LGBT groups consulted for report

Govt sessions held for 1st time ahead of UN review

THE welfare of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups here may be on Singapore's international human rights report, after the Government conducted consultations with the groups here for the first time.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consulted LGBT groups, including Pink Dot and Sayoni, and other civil society groups in January, ahead of its human rights report to be submitted to the United Nations next year.

"In preparation for Singapore's 2nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council in January 2016, MFA conducted outreach to interested civil society organisations to get their feedback, including LGBT groups," the ministry said.

It added that the contents of its national report for the review are still being prepared and not yet finalised.

The UPR reviews the human rights situation in each of the 193 UN member states every 41/2 years.

Pink Dot spokesman Paerin Choa said this is the first time the LGBT group has been consulted, and that it "is a very significant development as it has given the LGBT community in Singapore an opportunity to be heard in the international community".

Ms Braema Mathi, president of human rights group Maruah, said the move was a sign that the Government is recognising LGBT communities.

But National University of Singapore political scientist Bilveer Singh was less hopeful.

"I don't think it is a game-changer when the groups are consulted. (It's) just that the Government agrees such groups exist and it is good to hear their views," he said.

"But what eventually happens remains to be seen. I doubt there will be many policy changes though."

LGBT groups are also planning to submit their own reports for the UPR to the UN.

Lesbian group Sayoni is preparing one with the Association of Women for Action and Research, migrant rights group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, and civil society groups Function 8 and Think Centre.

Pink Dot is preparing one with LGBT counselling group Oogachaga.

The groups said they are planning to bring up issues such as the Penal Code's Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men - a rule recently upheld by the Supreme Court - workplace discrimination against the LGBT community and censorship of the media.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'LGBT groups consulted for report'. Subscribe