70% of Singaporeans disapprove of same-sex relations, study finds

Religious groups among the most likely to have negative attitudes towards same-sex relationships

Almost 70 percent of people in Singapore disapprove of same-sex relationships, a recent study has found.

The number of people who disapprove was highest among Singaporean Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

The working paper, produced by the Singapore-based think-tank the Institute of Policy Studies, looked at the responses of 1,800 Singaporeans about their views on religion.

However, LGBTI rights advocates in Singapore have called the survey’s methodology into question.

The survey’s findings come amid a renewed push for greater rights by LGBTI advocacy groups in Singapore.

Negative views
The survey found that 67.9 percent of those surveyed responded that ‘sexual relations between two adults of the same sex’ was ‘always wrong’.

Just 16.4 percent of those polled said that same-sex relations were ‘not wrong at all’.

The trends found that negative attitudes towards same-sex relationships were highest among Muslims at 85 percent.

Following those trends were Christians with 78.3 percent and Hindus with 78 percent.

Those who said they were not religious had the most positive attitudes towards same-sex relationships.

The study also found that younger respondents were more likely to be accepting of homosexual sex, including among Muslims and Christians.

‘Ignores the reality of many LGBT individuals’
However, Leow Yangfa, Executive Director of LGBTI community support NGO, Oogachaga, questioned the methodology of the findings.

‘It is somewhat inappropriate that the views of the majority should be considered as a benchmark to determine whether a minority – in this case, same-sex couples and the wider LGBT community – should have access to the basic human right to love and form consensual relationships, and not be criminalized,’ Yangfa told Gay Star News.

‘The survey completely ignores the reality of many LGBT individuals, couples and families who are themselves religious and belonging to a faith community.’

Yangfa added that any implication that there is a significant polarisation between religion and the LGBTI community in Singapore ‘cannot be further from the truth’.

‘Many LGBT persons we have worked with come from families and communities that are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist, and may turn to their religion, faith, and spirituality as important sources of guidance, support, and acceptance.’

Support for keeping anti-gay laws
This is not the first survey to have found disapproval of same-sex relations in Singapore.

A survey found that Singaporeans were in favor of maintaining Section 377A, a British colonial-era law which criminalizes homosexual sex between men.

Prior to this, a petition launched in favor of maintaining Section 377A received over 109,000 signatures.

This was double the number of signatures a petition for the abolition of the law launched around the same time received.

Though the law is rarely enforced, many LGBTI rights groups also consider the retention of the law as having a huge effect on creating negative attitudes towards LGBTI rights in the city-state.

Push for greater rights
Renewed calls for the repeal of the colonial-era law followed the repeal of Section 377 in India. Singapore’s penal code is heavily modeled on the Indian Penal Code.

Pink Dot, Singapore’s premiere LGBTI rights event, featured a prominent call for the repeal of section 377A for the first time in 2018.

Ready4Repeal launched soon afterward, which saw a loose coalition of LGBTI rights advocates calling for the abolition of the law.

However, there has been little evidence that Singapore’s politicians will make the move to repeal the law.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the government would only consider abolishing the law if its repeal received a majority of public support.

The government also promised to toughen its adoption laws after the country’s highest court granted a gay man in a same-sex relationship the right to adopt his son born via a surrogate.

by Calum Stuart
Source – Gay Star News

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