ministry.

Debates over Section 377 A- a Singapore law criminalising sex between men but is not actively enforced- have gained traction in recent months.

In February this year, Singapore’s apex court dismissed a challenge to the legislation, the latest of several failed attempts at repealing 377 A over the years.

The government has however said that it was considering the best way forward on the law while respecting different viewpoints including those of a significant group who wish for Section 377 A to be retained.

Singapore will also look to safeguard the current legal position on marriage against challenges in the court, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam last month.

The current legal position on marriage is defined under Section 12 of the Women’s Charter as being between a man and a woman; same-sex marriages are considered void.

Last Sunday, the Catholic church in Singapore reiterated its position that marriage is between a man and a woman but added that it respects the dignity of the LGBTQ community.

In response to media queries, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore on July 31 said that LGBTQ people should also respect the church’s rights to maintain its position on marriage and that the family unit comprises a father, mother, and children.