Gayish on GLUE: Two homosexuals, unpacking queer stereotypes one at a time.
Singapore and LGBTQ+ rights around the world.
Singapore recently announced plans to decriminalize sexual activity between men by repealing the colonial-era Section 377A of their penal code.
While there’s still much progress to be made for LGBTQ+ rights in the country, this is a significant milestone worthy of celebration.
Unfortunately, in the same speech, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also indicated plans to solidify the constitutional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, seemingly in an effort to pacify homophobic religious groups.
Gay sex will no longer be a crime in Singapore. Congrats to LGBTQ community in Singapore. Let’s hope same sex marriage will be legalized soon. This is a very good news. We’re making progress 😭😭
— Kelly (@Kellychu3110) August 22, 2022
When we released our episode about Singapore, which included discussion of this news, we received a comment that has stuck with me.
The comment was that the LGBTQ community had “barked up the wrong tree” given the blowback of the constitutional amendment.
Progress on LGBTQ+ rights is often met with pushback among anti-gay activists who somehow view equality as a threat to their way of life. The comment we received was frustrating because this mentality blames the victims for the actions of those that persecute them.
LGBTQ+ advocates are not “barking up the wrong tree” by fighting to decriminalize homophobic laws.
The groups actively doing harm to our community are the ones deserving vocal criticism (in this case, the religious groups such as the National Council of Churches of Singapore and the politicians that acquiesce to their demands).
Otherwise, those fighting for equal rights are punished for their efforts while homophobic religious groups get to evade the criticism they deserve.
This type of response is not unique to Singapore, or even LGBTQ+ rights.
After the repeal of Roe v. Wade in the United States, some criticized Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for not retiring during President Obama’s administration, which would have allowed him to, presumably, appoint a more liberal justice to the court.
Instead, because she died during President Trump’s tenure, he was able to appoint conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
This placed the blame on a progressive champion of women’s and LBGTQ+ rights while ignoring the Republicans that actually appointed the anti-abortion justice who voted to repeal the legal precedent.
It’s vital to discuss, debate, and critique the political strategy of human rights advocates.
Progress is imperfect, and there will surely be missteps and flaws along the way. However, this shouldn’t take focus off of our actual enemy, such as the anti-gay religious groups who are actively working against us. LGBTQ+ advocates in Singapore deserve praise for their accomplishment and support for their continued efforts towards equality.
To hear more about LGBTQ+ rights in Singapore, including the country’s super queer history and their modern-day worldwide celebration, listen to the latest episode of Gayish below!
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