Singapore considering law to fight ‘cancel culture’ after gay sex decriminalised

·3-min read

Singapore might consider laws to deal with “cancel culture”, the law minister said, days after the city-state announced it will decriminalise gay sex, raising fears of “reverse discrimination” or being cancelled for expressing views on topics pertaining to LGBTQ.

Law minister of Singapore K Shanmugam said that the government could consider a legislation in near future to encourage people to freely express themselves amid a debacle between religious and LGBTQ groups.

“We should be encouraging people to be able to express their viewpoints on all sides as long as it’s not offensive and doesn’t descend to hate speech,” Mr Shanmugam said in an exclusive interview to Bloomberg Television.

“If we find the right solutions, yes, that should be something that we could see in legislation in the near future.”

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong took several by surprise during the National Day Rally speech in August when he announced repealing a colonial-era section 377A to legalise homosexuality to decriminalise gay sex.

But with the caveat that the government will bolster rules preventing same-sex marriages by amending the nation’s Constitution to prevent shake-up of traditional family values, a move widely seen to appease conservatives.

The term “cancel culture” has been widely embraced in Singapore as well as globally by right wing and religious groups who fear vocal opposition from marginalised or minority groups.

While the activists hailed the move to repeal section 377A as a hard-won victory opponents of the move urged that the changes mustn’t hinder their religious freedom to articulate views on public morality nor cause any “reverse discrimination” on those who don’t support homosexuality.

Mr Shanmugam told the television that government is concern about cancel culture not just in context of 377A but on a wide variety of issues.

“Religious groups, in particular, feel very put upon because they feel whenever they express their views they are attacked as homophobes,” he said.

“So there is a line between expressing your view on religion and becoming homophobic or engaging in hate speech against LGBT groups.”

Regarding amendments in the constitution to prevent same-sex marriage, the minister said it is “parliament’s prerogative” to define marriage so that it is not challenged in courts.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Home Affairs Minister, said the government will keep the death penalty to act in best interest of the society.

The Government has to act in the best interest of society by keeping the death penalty, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday, reiterating that its deterrent effect against drug trafficking saves thousands of lives.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking in an interview with Bloomberg and was asked what it would take for Singapore to review its stance on the death penalty.

The city-state resumed executions after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. So far 10 people have been given sent to sent to the gallows, including mentally challenged, Indian-origin Malaysian man Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, convicted for trafficking three tablespoons of heroin.

“If we believe, and we do, that the death penalty, in fact, saves thousands of lives, because of its deterrent effect,” he said.