None of the political parties had taken on LGBT issues in their General Election (GE) manifestos, but the political candidates may have different views on the LGBT, said Ching SC – who is a National University of Singapore PhD candidate – in the Ethos Books’ Facebook livestream video on Sunday (26 July).
Ms Ching was among the panellists in the Ethos Books’ gathering of civil society that has brought together activists from different areas. The gathering, which titled The Ground Speaks: Civil Society After GE2020, was livestreamed on Facebook on Sunday.
She highlighted that many political parties tend to avoid sensitive issues like LGBT rights in the GE as they do not want to risk of losing the conservative vote.
“This is quite evident in the recent party manifestos released by various parties during the general election period,” said the co-organiser of Prout’s Queer Trivia Night.
Ms Ching pointed out that none of the political parties has specifically addressed the repealing of Section 377A – which criminalises gay sex – in their manifestos which she thinks is “highly disappointing”.
However, she noted that the LGBT community should also look into the political parties’ manifestos that could be relevant to them, as well as those that may be important to the community but are not being mentioned in the manifestos.
“Some may argue that LGBTQ issues are not bread and butter. But when you talk about anti-discrimination labour laws, housing medical and so on, these are bread and butter issues that are not only affecting the LGBTQ community but also all Singaporeans,” Ms Ching remarked.
Although she acknowledged that political parties refused to take on the LGBT issues, she said some political candidates may have different views on the matter.
“None of the parties’ manifestos take on LGBTQ issues, but different political candidates may have different views. So the only way to learn about your political candidates was really to engage them directly on specific issues or topics that concern you,” said Ms Ching.
“I do encourage everyone, not just LGBTQ folks, to continue speaking to your political representatives. It is your right as a citizen to publicly participate in a meaningful manner to make changes in this democratic society in a place we call home,” she added.
According to her, some LGBT groups – including Prout – are constantly engaging with the community through social media to ensure that they have all the information needed to decide on who to vote for and why.
“We also listed a list of 16 new candidates from all parties from the ruling party to the opposition that our social media followers stand. Stand actually means, you support,” she noted, adding that the list was crowd-sourced from its followers from social media.
Ms Ching went to explain, “A number of them do respond to the questions our community post to them, some are a bit more straightforward than others. While others were a little less receptive. There were also a few who are kind of backtrack”.
The groups also suggested a few points to the individuals who want to engage directly with the political candidates.
“It will be too simplistic and inward-looking if we were to only ask for the repealing of Section 377A, so we raised points on anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination against not just race and religion, but also on gender, age, people with disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identities,” she explained.
Other points include lowering the minimum age to buy public housing – which she noticed was mentioned in some of the parties’ manifestos –, media freedom, addressing cases of bullying related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and training medical staff to treat LGBT patients with “dignity” and “respect”.
Meanwhile, she opined that the level of engagement between the political parties and voters during the GE should be maintained, as the newly elected politicians will represent the people’s voice in Parliament.
“If we do not engage with the politicians and share our views with them, they wouldn’t know,” Ms Ching asserted.