SINGAPORE – Foreign businesses are reminded to be careful about advocacy on issues in Singapore that could be socially divisive, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said.
Such issues include those surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, said the ministry in a statement on Thursday (Aug 4).
It was responding to media queries arising from United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for the business community in Singapore to support the LGBT community here as more American businesses are establishing offices in Singapore.
The ministry said that while foreign businesses are free to promote diversity in their companies, they should be careful about advocating such issues.
“These are matters for Singaporeans to discuss and come to a consensus on how to move forward,” it said.
Mrs Pelosi was in Singapore on Monday, and led a group of six US congressmen on a visit to the Indo-Pacific region this week.
She and her congressional delegation met President Halimah Yacob, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, at the Istana. They also had meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Mrs Pelosi also attended a reception organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.
In a statement on the visit, she said: “We engaged with leaders of the business community and underscored the importance of public-private sector collaboration to foster strong economic growth across the region.
“We asked for their support for the LGBTQ community in Singapore, as more American businesses are establishing and adding offices in Singapore,” she added.
The statement comes as the Government has been consulting various groups of Singaporeans on Section 377A of the Penal Code in recent months, as it decides on the next steps.
The law – which criminalises gay sex – is not actively enforced, a position that the authorities have reiterated since it was discussed at length in Parliament in 2007.
Last Saturday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the Government is considering how best to balance the issue. He said that while many Singaporeans agree that sex between men should not be a crime, most also do not want the current position of marriage being between a man and a woman to be changed.
The minister also called for moderation from both sides – those for as well as against the repeal of Section 377A – and for them “to avoid extreme positions and demands”.