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Harassment over LGBT views unacceptable, says Shanmugam

SINGAPORE — In the run-up to Pink Dot this Saturday (July 1), Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has spoken out against the harassment of any group due to their support for or opposition to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles.

SINGAPORE — In the run-up to Pink Dot this Saturday (July 1), Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has spoken out against the harassment of any group due to their support for or opposition to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles. 

Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, Mr Shanmugam said he had met with Mr Bryan Choong, executive director of Oogachaga — a non-governmental organisation that provides counselling and educational services to the LGBT community — and the latter told him that the sponsors of Pink Dot “have been harassed”. 

“I told him that the Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group. Poha offers civil remedies to those harassed,” said Mr Shanmugam, referring to the Protection from Harassment Act. 

He stressed that if the harassment “crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action”. He added: “People will have strong views on LGBT issues. The way to deal with the issue is to discuss, persuade. Harassment, either of LGBT activists or anti LGBT activists, is not acceptable.”

 

Mr Shanmugam said that after his meeting with Mr Choong, he met others, including some who are “opposed to LGBT lifestyles”. 

They also raised with him the issue of harassment by LGBT groups against those who do not support the cause. 

“I gave them the same answer: Harassment is not acceptable. If a line is crossed, action will be taken. And Poha offers civil remedies,” Mr Shanmugam reiterated. They also claimed that in foreign financial institutions, young employees who are opposed to LGBT causes are “subject to a great deal of pressure to go out and support the LGBT cause, despite their personal beliefs”. 

Mr Shanmugam said he has asked them to provide him with details.

During his discussion with Mr Choong, Mr Shanmugam said they also talked about the more stringent security rules for Speakers’ Corner, such as conducting bag checks. The minister noted that the rules “apply to everyone, and every group”. 

“In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required,” he said. 

“We have seen terror attacks overseas, at rock concerts, festive markets and sporting events. Any large public gathering, with a high profile, will be an attractive target. The Pink Dot event will attract a large crowd, and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events. The security requirements will also be imposed at other events, even outside Speakers’ Corner, depending on the estimated crowd size, among other factors.”

Mr Shanmugam also stressed that the regulations for Speakers’ Corner which allow Pink Dot to be organised “should be respected”. 

“Likewise, if anyone wanted to organise an event opposing the LGBT cause, they will have the right to do so, in Speakers’ Corner. 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.”

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