Shanmugam explains Govt's position on Pink Dot; warns against harassment of both pro- and anti-LGBT activists

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam speaks to Oogachaga, a non-profit, professional counselling support and personal development organisation working with LGBT+ individuals.
Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam speaks to Oogachaga, a non-profit, professional counselling support and personal development organisation working with LGBT+ individuals.PHOTO: OOGACHAGA
Participants holding up placards with their messages of love and support during the 8th edition of Pink Dot, annual rally for freedom to love, at Hong Lim Park on June 4, 2016.
Participants holding up placards with their messages of love and support during the 8th edition of Pink Dot, annual rally for freedom to love, at Hong Lim Park on June 4, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that the Government will not hesitate to take action on harassment against any group that crosses into criminal territory.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that the Government will not hesitate to take action on harassment against any group that crosses into criminal territory.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Government is "strongly opposed" to the harassment of any group, and will not hesitate to take action if harassment crosses into criminal territory, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in a Facebook post on Tuesday (June 27) evening.

He said this during a conversation with Oogachaga volunteer counsellor Bryan Choong, who told him that sponsors of the Pink Dot rally this weekend had been harassed.

Oogachaga is a counselling group for people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The conversation took place at its office in Chinatown, during which Mr Choong also spoke about its work with those affected by drug use in the community.

"People will have strong views on LGBT issues," Mr Shanmugam wrote. "The way to deal with the issue is to discuss, persuade. Harassment, either of LGBT activists or anti-LGBT activists, is not acceptable." He added that the Protection from Harassment Act offers a civil remedy to those who have been harassed.

Mr Shanmugam also wrote that he had met separately with other people, some of whom are opposed to LGBT lifestyles and also brought up the issue of harassment.

Some told him that in foreign financial institutions, young people are subject to "a great deal of pressure" to support the LGBT cause, despite their personal beliefs, he wrote, adding that he had asked for more details.

During the conversation with Mr Choong, Mr Shanmugam also explained the need for stricter security rules for Speakers' Corner, such as conducting bag checks.

"The rules apply to everyone and every group. In view of the current security climate, increased security measures are absolutely required," he wrote, referring to recent terror attacks overseas. "Any large public gathering, with high profile, will be an attractive target."

Given that Pink Dot will draw a large crowd, it will be "irresponsible not to take security measures seriously", he added, noting that similar requirements will be imposed at other events, including those not held at Speakers' Corner.

Pink Dot will be held this weekend at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. Its call for sponsorship from local companies has been answered by more than 100 firms across varied industries such as food and beverage, healthcare, and engineering.

Correction note: This story has been edited to provide the correct designation of Oogachaga volunteer counsellor Bryan Choong. We are sorry for the error.