By Jolene Yeo
In response to a Facebook post by “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore”, Singaporean Bryan Lim posted an offensive comment that sparked a fiasco against violence towards the LGBT community. Threatening to “open fire” and “protect his nation” in response to the issue of foreign funding of pro-LGBT causes in Singapore, many Singaporeans were outraged at his instigation of violence against the marginalised group in Singapore, thus reporting the incident to the police which resulted in an ongoing investigation against Lim.
While the one Bryan Lim that spawned is merely a single representative from a cultural melting pot like Singapore, the fiasco sparked by his faux pax begs one to stop and consider the general state of affairs in the Singapore community towards its LGBT members.
Defending Bryan Lim
On We Are Against Pink Dot, Bryan Lim found himself a band of supporters who felt that his comments were taken out of context and did not mean harm against the LGBT community. The administrator of WAAPD commented that WAAPD does not condone the advocacy of violence, but followed up with the statement that “Pink Dot and the homosexual movement should be rejected through intellectual and policy engagement”.
The way forward
Amidst the slew of speculations on how the landscape of LGBT rights in Singapore will develop, one expert Richard Florida– an American scholar who now pontificates at the the University of Toronto argues with his talent-technology-tolerance framework that tolerance is a “urban policy hobglobin”. Citing his arguments, The Diplomat reports that tolerance goes much deeper than law. Florida provides the example that despite the ruling by the United States Supreme Court that legalised same-sex marriage, the amendments to the law is unlikely shift long embedded mindsets in politico-religious fiefdoms in America. For example, the refusal of Texas county clerk Kim Davis to offer a marriage license to a same sex couple, claiming that it was against her faith to do so.
At the same time, others like Denton county clerk Juli Luke, although personally resisting the supreme court ruling, stated that as an elected public official her personal belief cannot prevent her from issuing the licenses as required.
In likening the issue to Singapore, there is similarly no guarantee that a socially progressive policy would spur prejudiced contrarians to alter their beliefs towards more progressive ones. However, in consideration of the practical benefits to be seen as a tolerant and inclusive society–rather than one that takes a hard-line stance against LGBT and is seen to have its people instigating violence towards the marginalised group, it is in my opinion that Singapore would play towards its public relations advantage and maintain a relatively clean slate in the Court of public opinion.
Apart from the efforts of the Singapore Police Force to prosecute Bryan Lim for his online instigation of violence against LGBT, civil society has also risen up to make our societies a more conducive place for the marginalised LGBT community.
In a recent Facebook post by Pink Dot SG, a crowdfunding campaign by a social enterprise B-Change Insights Inc. has been launched to raise funds to build an Inclusion App. The App seeks to drive advocacy for greater inclusion of LGBTI, to help users find inclusive services and places in their city. Of primary importance to B-Change is to help people find health and social support service, including HIV testing and treatment, mental health as well as legal services. Currently in the initial stages of the crowdfunding campaign, B-Change has but raised 9% of the $50,000 goal.
Global efforts by supra-national governing bodies like the United Nations have also risen up to address the elephant in the room. Although the resolution was being prepared before the June 12 massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando, pundits say that the mass shooting was a huge impetus in propelling the Human Rights Council resolution, resulting in a vote to appoint an independent monitor to help protect gay and transgender people around the world from violence and discrimination. The Washington Post considers this milestone the United Nation’s most overt expression of gay rights as human rights.
In light of the incidents towards pushing for greater LGBT rights, as well as the obstructors or even aggressors who stand in the way of the social revolution, the words of US Justice Kennedy serves always as a timely reminder as to the respect for persons different from ourselves, and the justice they, as humankind, deserve under the law. “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness… They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”. While the road ahead to fight against the odds imposed by the Singapore community in allowing LGBT members of our society to be treated as equals by society and in the eyes of the law may never be smooth sailing, smooth seas never once made skilled sailors.