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Time for LGBT community to be recognized as full-fledged members of society

by Philip A Rozario

While Penal Code 377A remains part of the law of the land, it is indeed heartening to know that the Law and Home Affairs Minister, Mr. K. Shanmugam, recently reiterated the government stance against the harassment of any groups in Singapore, including LGBT folks. This reassurance is especially salient in the light of the upcoming Pink Dot event at Hong Lim Park, which has received so much negative attention from certain religious elements.

As a visitor, I feel compelled to write in support of my LGBT family as I will not be able to attend, let alone participate in, your celebrations and expressions of love and life on July 1. I studied, worked and lived in Singapore in the late 1980s until the mid-1990s. I feel a kinship to the community, even though I don't know many of you. Yet I do remember a time when bars and clubs were raided and patrons subjected to taunts and intimidation. Indeed I note a difference in the government’s treatment of most things gay, and also note a fairly vibrant gay life in Singapore.

Opposition to the Pink Dot event fails to recognize how much the LGBT community is an inherent part of Singapore society. Even though members of LGBT are made invisible, the reality is, we are everywhere! We are your fathers and mothers, your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, your neighbours and co-workers, and your bosses.

Even though we appreciate not being harassed, with all due respect, I think it’s time for the LGBT community to be recognized as full-fledged members of society. It's time to fully embrace the spirit of inclusion that the current PM spoke so eloquently of in his 2004 swearing in speech.

Indeed, members of the LGBT community don’t need tolerance, we need respect. We don’t ask for special privileges, we want the same rights that everyone else has. In addition to non-discrimination at the work place, we would also like to enjoy the freedom to love and to exist, without fear of prosecution or persecution. And that is the only agenda we have. This request should resonate with those who preach the gospel of love.

Happy Pink Dot Day!