A coalition of six lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) groups has submitted a joint stakeholder report to the United Nations (UN) for Singapore’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle, the 38th session of the UPR Working Group.
The stakeholder submission highlights pertinent human rights issues and the lack of protections for LGBTQ persons in Singapore. LGBTQ individuals in Singapore continue to experience violence and discrimination in public and private spheres, from State and non-State actors.
Deliberate discrimination in policies, institutional gaps, and a lack of anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), compound and contribute to the human rights violations against them.
Key issues highlighted in the stakeholder report include:
- LGBTQ youths often face peer bullying and harassment in schools, but received inadequate protection from educational institutions
- LGBTQ persons often experience violence from the people closest to them, family members and intimate partners, who attempt to “punish” or “correct” their perceived nonconformity towards social norms and gender stereotypes
- Transgender persons face significant barriers to legal gender marker change, which increases discrimination and unequal access to healthcare, housing, employment, and education
- State and non-State service providers lack LGBTQ-affirming sensitivity training to adequately support LGBTQ persons
During the previous review in 2016, Singapore received numerous recommendations regarding laws and policies that discriminate against LGBTQ persons.
This includes i) the repeal of Section 377A; ii) the removal of discriminatory media guidelines, in order to provide a more balanced representation of LGBTQ persons; and iii) the enactment of legislation prohibiting discrimination, based on SOGIESC, in employment.
In spite of this, the State has not supported any of these UPR recommendations for the improvement of LGBTQ human rights
“The UPR is a crucial process to ensure that the human rights of all, including LGBTQ persons, are protected and promoted. It provides an opportunity for the State and civil society to declare and assess the current human rights situations in their countries,” said Jean Chong, co-founder of Sayoni.
“Although the government has said that violence against all persons will not be tolerated in Singapore, this will remain as lip service as long as the state retains laws that promote discrimination,” said Zuby Eusofe, founder of The Healing Circle.
“We hope that our report will raise awareness of the specific challenges we face, and the government will sincerely collaborate with non-State organisations to address the unequal treatment of LGBTQ persons,” she added.
The full stakeholder report will be publicly available when the upcoming UPR of Singapore takes place, which is scheduled for May 2021, at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland.