Singapore’s LGBT community decries national survey about ‘gay lifestyles’


SINGAPORE — Singapore’s LGBT community has decried a recent government-commissioned survey that suggests a plurality of Singaporeans are not accepting of “gay lifestyles,” and that a clear majority rejects same-sex marriage.

The survey, conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), indicated that 47 percent rejected the statement idea that society “accepts gay lifestyles,” while 26 percent said they were accepting, and 27 percent said they had no opinion for or against.

On the subject of marriage equality, 55 percent of respondents said they were not supportive of allowing same-sex unions, 21 percent were in favor, and 24 percent were neutral.

The two questions were asked as part of the “Our Singapore Conversation Survey,” a government-led project to “get a snapshot of Singaporeans’ priorities, values and preferences”.

But the survey results were quickly dismissed by Singapore’s LGBT community, and activists claimed the survey and its language is misleading and biased, and mocked it on Twitter with the hashtag #gaylifestyle.

Pink Dot Singapore, an LGBT advocacy group, said the use of the term “gay lifestyle” was prejudiced and wrong.

“A person’s sexual identity cannot be described as merely a lifestyle because it reduces him or her down to one shallow facet of their identity. The term also does not allow for the diversity that exists between lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals nor the similarities between LGBT and straight communities,” Pink Dot said in a statement to the portal Fridae.

“There is no such thing as a ‘gay lifestyle’ because there is no one sameness that permeates through all LGBT people in Singapore or across the world,” said Pink Dot. “When used in research, it creates a bias because it predetermines for unfamiliar interviewees that sexuality is a choice rather than an innate characteristic.”

Nei, a columnist for Sayoni, a queer women’s advocacy group, said: “’Gay lifestyle’ implies choice and ease of change. No matter how important a role nature or nurture play in being gay, it’s not something we just stop being. Referring to it as a lifestyle implicitly rejects queer people, and if the survey said this, I’d like to know where the researchers were coming from in asking the question.”

Leong Chan Hoong, Senior Research Fellow for the IPS, conceded that on hindsight, the survey could have used a more “nuanced and calibrated” term.

The survey of 4,000 Singaporeans was conducted by the from December 2012 to January 2013.

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