Harassment over views on LGBT issues 'unacceptable': Shanmugam

Mr Shanmugam said some people have told him that young people working in foreign financial institutions are subject to a "great deal of pressure" to support the LGBT cause despite their personal beliefs.
Mr Shanmugam said some people have told him that young people working in foreign financial institutions are subject to a "great deal of pressure" to support the LGBT cause despite their personal beliefs.ST PHOTO: ROYSTON TAN

Govt opposed to harassment of any group, whether for or against cause: Shanmugam

While people will have strong views on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, the way to deal with it is through discussion and persuasion, not harassment.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam made this clear in a Facebook post yesterday evening, in which he said Oogachaga executive director Bryan Choong had told him that sponsors of Saturday's Pink Dot rally had been harassed.

Oogachaga is a counselling group for people in the LGBT community, while the Pink Dot rally is an annual event in support of the community.

"I told him that the Government is strongly opposed to any harassment of any group.

"The Protection from Harassment Act offers civil remedies to those harassed. And if the harassment crosses the line, and is criminal, then the Government will not hesitate to take action," said Mr Shanmugam.

"Subsequently, I met with other people, some of whom are opposed to LGBT lifestyles. They also raised with me the issue of harassment, this time, by LGBT groups against those who don't support the cause. I gave them the same answer: Harassment is not acceptable. If a line is crossed, action will be taken."

The conversation took place in Oogachaga's office in Chinatown, where Mr Choong also spoke on the group's work with those in the LGBT community affected by drug use.

Mr Shanmugam said some people have told him that young people working in foreign financial institutions are subject to a "great deal of pressure" to support the LGBT cause despite their personal beliefs. He said in his post that he had asked them for more details.

The minister also said that the Government's position on Pink Dot is that the rules of the Speakers' Corner allow for the event to be organised, and that 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," he said.

"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."

During the conversation with Mr Choong, Mr Shanmugam explained the need for stricter security rules at the upcoming rally.

"In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required," he said. "Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target. Pink Dot will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events."

He added that similar requirements will be imposed at other events, including those held outside of Speakers' Corner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Harassment over views on LGBT issues 'unacceptable''. Print Edition | Subscribe