Singapore’s new policy toward gays arouses protests

Predictably, the Singapore government’s sudden about-face on its traditional policy of not hiring gays is creating a backlish, according to The Straits Times:

The Government’s change of policy in hiring gays is causing a stir in the Christian community. So far, it has prompted a meeting led by the mainstream National Council of Churches of Singapore and an online campaign against homosexuals by another group.

One local pastor put up a post on his church’s Web site titled Don’t Be Silent:

‘We cannot stand idly by. Homosexuality is a sin and it is far more rampant, militant and organised than most of us actually believe it to be. The battle lines are now drawn and it is time for the Church in Singapore to rise up and make a stand.’

(The article also cites another religious group that urges tolerance and acceptance.)

The outcry is really a silly thing. They are deriding the government’s decision to hire gays, but I have bad news for them: gays are already there, just as they are in the military and just about every profession you can think of. To say they are forbidden is an exercise in self-deception.

These proteseters should also see that this has little to do with toleration or compassion. Only one thing matters now to the SGP government, and that is holding onto the international businesses it has here and wooing new ones. The no-gays policy has been a turn-off to some of these companies, and the last thing the government wants to do is turn any company off.

Singapore is in a terribly perilous position as US companies that previously would have set up their Asian headquarters here or in Hong Kong choose instead to skip the “stepping stone” and set up shop right in Shanghai.

This could literally suffocate the HK and SGP economies over time. It is no time to chase away potential business because of outdated and prejudicial hiring practices. So the government has made the correct and moral decision, even if their motivation had little to do with correctness or morality.

[Courtesy of a tip from Vaara.]

The Discussion: 8 Comments

Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but Shanghai isn’t exactly a gay mecca…

July 23, 2003 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

You’re absolutely right about Shanghai (though it’s light years ahead of Beijing). The mentality of the government here right now is simple: anything that might increase the country’s appeal to foreign investment must be pursued. Anything that might threaten such investment must be avoided. I was at a board meeting of a local trade association last night, and it was discussed how, if you want to get government funding for a cause, you simply package it as a boost to foreign investment. This is good, but also worrying, as it underscores just how desperate the government is to bring money/jobs to Singapore.

July 24, 2003 @ 12:10 am | Comment

As you may know, every year a major U.S. think tank publishes an “Index of Economic Freedom.” Last year, as usual, the top two rankings went to Hong Kong and Singapore.

The name of the think tank? None other than the Heritage Foundation. Which certainly puts Singapore’s attempts to woo foreign investment through tolerance in an interesting light.

July 24, 2003 @ 11:53 am | Comment

I take whatever the Heritage Foundation says with a gigantic grain of sea salt.

July 24, 2003 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

Indeed. Though it’s somewhat ironic, if not chilling, that the two countries they admire most are both semi-authoritarian.

July 24, 2003 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

Never been to China.

Like to protest in Singapore – care to spend a few days in Jail anyone? ๐Ÿ˜›

Put it this way – you can’t change things overnight – the more vigourously you push you change, the more negative reaction you can expect to get.

Take things slowly. If you want a gay mecca – hop to SF.

Slowly learning English

July 24, 2003 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

I really hope this is no offense to you richard and hope this doesn’t sound preachy.

Spkeaing from a Christian perspective, I’m angry and upset at how other Christians discriminate against the homosexuals. Yes I acknowledge that homosexuality is sin, Yes God hates homosexuality. But this those not mean that God hates homosexuals. But this does not give them a right to judge or think they’re more righteous just because they don’t engage in homosexuality.

I have heard testimonies of homosexuals turning to God and I’ve witnessed how one of my friend did that too from the love and acceptance he received from others.

July 25, 2003 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

Melissa, obviously we see things quite differently, but that is okay. In my mind, a God of compassion and forgiveness would not hate homosexuals who hurt no one and are decent people. As for turning to God, I know several gays who are extremely religious and highly involved in their churches. I cannot believe that God hates them, especially a God whose religion is founded on the concepts of love, forgiveness and compassion. The Bible says that many things are sins (even eating meat with a glass of milk) but most people have decided that some of those things are not realistic or practical, so they relax the rules — they don’t keep their heads covered all the time and they don’t eat only food blessed by a rabbi, etc. I don’t ask you to change your viewpoint, but try to look at it from a different perspective, not one where it is a matter of black and white. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

July 26, 2003 @ 3:14 am | Comment

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