Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Reach survey on LGBT attitudes, Section 377A closes after 'overwhelming response'

SINGAPORE — An online survey by the Government that sought public feedback on attitudes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community closed on Wednesday (March 23) owing to an “overwhelming response”. Feedback was also sought regarding Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men.

Reach survey on LGBT attitudes, Section 377A closes after 'overwhelming response'

A screenshot taken at 2pm on March 23, 2022 of the Reach website where a survey had been done on attitudes to the LGBTQ community and Section 377A of the Penal Code.

  • Reach was doing an online survey about attitudes to the LGBTQ community and Section 377A of the Penal Code
  • The Government's feedback unit told TODAY the survey was closed on March 23 after receiving more than 30,000 responses
  • This was far more than the number of responses typically received for Reach surveys
  • Some people who wished to respond to the survey said they were unhappy they had missed their chance to do so

SINGAPORE — An online survey by the Government that sought public feedback on attitudes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community closed on Wednesday (March 23) owing to an “overwhelming response”. Feedback was also sought regarding Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men.

Reach, the Government's feedback unit that was doing the survey, told TODAY that more than 30,000 responses were received by noon on Wednesday when it closed.

“This far exceeds the usual number of responses, which ranges from a few hundreds to a couple of thousands,” it added.

Reach did not reply to a question on the original intended time-frame of the survey — which it described as a virtual version of its "Listening Point" — it did say that the survey began on Monday. 

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Listening Point was an open concept feedback booth that allowed Singaporeans to get information and give feedback on government policies.

The online survey polled people on questions that ranged from whether they feel the LGBTQ community is “accepted in Singapore'', to whether they are supportive of the community and its causes.

This far exceeds the usual number of responses, which ranges from a few hundreds to a couple of thousands.
Reach said in response to the more than 30,000 responses to a survey on the LGBTQ community and Section 377A of the Penal Code

Reach also sought to find out what respondents know about Section 377A, which has been hotly debated, and whether they felt the law should be repealed, maintained or modified. 

The survey came after Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on March 3 that the Government is “considering the best way forward” on the law. He added that any change in legislation will need to respect different viewpoints and has to be considered carefully after having consulted different groups.

Mr Shanmugam's remarks in Parliament followed a ruling on Feb 28 by the nation’s highest court to dismiss challenges to Section 377A, while stating that the law was “unenforceable in its entirety” and poses no threat of prosecution.

Reach told TODAY that the survey is “one of many” that it pushes out frequently to gather feedback from Singaporeans on various issues.

Although the survey was open on Monday, social media posts — including those urging others to make their views on the matter known by taking part in the survey — and an article by Yahoo News Singapore about it started appearing only on Tuesday evening. There were also some online comments taking issue with how the questions were phrased in the survey. 

Since the survey closed, some people have taken to social media to express their unhappiness at missing the deadline to submit their responses.

In a Facebook post, the pro-LGBTQ group Pink Dot SG urged its followers on Wednesday to submit their feedback and added that the “survey is expected to close before the end of the week”.

Members of We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore, a group opposing the causes espoused by the LGBTQ community, also shared the survey's weblink on Tuesday, urging others to make their perspectives heard.

Others on social media commented that one flaw with the survey was that it is said to have allowed an individual to submit multiple responses.

Freelance journalist Kirsten Han wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that she expected “conservative Christian circles” to take part in the survey "en masse". “The next thing you know, the results are used by the Government to justify policy,” she said, adding that this was the only reason why she was responding to the survey.

Other criticisms seen online included the way some questions in the survey were asked. One Twitter user, who goes by the handle @wwei11, said that she was stumped by the way the questions were phrased.

One example was: "I feel that the LGBT+ Community is accepted in Singapore."

To this, @wwei11 said: “Is accepted vs should be accepted are two very different things. I'm not sure what they are asking?”

Facebook user Edric Sng was also critical of the survey, which he felt “falls short on many levels”. These include allowing anonymous participants, not having a representative cross-section of the population and the phrasing of the questions, which will “lead to unclear conclusions”.

“In the end, there is just one clear question… on (whether) Section 377A should be maintained, repealed or in some way modified,” he wrote.

“But given the methodical issues, even that result will not be credible. Which does not help the conversation at all, and in fact only escalates the already shredded tensions. In which case — why bother?” he continued.

TODAY has sent queries to Reach, for it to comment on the criticism of the survey's design. 

In response to TODAY's queries, Mr Leow Yangfa, executive director of Oogachaga, which works with LGBTQ individuals, said they were not involved in the survey design or implementation.

He added that the non-profit organisation did not have any prior knowledge of the survey until they were informed by community members on Tuesday at around the same time as everyone else.

While his organisation will not be involved in the data analysis, Mr Leow said he nevertheless appreciated the effort to gather feedback. 

"We applaud this first time effort by the Singapore Government, through Reach, to seek the public's views on the local LGBTQ community, and on the repeal of section 377A," said Mr Leow.

"We sincerely hope that the qualitative data collected from the 'more than 30,000 responses' will support and augment all the issues previously raised by Oogachaga, Pink Dot SG, Sayoni, Transgender SG and other local LGBTQ community organisations through our advocacy efforts over the years."

Related topics

Reach LGBTQ Section 377A survey social media

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa