Joint statement by Singapore’s LGBT community groups

SINGAPORE, Tuesday, June 14, 2016 – The mass shooting in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando is a tragedy and sobering reminder of the homophobia LGBT individuals experience on a daily basis. We are shocked and saddened by what has transpired in Orlando and we share in the pain of the families and friends of the victims. Tonight, communities gather to remember the lives lost in a candlelight vigil at Hong Lim Park.

Our leaders have offered their statements of condolence to the victims of the shooting and we could not agree more that this was an act of senseless violence that led to the loss of innocent lives. We applaud Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam’s reassuring words that the Singapore government would protect its people regardless of race, religion or sexuality.

However, the LGBT community here remains vulnerable from the lack of actual laws protecting us against discrimination and hate. Beyond physical violence, the LGBT community continues to have to deal with psychological and social violence. The presence of 377A in the Penal Code empowers hateful ideologies and individuals, giving them what amounts to a state-sanctioned trump card to act on ideas of destructive discrimination or worse, divisive hatred.

Singapore has a secular and diverse society, with people from myriad backgrounds and beliefs, and places no one set of beliefs above another. We know the majority of Singaporeans are understanding, loving people, who can discern beyond the guise of traditional values to advocate an all-encompassing and inclusive diversity.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has called for dialogue and engagement. It is our hope, as an LGBT community, that through meaningful dialogue and engagement, our leaders will get the opportunity to better understand the LGBT community. At the end of the day, we want the same thing – a safe, peaceful and united Singapore for all Singaporeans.

This statement is jointly issued by the following groups: AFA Singapore, Break the Binary, Humanist Society (Singapore), GLBT Voices Singapore, Indignation, Inter-University LGBT Network, Singapore, KAMU, MOVE Community, Oogachaga Counselling and Support, Pelangi Pride Centre, Pink Avenues, Pink Dot SG, Project X, Queer Book & Movie Club, SAFE, Sayoni, SGRainbow, The Purple Alliance, The Bear Project, The T Project, Transgender Alliance, and Women’s Nite.

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TV host and writer Anita Kapoor, shot to fame as the clear favourite winner of a Discovery travel host search and has not looked back since. Insatiably curious and possessing a natural wit, this former magazine editor has explored the world for Discovery TLC, AXN, Lonely Planet, Channel News Asia and OKTO, and Starwood Asia Pacific channels, forever on a quest to pioneer the non-conformist stories and locations, especially to connect with the provocateurs who move their worlds.

She is an ambassador for the Singapore chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and her advocacies include Willing Hearts which feeds Singapore’s marginalised, Magic Bus which empowers childrens’ lives in India through sports, and A Single Love which supports single parents. She has also spoken at TEDx Singapore Women 2012 on ‘Female to Female Misogyny in the First World’.

As a Pink Dot ambassador this year, Anita hopes to extend her voice on issues of equality as she firmly believes that everyone deserves equal rights, regardless of the hand they have been dealt in life.

“I see the rights of LGBT people as human rights, really. Everyone deserves to be treated equally – in society, in employment and in the eyes of the law. I believe that as fellow human beings, it’s important to stand together – to speak up for one another when we have the ability and opportunity to do so.”

Anita continues: “There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of people we need to reach out to. Every one of us has the capacity to be a hero to someone else. I hope more Singaporeans will join us at this year’s Pink Dot. Because together, we can make this a more inclusive society for everyone.”