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Attendance of MSF officers at LGBT webinar 'not tantamount to endorsement' of event: Ministry spokesperson

Attendance of MSF officers at LGBT webinar 'not tantamount to endorsement' of event: Ministry spokesperson

A rainbow flag flies with a flag of the United States outside the US embassy in Singapore to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Screengrab: Facebook/U.S. Embassy Singapore)

SINGAPORE: The attendance of officers from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) at a recent webinar about issues to do with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community did not equate to endorsement of the event, the ministry said on Thursday (May 20).

This was in response to CNA's queries after Mr Leow Yangfa, executive director of local LGBT organisation Oogachaga, expressed his surprise at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) statement reminding the US embassy here "not to interfere in our domestic social and political matters".

The May 17 webinar titled The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Exploring Global Trends with Professor Lee Badgett was co-organised by Oogachaga and the US embassy.

“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 on Wednesday.

“These are choices for only Singaporeans to debate and decide," MFA added. 

READ: MFA reminds US embassy 'not to interfere' with domestic matters following webinar with LGBT organisation

Speaking to CNA, Mr Leow had said that the webinar involved an academic discussion on the guest speaker Prof Badgett's book as well as published research on the economic cost of LGBT discrimination.

"None of the speakers discussed how sexual orientation should be dealt with in public policy," said Mr Leow. 

He also said the event was invite-only and that invitations were extended to officers from MFA and MSF.

"At least two MSF officers were in the audience," he added.

In its response to CNA on Thursday, MSF echoed MFA's view that "foreign missions in Singapore should not interfere in our domestic issues" and that "domestic and political matters are for only Singaporeans to debate and decide". MSF said it had "specifically conveyed" this to Oogachaga prior to the webinar. 

"MSF officers regularly participate in events organised by local civil society organisations to engage stakeholders and understand their perspectives on various issues.

"The attendance of MSF officers was not tantamount to endorsement of the webinar nor the decision by Oogachaga to co-host it with a foreign mission," the ministry added. 

Source: CNA/hs(ac)

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