SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday (Aug 4) reminded foreign businesses to be “careful” about advocating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in Singapore, following comments made by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a visit to the country earlier this week.
In a statement issued from Singapore on Monday as the American politician kicked off a high-profile Asia tour, Ms Pelosi asked business groups to support the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community as more American companies set up offices here.
In response, MHA said on Thursday: “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."
These include LGBT issues, said the ministry, adding that “these are matters for Singaporeans to discuss and come to a consensus on how to move forward”.
Last year in May, a webinar co-hosted by the US embassy and local LGBTQ non-profit organisation Oogachaga also prompted a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
“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.
“These are choices for only Singaporeans to debate and decide.”
Debates over Section 377A - 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 377A over the years.
But the Government has said that it is considering the best way forward on the law, while respecting different viewpoints including those of a significant group who wish for 377A 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.