The discussion over banning a same-sex kiss in the Singapore staging of Les Miserables was one of many surrounding LGBT inclusivity, and Parliament member Baey Yam Keng said such discussions need to continue so that the Singapore government can make a call on what the silent majority thinks about matters such as LGBT inclusivity and safety.
Baey’s remarks were made Friday at the Heroes Seminar, Popspoken learnt. The seminar is a week-long conference organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic for its students.
He was asked by a student on the government’s decision to ban the same-sex kiss and whether the move was considered to be inclusive, to which Baey replied that today’s youth may be more open to LGBT rights but he believes one’s stance on homosexuality changes with age and having children.
He sees the older generation as more traditional and might face a difficult task of explaining a sudden same-sex kiss in a play to their children.
“People are in the silent majority mostly. Views are not heard and the government can’t make a call because only extreme views are heard,” he said.
“We hope there will be more conversations about it though so we can accept that there are differences in views and realise that authorities need to make a call. It’s not an easy balance to strike.”
He reiterated that the voice of the “silent majority” is important for the government to make a judgment call.
“The government will move at a pace that society can accept,” he said.
In a later webcast with Heroes Seminar, Baey said that he appreciated the question and praised youths for submitting difficult questions.
“This tells us that young people have a view of these things. Perhaps they may not agree with certain positions taken by the authority or society at large, but… it means that our young people are thinking people,” he said.
“I hope (the youths) will take this (forum) to be more informed and also make better informed decisions. In a diverse world like Singapore, we can learn to live with differences but at the same time, celebrate diversity and find common ground for us to come together.”
The seminar is part of the polytechnic’s Character and Citizenship Education programme which allows students to engage in discussion with different thought-leaders in various sectors.
The news comes amid Singapore rejecting a United Nations bill by the Human Rights Council to continue having an independent expert to oversee safety of LGBTs against violence and discrimination.
Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, permanent representative of Singapore to the United Nations, said that the rejection of the bill was because it threatened to undermine the authority of the wider General Assembly, and does not represent the government’s views towards the LGBT community here which is “an integral part of our society”.
“Singapore strongly opposes violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons. In Singapore, we have laws to protect our citizens from such acts and we enforce these laws strictly and impartially,” he said.
“The issue of the rights of LGBTI persons is one upon which international opinion is clearly divided. We believe this is an issue best left to each society to deal with in its own way.”
Featured photo: Heroes Seminar/Facebook