Harassment of pro- and anti-LGBT activists unacceptable: Shanmugam

Harassment of pro- and anti-LGBT activists unacceptable: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE: The harassment of either LGBT activists or anti-LGBT activists is not acceptable, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday (Jun 27), ahead of this year's Pink Dot rally on Saturday.

"The Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group ... if the harassment crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action," Mr Shanmugam wrote on his Facebook page.

The minister was sharing his response to Mr Bryan Choong from Oogachaga, an NGO which provides counselling and educational services to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. 

Mr Choong had approached Mr Shanmugam recently and told him that sponsors of the annual Pink Dot event, which is held in support of the LGBT community, have been harassed. 

"People will have strong views on LGBT issues. The way to deal with the issue is to discuss, persuade," said Mr Shanmugam. "Harassment, either of LGBT activists or anti-LGBT activists, is not acceptable."

Mr Shanmugam also revealed that he is looking into feedback from other people who told him that in foreign financial institutions, young people who are against LGBT causes are "subject to a great deal of pressure" to go out and support the LGBT cause, despite their personal beliefs.

Last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs made clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence events held at the Speakers' Corner, including Pink Dot. Among the foreign corporate sponsors last year were banks like Barclays, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, as well as Apple, Google and Facebook.

This year, Pink Dot organisers said 116 local sponsors have pledged their support to the cause.

On the stepped up security measures for this year's Pink Dot event, Mr Shanmugam said the rules apply to everyone and every group in light of the current security climate. 

"Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target. Pink Dot event will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events," he wrote.

In response to Mr Choong's question on the Government's position on Pink Dot, Mr Shanmugam replied: "The Government is neutral about the underlying causes. People have the right to organise for whatever cause they wish, as long as the Speakers’ Corner Rules are complied with."

Only Singaporeans and permanent residents can attend this year’s Pink Dot, under recent changes to the Public Order Act, as foreigners are not allowed to assemble at the Speaker's Corner.

Source: CNA/gs